Popular competitor Valtteri Bottas secured his first Formula One pole position on Saturday and one thinks that the Finn is a decent bet to break his race duck by taking out Sunday’s Bahrain Grand Prix.
Ferrari had been faster than Mercedes in Friday’s second practice session, which took place at the same time of day as Saturday’s qualifying laps, but the Silver Arrows put the Prancing Horse in their place to lock out the front row of the Bahrain Grand Prix grid. Mercedes made a radio comment during Friday’s second practice session that it had half a second up its sleeve and so it proved with Bottas and Lewis Hamilton being roughly that much faster than Sebastian Vettel at the end of Saturday’s qualifying battle.
Bottas has competed in every Bahrain Grand Prix since 2013 and, if qualifying results are any gain – and one thinks that they are – the Finn goes very well around the Bahrain International Circuit. After edging Hamilton in this year’s Bahrain Grand Prix qualifying heat, now Bottas is 5-0 versus his various teammates on Saturdays in the Arabian desert. In Bahrain Grand Prix qualifying competitions down the years, Bottas has outperformed Pastor Maldonado (2013), Felipe Massa (2014, 2015 and 2016) and Hamilton (2017). Linking up with Mercedes has put Bottas in a car capable of winning grands prix and one rates the Finn as a better all-round driver than the champion whom he replaced, Nico Rosberg.
One is willing to take a punt on Bottas breaking through for his maiden grand prix victory at odds of +250 with several bookmakers, including Bwin and Ladbrokes, not only because he was fast throughout Saturday’s Bahrain Grand Prix qualifying session but also because the first corner of Sunday’s race could be chaotic behind him if he makes a good start. Hamilton has not been the fastest starter in recent seasons and surely Vettel’s strategy will include having a dip at his rival at the end of the Bahrain International Circuit straight.
The difference between Mercedes and Ferrari on Saturday’s Bahrain Grand Prix qualifying laps was stark. The Mercedes vehicles of Bottas and Hamilton were about eight kilometres per hour quicker than the Ferrari machines of Vettel and Kimi Raikkonen through the Bahrain International Circuit straight’s speed trap and, even allowing for the Silver Arrows being the masters of qualifying, that is a huge differential and one that it is hard to believe that the Prancing Horse will be able to make up on Sunday.
With regards to Bahrain Grand Prix exotics, the bet that holds the most appeal is Jolyon Palmer to finish in the points at odds of +138 with BetVictor. Palmer will start 10th on the grid and he was sufficiently honest to tell reporters that he made a manual error during qualifying, a mistake that explains why he was quite a long way behind his Renault colleague, Nico Hulkenberg. It does appear that the Renault cars are among the 10 quickest vehicles in Bahrain and, with the real possibility of Hamilton and Vettel coming to blows at the first corner, Palmer should not be trading at odds against to score Formula One points for the second time in his career. Palmer’s father, Jonathan, scored 14 points from his 83 Formula One starts in the 1980s.
Valtteri Bottas to win the Bahrain Grand Prix
Sunday 16th April, 16:00 BST
Jolyon Palmer – Points finish
Sunday 16th April, 16:00 BST