The Formula 1 season got off to a disappointing start for Lewis Hamilton in Australia and it might be tough for Mercedes to get back on track in Bahrain, a circuit Ferrari have thrived at in recent years.
A Scuderia driver has tasted the winner’s rose water at the Sakhir track on five occasions, with Sebastian Vettel taking the chequered flag last year.
Although they now race at night in Bahrain, temperatures will still be high, making life tough on the tyres. Those are the types of conditions Ferrari have tended to thrive in over recent years while the power-friendly nature of the track also boosts Italian chances.
Hamilton believes Vettel and team-mate Kimi Raikkonen will be “rapid” in Bahrain, making it tough to back the Brit at 20/27 despite Mercedes winning three of the four races staged at the circuit in the V6 era.
Vettel is a much more appealing at 3/1 to make it back-to-back victories to open the season while Raikkonen is 15/1, a big price given the Finn has finished on the podium in eight of his 12 appearances in Bahrain.
One area Ferrari are unlikely to have the edge is in qualifying given Mercedes have taken pole in 71 of the last 80 races. Hamilton and his ‘party mode’ did the business in Australia and he is 10/19 to be sat on the front row of the grid on Sunday.
It looks likely to be a straight shoot-out between Ferrari and Mercedes for top honours once again this weekend, with questions remaining over Red Bull’s lack of power.
Those carrying a Renault engine could find themselves struggling so it is worth focusing on those cars using Mercedes and Ferrari power units when looking at top-six and top-10 finishes.
Force India missed out on a points finish for the first time since the 2017 Monaco Grand Prix last week but are fancied to bounce back in Bahrain.
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