Odds lengthen on a Rosberg repeat win
The 2012 F1 season just keeps on producing surprises.
McLaren romped home in Australia, Fernando Alonso took a superb opportunistic win for Ferrari in Malaysia and Nico Rosberg claimed his maiden Grand Prix triumph for Mercedes in China.
Now it’s Red Bull who have come to the fore once again. For Sunday’s race we have the familiar sight of the world champion, Sebastian Vettel, on pole position.
This is quite a turnaround for Vettel, who just one week ago failed to make it into the top ten in qualifying.
Short odds on Vettel
Now the odds on him winning have been slashed to just 2.6, and with very good reason.
To win an F1 race, the best place to start from is pole position. But Vettel turned this simple formula into something of an art form last year.
Regularly he was able to claim the top spot, then make a spectacular getaway. This meant that, within two laps, no-one was able to get within the vital one second zone behind him to use the Drag Reduction System to try to pass.
Expect him to try the same today. He should be aided at the start by the layout of the grid: while he starts from pole position on the grippy left-hand side of the track, Lewis Hamilton in second place will be scrabbling for traction in the dirt and dust.
Longer shots for victory
Last week’s race winner Nico Rosberg is a surprisingly long 12.0 to win from fifth on the grid. This is despite him being the quickest driver in practice.
What’s more, Rosberg has at least one advantage in hand as he’s saved an unused set of soft tyres for the race, which should help him as the Bahrain heat is giving drivers real problems with their tyres.
Look also to Jenson Button. If ever a driver could coax the best out of a set of tyres in challenging conditions, it’s him.
His race pace has been at least a match for Hamilton’s this year. He lines up fourth on the grid, and well aware that third-placed Mark Webber has a reputation for sluggish getaways.
It’s not difficult to see this race falling into Button’s hands – and he’s priced at 6.0 to win.
Other Bahrain bets
Michael Schumacher has not had the best of luck so far this year.
A gearbox glitch forced him out in Australia while he was running second. He was holding the same position in China last week when a mechanic failed to tighten a wheel correctly after his pit stop.
Then during the first part of qualifying today his rear wing flap stopped working, leaving him powerless to progress to the next stage.
He will start tomorrow’s race from 17th place.
But Schumacher does have the benefit of more sets of fresh tyres than the front runners. And the powerful DRS on his Mercedes should help him make light work of the stragglers.
As we saw several times last year, he can make some terrific starts as well.
All this makes his price of 9.0 to finish on the podium (i.e. in the top three) look like an interesting gamble.
And as last week, check out Kimi Raikkonen on 10.0 to set the fastest lap of the race. He’s another driver with extra sets fresh tyres looking to make progress through the field tomorrow.
Keith Collantine is the editor of Formula One blog F1 Fanatic