Venue: Bahrain International Circuit
Lewis Hamilton’s absence has naturally forced a major shake-up in the Sakhir Grand Prix odds and we’re backing teammate Valtteri Bottas to take advantage.
The flying Finn has claimed two wins this season and finished second behind Hamilton on five other occasions, so this is an obvious pick in our book.
Young Briton George Russell has been cut to just 9/4 to prevail after switching from Williams to Mercedes for this contest.
However, 2/1 for regular No 2 Bottas to capitalise on this golden opportunity for a 10th career victory is a much safer bet for our Sakhir Grand Prix prediction.
Bottas is coming off a couple of frustrating efforts which saw his slim hopes of challenging Hamilton for the title evaporate.
Wing damage caused him to spin six times when a lowly 14th in Turkey and a slow puncture saw him slip to eighth in Bahrain last weekend.
The 31-year-old had qualified in second place behind Hamilton at this circuit, though, so those setbacks are put down to nothing more than bad fortune.
Team chief Toto Wolff said: “We need to find a way to break the pattern of him losing races for reasons that are beyond his control.
“Valtteri could have won a few more races this year and it’s just a shame that he needs to cope with these results.
“But it will make him stronger and now he just needs to give his best in these last two races and secure P2 in the championship.”
How the Bahrain Grand Prix finished
1 Hamilton (Mercedes), 2 Verstappen (Red Bull), 3 Albon (Red Bull), 4 Norris (McLaren), 5 Sainz (McLaren), 6 Gasly (Alphatauri), 7 Ricciardo (Renault), 8 Bottas (Mercedes), 9 Ocon (Renault), 10 Leclerc (Ferrari), 11 Kvyat (Alphatauri), 12 Russell (Williams), 13 Vettel (Ferrari), 14 Latifi (Williams), 15 Raikkonen (Alfa Romeo), 16 Giovinazzi (Alfa Romeo), 17 Magnussen (Haas), 18 Perez (Racing Point), DNF Stroll (Racing Point), Grosjean (Haas)
Max Verstappen is 6/4 favourite to pass the chequered flag first after being runner-up in Bahrain last weekend, ahead of Red Bull teammate Alex Albon.
The Dutchman declared: “I tried everything I could to stay with Lewis and there wasn’t much left to give, but unfortunately we were just a bit too slow.
“I think we could maybe have put Mercedes under a bit more pressure, but overall I think second is where we belong with the pace of the car.
“The car seems to be working well here so we’ll see how next weekend goes on the different lay-out but hopefully we can find a bit more pace and get everything that’s possible.”
However, with most of the Mercedes focus now falling on Bottas, we’ll be disappointed if he doesn’t step up to the plate.
When it comes to qualifying, the Brackley-based outfit have consistently wiped the floor with their opposition this year.
Hamilton has been on pole 10 times, with Bottas fastest on four occasions and only Racing Point’s Lance Stroll breaking the monopoly in Canada.
Those stats make 17/20 for Bottas to go quickest on Saturday a percentage pick for our Sakhir Grand Prix betting tips.
Only two drivers failed to finish in Bahrain a week ago, with one being Roman Grosjean following his horrific crash.
Safety will be at a premium this Sunday after that incident, so 4/5 for over 16.5 drivers to be classified in the end result again appeals from the Sakhir Grand Prix odds.
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