Last Time Out:
We witnessed the emergence of Charles Leclerc.
On all the evidence he could and should be one of the greats.
That being said, Merecedes have now won both grand prix this season. Lewis Hamilton did however, very much inherit the Bahrain GP victory. Ferrari suffered a rare ‘short-circuiting’ of their engine when they had the race in hand.
Ferrari and particularly Leclerc dominated Mercedes throughout the entire weekend. It seems Ferrari have rediscovered their pre-season pace, it also seems the Sakhir circuit strongly suits their car.
Elsewhere Red Bull have discovered their car may be limited by shoddy aerodynamics rather than a sub-par engine. This would really be a first for a team who have had the sport’s foremost car designer in Adrian Newey since their inception in the mid-2000’s.
McLaren learned their car can mix it with the best in midfield, Carlos Sainz was even rubbing wheels with Max Verstappen until dropping back and ultimately out from damage suffered in that incident. Their rookie driver Lando Norris secured a remarkable sixth place finish, like Leclerc, he will go on to great things in the sport.
A courteous nod as well to Alexander Albon. The Toro Rosso racer scored his first pair of points in F1 and also managed to outpace Alpha-Romeo’s Antonio Giovinazzi – this was the second race in a row we’ve managed to pull off match bet success.
Off to China next, and the Shanghai International Circuit has the luck and distinction of being the 1000th Formula One Grand Prix.
The track is what F1 technicians like to call ‘power limited’.
As in, if you lack power, you’ll be extremely limited!
In the past, this was an excellent betting indicator. The 1.1km long back-straight would separate the leading engine from the chasing pack.
In other words, Mercedes-powered cars enjoyed an enormous advantage over Ferrari, Renault, and Honda powered teams.
Consequently, Mercedes won four Chinese Grand Prix in a row 2013-2017.
There has been a convergence since, with Red Bull winning with Renault last year and Ferrari and Honda making considerable strides in that department.
The track itself is excellent. A complete test of an F1 car. Long sweeping corners, heavy breaking zones, and plenty of overtaking opportunities.
Last year’s race was a thriller. A race half as good this year and we’re in for a treat.
While we would be doing well to get the excitement of last year’s grand prix, the track lends itself well to action and overtakes.
Ferrari were one of the slowest teams through the speed traps in the opening race in Australia. A cooling issue in the first grand prix of the season that forced them to run their engines conservativly. In Bahrain they were topping those speed traps.
If we take the action from Bahrain as being the representative pace of the red cars then they should hold the edge over Mercedes this weekend.
If we then take the two weekends thus far as being representative of where the drivers are then Charles Leclerc should have Sebastian Vettel’s number for the race.
Vettel can still offer value however.
Last season the driver who delivered their maximum potential performance in qualifying most often (putting their three best sector times together in one lap) was one Seb Vettel.
The driver who least often put together their best possible lap last season? Charles Leclerc.
In his defence, it was his rookie year and he’ll likely improve in this area throughout 2019.
However it offers up some early season value for backing Vettel for pole position.
As ever there’s a bet to be had away from the front of the race. I’m looking at McLaren.
Lando Norris has been this year’s best rookie in my opinion. He has qualified in the top 10 in both races, and scored a remarkable sixth place finish last time out in Bahrain.
Norris has, so far, had the measure of his classy teammate Carlos Sainz. If anything, the young Brit should improve relative to a driver with five years F1 experience.
He’s barely odds-on in a match bet against Sainz, which to me, looks a good bet.
— Lando Norris (@LandoNorris) April 4, 2019
It’s been a fascinating start to the F1 season, Ferrari have left points all over the floor but the feeling persists that they have a superior car and potentially the perfect driver.
If they can mirror their performance from Bahrain, then China should be a good weekend for Vettel, Leclerc, and co.
He was irresistable last time out, only a malfunctioning engine stopped him from crushing the field, I’m going with Charles Leclerc for the race win.
Chinese Grand Prix Race Winner – Charles Leclerc at 6/4.
Sebastian Vettel was last year’s pole sitter, he was the best qualifier on the grid for the duration of 2018, and I’m fairly sure he can still beat Leclerc over one lap.
Chinese Grand Prix Pole Winner – Sebastian Vettel at 13/8.
And a third and final bet gets us into the midfield dog fight nicely, it’s Lando Norris vs Carlos Sainz at McLaren. This blog is 2/2 on F1 match bets so far this year so here’s hoping and expecting 3/3.
Lando Norris vs Carlos Sainz Match Bet – Lando Norris at 10/11