How the Bookies See it
|Chinese Grand Prix Winner||
- Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel has been the driver of the season so far, with back-to-back victories in the opening two races of the season. The four-time world champion took advantage of a safety car period at the Australian Grand Prix to make a pit stop and seize control of the race from Lewis Hamilton, before producing a sublime performance to win in Bahrain. The German has previously tasted success at the Chinese Grand Prix, taking the chequered flag back in 2009.
- Lewis Hamilton may be 17 points behind Vettel in the early standings but he has not done much wrong. He could do little about Vettel’s pit manoeuvre in Melbourne due to the safety car limitations, and he surged to a third-place finish last week after starting ninth on the grid. He has also won four times in China, including three out of the last four years.
- Hamilton’s Mercedes teammate Valtteri Bottas is 11 points further back on 22. Having finished a distant eighth at the Australian GP, he bounced back to put Vettel under considerable pressure in Bahrain. However, after closing in brilliantly in the final few laps, he was ultimately unable to find a way past the classy Vettel.
- Veteran Fernando Alonso occupies fourth spot in his McLaren-Renault after a couple of solid displays - finishing fifth and then seventh. Kimi Raikkonen’s campaign has been overshadowed by the worrying incident last week which saw him run over a mechanic’s leg during a pit stop. He had to quit the race, but remains fifth in the driver standings and his podium finish in Australia ensures that Ferrari are still just ahead of Mercedes in the constructors’ championship.
The Shanghai International Circuit provides a challenge of skill and speed with its combination of straights and corners, but history suggests there will be plenty of scope for overtaking so a thrilling race should be on the cards. Hamilton has the best record of any driver at the Chinese Grand Prix in recent years, and if he can start on pole position for a sixth straight season then he could well be receiving the winner’s spoils yet again on Sunday night.
It is far too early to say the pressure is piling up on Mercedes following two hard-fought wins for Vettel’s Ferrari, but Hamilton and the Mercedes team will be determined to reassert their superiority, while the fallout from Raikkonen’s grisly pit stop in Bahrain could well disrupt Ferrari’s focus. Punters may not be too tempted by Hamilton’s odds ahead of the race, though, with most bookmakers pricing him at around Evens to finish first, so it may be worth looking elsewhere.
Fellow Mercedes team member Bottas was criticised in some quarters for lacking the killer instinct to go past Vettel on the final lap in Bahrain, but he had stormed into contention in stunning style and could be a decent 9/1 shot in William Hill’s outright winner market. Another bet to consider might be Max Verstappen at 6/4 to finish in the top three. The 20-year-old has yet to really get going this season but his scintillating drive in Shanghai 12 months ago, when he moved up from 16th on the grid to come third, will fill him with confidence. He will feel he has a point to prove after being labelled ‘immature’ by Hamilton following a collision in Bahrain, and he has vowed not to change his aggressive style.
Sports.net’s Top Tip
|Top 3 Finish||
*Please note, odds may fluctuate.