Bahrain Grand Prix Preview and Betting Tips

Mercedes promised an “immediate response” after Australia and they did exactly that in China with Lewis Hamilton claiming a fifth career win at a soggy Shanghai.

We are quickly onto the third round in Bahrain this weekend and Betsafe have teamed up with Planet F1 and Johnny Herbert once again to bring you an in-depth preview.


Take advantage of Betsafe massive Bahrain GP market offerings for the entire race weekend from practice to race day!

Hamilton strikes back

From farcical to fantastic, the Chinese Grand Prix finally delivered a treat after rain and smog threatened to ruin the whole weekend.

After Ferrari looked set to pick up where they left off in Australia with eye-catching performances in a frantic FP3, it was Mercedes who roared into life during qualifying.

Hamilton nailed down pole position and got off to a wonderful start when the red lights went out in testing conditions, with teams struggling to decide what the best tyre option was on a track which was drying out by the second.

Then, chaos ensued. Rookie Lance Stroll suffered his second retirement in as many races for Williams after being shunted by Sergio Perez in the Force India – forcing a Virtual Safety Car to be deployed – while Max Verstappen, who started 16th, came to life in conditions he thrives in and rose 11 places on the first lap alone.

Sebastian Vettel, down in P2, would then end up hampering his own race by pitting with Virtual Safety Car still under effect, while Hamilton opted to stay out on track.

The decision by the Brit proved to be a wise one, as Sauber stand-in Antonio Giovinazzi wrecked his car on the pit lane straight soon after the restart, allowing Hamilton to switch to softer tyres under a proper Safety Car.

Hamilton tried to make the soft tyres last for more than 40 laps, but ultimately he built up enough of a lead to the chasing pack to be able to pit again and still emerge out in front.

Meanwhile, there was a big ding-dong battle developing for the podium places with Vettel channeling his frustration into a gutsy overtake on Daniel Ricciardo who was running as high as P3.

Verstappen continued to progress all the way up to P2, but a heavy lock-up under pressure from Vettel gave the German an easy pass.

Vettel then went on to narrow the gap to Hamilton from 12 seconds to six, but the Mercedes man was able to cruise to a fifth career win in China.

Verstappen held off Ricciardo in a thrilling last-gasp fight for third, while Kimi Raikkonen and Valtteri Bottas cut frustrated figures down in P5 and P6 respectively.

There was a double points finish for Force India further down the field, but it was yet another race to forget for the doomed McLaren, who recorded a double DNF finish after Fernando Alonso somehow managed to drag the car into the top 10.

What to expect in Bahrain

After the first two races of the season, it is clear to see that Mercedes and Ferrari are very closely matched in both pace and reliability. Those two factors have put an even greater emphasis on each team’s strategy and that has played an instrumental part in Vettel’s win in the opening race and Hamilton’s success in China.

It is a pattern that looks set to continue In Bahrain, but we may be treated to a straight fight between the two drivers that have seven World Championships between them.

Bottas and Raikkonen, meanwhile, are already beginning to be overshadowed by their respective counterparts and will be eager to show that the title race this year is not just going to be a two-horse race.

The conditions in China allowed Red Bull to get a little closer to the leading duo, yet they are still quite a way off the pace and it would come as no surprise to see them regress slightly in a race with the hot and humid weather set to return.

Williams appeared to be the best of the rest after Australia, but they opened up the door to the rest of the midfield after a poor showing in China and another tight midfield battle can be expected this weekend.

It is a battle that McLaren will be playing no part of in Bahrain. With such a quick turnaround between grands prix, there will be no magic fix for the stricken Woking team and anything other than another double DNF would come as a big shock. It really is desperate times for one of the fallen giants of Formula 1.

Bahrain International Circuit

Bahrain became the first country in the Middle East to host a Formula 1 Grand Prix when Sakhir was added to the calendar in 2004, and it has been run every year since – apart from 2011 when political protests forced a cancellation.

The 5.412km circuit is the fifth shortest on this season’s fixture list and there are 57 laps and 15 corners to negotiate come race day.

A sharp right turn will greet the drivers after the dash down to the first corner. The track then almost doubles back on itself before you are able to fully get on the throttle down to Turn 4 where the cars weave their way around with a desert backdrop.

The first DRS zone comes after a tricky double left-hander at Turns 9 and 10 and will give the drivers some momentum as they snake left and right through Turns 11, 12, and 13.

Then it is full pedal to the floor down the long straight to Turn 14, with a clean run through here absolutely essential if you are to consistently churn out good lap times.

The now retired Nico Rosberg holds the in-race lap record with a 1:34.482s set in 2016, but, with the new aerodynamic regulations, the 2017 cars have already been putting several records under threat.

Previous winners and track suitability

With four long straights to really put your foot down on, the Bahrain International Circuit will suit Mercedes and Ferrari down to an absolute tee.

The latter have the most wins in Bahrain of any constructor with four victories to their prestigious name, but Mercedes have emerged victorious here in the last three years. Another pulsating battle awaits this weekend.

Alonso has produced miracles in the McLaren despite failing to collect a single World Championship point thus far, but it will take even more than divine intervention if he is to add to his three career wins here.

The last of which came in 2010, and since then it has been all about Vettel and Mercedes. The four-time World Champion won back-to-back races in 2012 and 2013 respectively, before Hamilton completed the double in the two years to follow.

Last year’s winner Rosberg claimed victory here in 2016 as part of a stunning start to his World Championship season, but now it will be another German threatening to steal the spotlight away from Hamilton.

Vettel is the 2/1 second favourite to claim what would be a second win of the season and he has to be the pick ahead of market leader Hamilton at evens.

It is going to be very close, but Ferrari do seem to have the slightly more stable car and, as we saw in Australia, comes to life in warmer temperatures.


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About Mark Scott

Mark Scott is a contributor for PlanetF1, the definitive site for Formula One news, features, galleries and live coverage.