Chinese Grand Prix Betting: Mercedes' dominance makes China easier to predict


On paper, the Chinese Grand Prix is one of the trickier races to predict.

Sunday's race is the tenth anniversary of F1's first appearance at the Shanghai International Circuit. The first ten races have been won by eight different drivers, including Fernando Alonso, Lewis Hamilton, Jenson Button, Kimi Raikkonen, Nico Rosberg and Sebastian Vettel from the current grid.

The two significant names in that list are Hamilton and Rosberg. These two have the fortune of driving the car which is unquestionably the class of the field in Formula One at the moment.

 

THE RACE FOR POLE

Three races in and Mercedes can count three pole positions, three wins and a pair of one-two finishes for its W05. Only Hamilton's engine failure in Australia has prevented a clean sweep.

It doesn't make much sense backing anyone else for outright victory at the moment. In the qualifying betting, Hamilton is on 1.72 for pole position, Rosberg 2.30, and everyone else's odds are more than six times longer.

Only the possibility of rain on Saturday - which is often a factor in Shanghai at this time of year - and the excellent downforce of Red Bull's RB10 makes it worth considering any of Mercedes' rivals. As Australia and Malaysia showed, over a single lap in wet conditions either of the Red Bull drivers might just supplant a Mercedes. Three-times Chinese Grand Prix pole sitter Sebastian Vettel offers odds of 15.00 to claim another, team mate Daniel Ricciardo is on 22.00.

 

HAMILTON A SAFE BET FOR RACE DAY

It's a similar story for the race where Hamilton is on 1.75 and Rosberg 2.75. It's probably not worth backing anything that doesn't have a Mercedes engine - which is both powerful yet frugal with its fuel over a race distance.

Fernando Alonso, last year's race winner, is priced at 25.00. But it's hard to make a case for backing the two-times world champion, as Ferrari are in disarray following an uncompetitive start to the season.

The two F14 Ts finished last of the points-scorers in Bahrain. Unfortunately this coincided with president Luca di Montezemolo's first appearance at grand prix this year. Earlier this week team principal Stefano Domenicali, who has headed up the Scuderia's F1 effort since 2008, handed in his resignation.

This is a remarkable turn of events at F1's most famous team, who were expected to adapt well to new regulations which put more of an onus on engine development instead of aerodynamic refinement. Particularly after they'd gone to the lengths of rehiring Kimi Raikkonen to partner fellow world champion Fernando Alonso in a pairing of formidable strength. But as noted earlier, you need the car to compete, and at the moment that's what Ferrari don't have. That has become increasingly clear in the odds for championship success.

 

EARLY TITLE BETS

Alonso is now at 34.00 to claim another drivers' title, Raikkonen 50.00. Hamilton remains favourite at reduced odds of 1.50, and Rosberg is priced at 2.75 to emulate his father Keke, who won the world championship 32 years ago.

And what of Vettel's chances of reclaiming the title he has won for the past four years? He is 38 points behind Rosberg in the standings, but if any team is going to make up the deficit to Mercedes it is surely Red Bull, who have worked wonders already since the season began.

China marks the first of three races at circuits which should suit the RB10. By the end of those his title chances could look more realistic, and his current price of 8.00 to take the title may end up looking like a bargain.

 

Keith Collantine is the editor of Formula One blog F1 Fanatic.