The second round of the 2018 Formula One season is set to go lights out this weekend in the Persian Gulf region. The Gulf Bahrain Grand Prix (11:00 am ET/ESPN 2) will contest on Sunday for the 13th time in the country. After a wild race in Australia two weeks ago, the drivers look to bounce back with another thrilling round in the desert.
Who will be the five favorites to watch on Sunday?
Lewis Hamilton (-125)
The easy odds on favorite normally would be tough to beat. He’s a two time winner on the Sakhir Grand Prix Prix Circuit (2014 and 2015), with both coming in the last four years. Plus, his team in Mercedes, has won three of the last four races in Bahrain, with Nico Rosberg winning in 2016.
In the last race weekend, Hamilton was quickest in both dry practice sessions on Friday and even earned the pole in record breaking fashion on Saturday. In the race itself, he jumped out to an early lead. But, an electrical malfunction on his No. 44 Mercedes during the VSC kept him from being ahead of eventual race winner Sebastian Vettel under caution. Hamilton, couldn’t get around Vettel once we went back green and would finish second.
Now, he’s hoping for revenge. He has four straight podium finishes in Bahrain and 26 straight races in scoring at least one point. That’s one shy of tying Kimi Raikkonen for most consecutive races with scoring at least one point all-time. I think he not only ties Raikkonen on Sunday, but he gets at least another podium as well.
But, he’s been off this weekend and will start ninth after incurring a five position grid penalty. That may be too much to overcome.
Valtteri Bottas (+550)
This is an attractive bet here. He’s got the third best odds, but a great chance to win. This car won just two years ago and Bottas is hungry to put Australia behind him. After having such a fast car, he crashed in qualifying and had a five place grid penalty on top of that. He would only muster an eighth place run in his No. 77 Mercedes.
But, Bahrain could be kind to the Finnish driver as he’s looking to finish first. He was third last year in his first season with Mercedes and is primed to contend for at least a podium on Sunday.
He will start third and was second, third and sixth respectively in practice.
Kimi Raikkonen (+1600)
This may be the most attractive bet out there. Low risk but high reward. As I said in the preview on Vettel, Raikkonen had the top Ferrari in the season opener. He pitted a few laps too early in Australia. His No. 7 Ferrari was fastest in practice and qualifying among the two Ferrari drivers, so you know he had the car and talent to win if he was on Vettel’s strategy. Plus, Raikkonen has five runner-up finishes in Bahrain, two of which occurring in the last three years.
He was third, first and first respectively and second in qualifying.
This is a great value here.
Daniel Ricciardo (+1400)
Red Bull has been pretty stout this weekend, but Max Verstappen starts in the back after crashing in qualifying. Ricciardo is their best bet. He starts towards the front and has been fast so far. He was first, sixth and third respectively in practice and rolls off fourth today.