Bahrain Grand Prix: Hamilton to bounce back
Everything other than the result at the Australian Grand Prix went well for Lewis Hamilton and he is the clear favourite in the Bahrain Grand Prix betting to make amends this weekend.
Sebastian Vettel stole an early advantage in this year's title race following his surprise victory in Melbourne but punters should not be rushing to back him in the F1 championship betting at 4/1.
The Ferrari driver profited from a tactical miscalculation by Hamilton's Mercedes team to take the spoils but the British driver should have been celebrating from the top step on the podium after he followed up his qualifying masterclass with a dominant opening half of the race.
The error by his Mercedes team was a bad one and provides Vettel with early momentum but Hamilton must not be too despondent.
He was the class of the field on Saturday, finishing more than six tenths of a second clear of the rest, and, unlike in Melbourne last year, he had the race pace to boot, too.
It will be a tough defeat for Hamilton and Mercedes to take, but they delivered enough positives over the course of the weekend to retain their status as championship favourites.
Vettel's reaction said it all as the subdued race winner said: "At the moment we're a bit worse off than last year. If you are fair then Lewis was fastest here, whereas last year we were the fastest. Last year we had more pace at this point."
Mercedes have put a new process in place to ensure a similar error does not happen again and Hamilton is our Bahrain Grand Prix betting tip at 3/4 as he looks to win this race for a third time.
This is not a race that lends itself to an upset, with the eventual world champion winning this edition in six of the last nine seasons.
In the last decade though, the Bahrain Grand Prix has been the third closest race on the calendar with an average winning margin of 6.7 seconds.
Hamilton is not expecting an easy ride either, even though he is confident of a first win of the season.
"We have got a great car and we are still the world champions so with a couple of adjustments I believe we can win the next race," he said.
"You never know how the season is going to pan out as you do not get a good understanding until after four races, but Ferrari are quick.
"They are going to be rapid at the next race - they are always good when it comes to hot circuits - so it is not going to be easy and it is going to be close."
With that in mind, odds of 12/5 for the margin to be between five and 10 seconds appeal.
The last of our Bahrain Grand Prix predictions is Romain Grosjean to finish in the top six at odds of 5/4.
His American Haas team have emerged from the winter as the grid's greatest improvers and were on course for a personal-best finish of fourth and fifth in Melbourne before a dodgy wheel gun cost Kevin Magnussen and then Grosjean.
Haas' progress is a sore topic for the teams outside the so-called 'big three', with their car this year effectively a 'Ferrari B' package given their close technical links with the Italian team.
Grosjean has enjoyed plenty of success at this venue, finishing in the points in five of his six races here, including two podium finishes. He has improved on his grid position during the race on every visit and is relishing being back at one of his favourite circuits.
"I love driving in Bahrain," said Grosjean. "I've always had a good feeling there, and I think it's a really exciting track for racing and overtaking. We'll see how it goes again. As I said, it's always given me a good feeling, and I'm hopeful I can keep it going."