Now that all the preliminary action for Sunday’s Bahrain Grand Prix is behind us, it’s time to figure out whom the smart bets are on for the second race of the 2019 Formula One season.
As we sit here today, bet big on the Ferrari’s. Yes, they may have struggled in the season opening weekend in Australia, but they’ve been so strong this weekend in Sakhir.
The Ferrari duo of Charles Leclerc and Sebastian Vettel were 1-2 in all three practice sessions as well as all three qualifying rounds on the 3.363-mile road course too. Plus, Ferrari has won the last two races in Bahrain with Vettel reaching victory lane in each try.
They seem strong to me.
The Mercedes duo are next up. Lewis Hamilton hasn’t won in Bahrain since 2015 and has just one runner-up finish in his last three tries. He rolls off third in his No. 44 Mercedes. The defending series champion was fourth, third and third respectively in practice too.
His teammate Valtteri Bottas has two straight podium finishes in Bahrain including a runner-up last year. Bottas, also won in dominating fashion in Melbourne two weeks ago this weekend. He was third, fourth and fourth respectively in practice and will start fourth in his No. 77 Mercedes as well.
In saying this, these are the top teams to beat on Sunday. Combined, no one other than a Ferrari, Mercedes or Red Bull driver has won the last 119 races. That’s not changing on Sunday. But, despite Ferrari being the clear favorites this weekend, only three times have teammates swept the top two podium spots in Bahrain.
So, a Ferrari is likely to win, but which one though? The other will likely finish third or further back. That opens the door for a Mercedes driver to finish second.
Red Bull hasn’t never led a lap in the hybrid era, nor finished on the podium. Max Verstappen gives them their best shot, but he starts fifth and hasn’t held a candle to Mercedes or Ferrari. He has a DNF in three of his last four Bahrain starts.
His teammate Pierre Gasly didn’t make it out of Q2 and starts 13th. Despite finishing fourth in this race last year, he was only sixth, 12th and 12th respectively in practice this weekend.
I don’t feel good about the Red Bull’s.
Top 5 Prediction
- 16 Leclerc – He’s been too good this weekend and I suspect this is his coming out party. In the six sessions (counting the three rounds in qualifying), he was fastest in five of them.
- 77 Bottas – He was quick in Australia and has fared better than his teammates in all of his six starts in Bahrain. He gets by Hamilton and gets strategy going his way for a second straight runner-up in the Middle East desert.
- 44 Hamilton – Shocker here, two Mercedes drivers on the podium. Hamilton, has had the third fastest car all weekend and finishes there. He has 12 podiums in his last 13 F1 starts.
- 5 Vettel – He pushes too hard and comes home fourth for his fourth finish outside of the podium in his last six Bahrain starts.
- 20 Magnuessen – His Ferrari engine propels him to a top five finish. This comes after finishing sixth in Australia. Magnussen, starts sixth and was eighth, seventh and 13th respectively in practice this weekend. Mercedes