After a nail-biting end to the 2021-22 Formula 1 season, the world’s foremost racing series is finally back for a long race season. Of course, all eyes will be on 2021 world drivers champion Max Verstappen and runner-up Lewis Hamilton. Max will aim to retain his title while Lewis will be looking to bounce back after a disappointing end to his 2021-22 season.
Another key aspect to keep eyes on is the set of brand new regulations for the new-generation 2022 cars that promise to even up the field and bring more focus to on-track battles.
According to F1 odds at Sportsbook, Lewis Hamilton (+200) and Max Verstappen (+200) are joint favorites to take victory at the 2022 Bahrain Grand Prix, followed by Charles Leclerc (+500), and Carlos Sainz and George Russell (+800).
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Odds To Win The Bahrain Grand Prix
Odds as of March 15 at Sportsbook
Verstappen’s Title Defense Will Start Right Away
The Verstappen-Hamilton rivalry reached fever pitch last season. The championship battle came down to the wire as both drivers headed to the final race at Abu Dhabi with the same number of points in the championship standings. In other words, every point was precious last season, and there’s no reason to think it will be any different in the 2022 season.
This underscores the need for Max Verstappen to have a title defense mindset from the very first race. While there will certainly be a learning curve as drivers get acclimated to the new-gen cars, the expectation will be for both Max and Lewis to maximize the number of points they can score.
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Although seven-time world champion Lewis Hamilton stated: “We are not the quickest at the moment. I think Ferrari look to be the quickest and perhaps Red Bull and then maybe us,” the situation was not dissimilar last season. Red Bull seemed to have a clear pace advantage over the rest of the pack. However, Hamilton won the Sportsbook race at Bahrain last year, with then teammate Valtteri Bottas claiming P3. So, it would make sense to take Lewis’ comments with a heavy grain of salt.
That isn’t to say that Mercedes are runaway favorites. As we previously stated, the new regulations of the Formula 1 cars have been drafted with the aim of leveling the playing field and encouraging more wheel-to-wheel racing. Ross Brawn, the managing director of Formula 1, stated: “The new regulations will bring it a lot closer and I think we’ll see some of what were the midfield teams challenging (for wins). We’ll have a bigger group of competitive teams.”
Bold Predictions For The Bahrain Grand Prix
While the performance of Ferrari grew stronger toward the end of last season, it was an open secret that the Italian team dedicated a majority of its time and resources toward building a serious challenger for the 2022-23 season. Team principal Mattia Binotto’s absence from a number of races was a telling sign of the team’s fervent dedication toward this goal.
Hence, both Ferrari drivers, Charles Leclerc (+500) and Carlos Sainz Jr. (+800), will be looking to make the most of the Ferrari’s R&D in the season opener.
Meanwhile, British driver George Russell (+800) will make his debut for the Mercedes F1 team this weekend. Considering his commendable performance in the lowly Williams last season and his familiarity with the Mercedes engine, one can look for a strong qualifying performance from George.
Max Verstappen’s teammate, Sergio Perez (+2000), joined Red Bull Racing in the middle of the summer last season, giving him little time to get used to his new car. That won’t be the case this season as the Mexican driver will aim to make the most of his opportunity in a title-winning Formula 1 car from the very first race.
History Of The Bahrain Grand Prix
The Bahrain Grand Prix was first held in 2004, when Formula 1 legend Michael Schumacher won the race. The Grand Prix has been held every year since then and Lewis Hamilton has the most wins with five.
The 5.4-kilometer track is noted for its distinctive run-off areas, which have contributed to making it among the safest tracks on the calendar. This implies a relatively low probability of race restarts and extended safety car periods, although Romain Grosjean’s fiery crash did take place at this very track.
The high-speed corners in this track are conducive to overtaking opportunities for cars with a good aerodynamic package, such as Red Bull. Moreover, the heavy braking zones are immediately followed up by long straights. Such sequences typically punish even the smallest of mistakes at the corner.
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Further, the new-gen Formula 1 cars are much better suited to close racing because of the absence of the “dirty air” that the previous generation of cars left in their wake, making it difficult to follow close behind. A drawback, however, seems to be the fact that the cars are set to be almost 40 kilograms heavier due to new-spec tires and an increase in the chassis weight.
As a result, the cars are harder to maneuver in low-speed corners. Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc commented: “They are heavy, much heavier. You can feel it mostly in low-speed corners. It makes us change quite a bit the driving style for those low-speed corners,” suggesting a learning curve when it comes to the track’s more challenging turns, such as the tight and off-camber Turn 10.
The race will run for 57 laps and will take place after sunset, given the high temperatures at Bahrain in the daytime. There is no prediction of rainfall.
Betting Strategy For The Bahrain Grand Prix
Preseason practice sessions suggest that Red Bull have the strongest car at the moment. However, Mercedes can never be counted out. The last eight years have proven that there isn’t much reason to bet against Mercedes. They have been consistently top draw, and all logic points to the notion that it will not be any different this time around.
Furthermore, Ferrari cannot be taken lightly. They surely are dark horses given the resources they have poured into developing this year’s cars while Red Bull and Mercedes had to focus on the 2021-22 championship battle.
All things considered, the fact remains that momentum lies with Red Bull and Max Verstappen after a tide-shifting championship. So, Verstappen would be our bet for the 2022 Bahrain Grand Prix.
There could be another opportunity. With the F1 Bahrain Grand Prix odds equal for both Hamilton and Verstappen, you could stake your investment equally between the two drivers. It is a new season but there could still be thorough dominance from the two primary title contenders. It is a low-risk option but one that could prove prudent considering there are many variables so early in a new season.