Monaco Grand Prix Betting: Red Bull Out To Halt Rampant Mercedes

Are Mercedes going to win every race this year? No team has ever achieved a clean sweep in a world championship season, but after five rounds, Mercedes look capable of doing just that.

In the five races this year they've enjoyed a margin of around seven to eight tenths of a second per lap over their rivals. That may not sound like much, but in F1 it's a huge margin. Over a race distance it gives them an advantage of around 40 seconds to the opposition, which explains why a Mercedes has led every lap of the season so far.

But if they're going to be beaten anywhere, Monaco is the most likely venue, for more than one reason. Mercedes' strength lies first and foremost in the power and fuel economy provided by their engine, but that's not what wins races at Monaco. The slow, tight, narrow street course demands a car with superior traction and maximum aerodynamic grip.

Therefore Red Bull have to go into this weekend believing it represents their best chance of disrupting Mercedes' dominance. The RB10's biggest shortcoming - its poor straight-line speed - will count for less, and the qualities of Adrian Newey's chassis will matter more. Even so, Sebastian Vettel and Daniel Ricciardo are going to have to be at the top of their game to get in among the Mercedes during qualifying.

Saturday's shootout for pole position is a huge part of the game at Monaco. It's unusual for this race to be won by anyone other than the pole sitter, because overtaking on race day is virtually impossible. There's a lot riding on those final flying laps.

That's why Monaco has a habit of throwing up surprise winners. Think back ten years ago, when Michael Schumacher won every one of the first 13 races except Monaco - where Jarno Trulli scored the only victory of his career. Vettel may have won the last four world championships in a row but in that time he had just one win at Monaco to team mate Mark Webber's two.

So while it's hard to look past the two Mercedes drivers and their depressingly short odds on victory - 1.60 for 2008 winner Lewis Hamilton, 2.50 for last year's victor Nico Rosberg - the Red Bull drivers should not be discounted. Sebastian Vettel is priced at 10.00, Daniel Ricciardo at 14.00.

The podium betting also offers some attractive odds. Kimi Raikkonen, who started on the front row the last time he drove a Ferrari in Monaco, is at 7.50 to claim his first podium finish since returning to the Scuderia. Raikkonen was the only driver to run on both days of the test at the Circuit de Catalunya which followed the last race, giving him an added opportunity to prepare for this weekend.

He is one of six previous winners of this race in the field, which also includes his teammate Fernando Alonso 22.00 to win & 2.75 for a podium and McLaren's Jenson Button 125.00 to win & 20.00 for a podium.

The odds on which drivers out-qualify their team mates this weekend also make interesting reading. Sergio Perez, who tends to go well here, is at 2.40 to beat Force India team mate Nico Hulkenberg. And while Pastor Maldonado may have a patchy reputation, and is yet to out-qualify team mate Romain Grosjean so far this year, he is undeniably quick around street circuits. He's priced at 2.10 to be the leading Lotus on the grid for Sunday's big race.

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