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Mercedes is long odds on to win the Formula One constructors championship yet again and that leads one to focus on the Silver Arrows drivers in the Bahrain Grand Prix on Sunday.
There have been 11 previous editions of the Bahrain Grand Prix and the winners of 10 of them – Michael Schumacher for Ferrari (2004), Fernando Alonso for Renault (2005 and 2006), Felipe Massa for Ferrari (2007 and 2008), Jenson Button for Brawn (2009), Sebastian Vettel for Red Bull (2012 and 2013) and Lewis Hamilton for Mercedes (2014 and 2015) – drove a car representing that year’s leading constructor. Fernando Alonso for Ferrari (2010) was the exception to the rule, however, one should note that season’s Bahrain Grand Prix took place on a different circuit to all of the others.
And Mercedes dominated the first round of this year’s title race, the Australian Grand Prix. Hamilton was comfortably the fastest driver in each of the three Australian Grand Prix qualifying sessions only to botch the beginning of the race and find himself in sixth position at the end of the first lap. Hamilton fought his way through the field to finish the Australian Grand Prix in second place but he could not overtake his Mercedes teammate, Nico Rosberg.
There is a logical reason as to why the Bahrain Grand Prix has been the domain of the top constructor of that season – the Bahrain International Circuit is a track that demands power due to its layout featuring several long straights. Cars that are not quick in a straight line have no chance of winning a Bahrain Grand Prix and, on the evidence of both this year’s Australian Grand Prix and last season overall, Hamilton and Rosberg have Formula One’s quickest vehicles.
Rosberg has won each of the most recent four Formula One races spanning this term and last term so the German will have his backers as the Bahrain Grand Prix second favourite. But one prefers Hamilton, who is available at odds of +100 with Paddy Power and SkyBet to take the chequered flag first and end his relatively lengthy barren run.
Hamilton would have won the Australian Grand Prix had he not made a hash of getting off the grid and his Bahrain Grand Prix record is vastly superior to that of Rosberg. Hamilton has beaten Rosberg in each of the three Bahrain Grand Prix editions in which they have been Mercedes colleagues and the Briton has outperformed the German in six of the eight renewals in which they have competed versus each other.
Formula One is persevering with the qualifying system that it introduced for the Australian Grand Prix but one is willing to gamble that it does not impact negatively on Hamilton, who in Melbourne claimed the 50th pole position of his career. If Hamilton starts the Bahrain Grand Prix from pole position, he will be short odds to take out the race.
With regards to Bahrain Grand Prix exotic markets, the one of most interest pertains to the potential for an appearance by the safety car. The safety car has only come out to play twice in the 11-race history of the Bahrain Grand Prix, with the Bahrain International Circuit’s enormous run-off areas limiting the likelihood of a race being interrupted. Many bookmakers, including Bet365, Coral and Totesport, are offering odds of -200 about no safety car on Sunday.
Lewis Hamilton to win the Bahrain Grand Prix
Sunday 3rd April, 16:00 GMT
No Safety Car in the Bahrain Grand Prix
Sunday 3rd April, 16:00 GMT
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