Mercedes equalised Ferrari’s victory in Australia with a strong win for Lewis Hamilton in China last Sunday, and they will hope to continue that momentum into this weekend’s Bahrain Grand Prix (Race: Sunday, 16:00 BST, live on Channel 4 and Sky Sports F1).
Hamilton qualified on pole position and led from start to finish in China as those behind him struggled to keep pace after a bitty, semi-wet opening to the race. Sebastian Vettel recovered from a tentative start to take second for Ferrari, while Red Bull’s Max Verstappen filled out the podium after making decisive progress through the field from his lowly grid position.
It was a result that evened up the championship battle after two races and indicated that Mercedes are still going to be highly competitive this season. They looked to have an advantage over Ferrari in China and the contest between the teams will be decided by which of the two is able to derive more performance from updates as the season progresses.
Red Bull won the race for the final podium position due to some good strategy calls and strong driving from both Verstappen and his teammate Daniel Ricciardo, who came home fourth. The second Ferrari and Mercedes drivers completed the top six on a weekend when both Kimi Raikkonen and Valtteri Bottas had their struggles.
The stage is set for an intriguing race in Bahrain. Mercedes have emerged victorious in each of the last three races at the circuit but the feeling within the paddock is that Ferrari may have a slight edge in warmer conditions such as those that will be seen this weekend.
Hamilton and Vettel each have two victories at the Bahrain International Circuit to their name and can be expected to fight it out for victory again. It will be tight but we believe Vettel is capable of securing his and Ferrari’s second win of the season.
Carlos Sainz was the only driver to start on slicks in China and recovered from an early off to finish in a strong seventh place for Toro Rosso. He was followed home by Kevin Magnussen, who secured Haas their first points of the season with a quietly impressive drive.
Haas have had their ups and down over the first couple of races of the campaign but have generally shown solid pace. Romain Grosjean qualified sixth in Australia only to retire early on due to a water leak on a weekend in which Magnussen never got up to speed. As Magnussen scored in China, Grosjean recovered from a bad qualifying session to finish just outside the points.
It was Grosjean who secured Haas their best finish of their debut season in the sport by coming home fifth at last year’s Bahrain Grand Prix. He also twice made the podium in Bahrain during his time with the Lotus team and is looking forward to the opportunity to impress once again at a circuit he really enjoys. He can be expected to finish in the points this weekend.
Force India filled out the final two points-paying positions in China, with Sergio Perez leading home his teammate Esteban Ocon to ninth and 10th. It was the team’s second double points finish of season and represented a 12th consecutive points finish for the ever-reliable Perez.
The Mexican driver secured Force India’s second-ever podium by coming home third in Bahrain in 2014 and has generally run well at the circuit aside from a disappointing performance last year. Ocon has never raced in Bahrain in Formula One but took pole position and then finished on the podium in both the feature and sprint races when he raced at the circuit as part of his successful GP3 campaign in 2015.
Force India have decent pace and a reliable package and can be fancied to continue their run of double points finishes this weekend.
Our Preview’s F1 Bahrain Grand Prix Betting Tips Verdict
This Bahrain Grand Prix preview has picked out three betting tips: