After an explosive Malaysian Grand Prix, Formula One has had three weeks for the dust to settle before the action resumes again this weekend.
The gloves are off at Red Bull following Sebastian Vettel’s pointed refusal to heed team orders which led to him passing Mark Webber to win in Sepang.
The last race also saw Nico Rosberg being told to finish behind Lewis Hamilton. He did as he was told and both Mercedes drivers were unhappy after the race – but they should be a force this weekend.
It’s hard to make a case on betting against Sebastian Vettel to take another pole position and with his odds as low as 1.9 there’s not much point backing him. But it might be worth covering his team mate Webber at 6.0.
Among the more interesting picks for Saturday are the Ferrari drivers. Despite having out-qualified Fernando Alonso for the last four races in a row, Felipe Massa is available at longer odds to beat his team mate and can be backed at 2.3.
The first two races of the year have demonstrated that the Lotus has strong pace when it comes to the race but isn’t as competitive over a single flying lap. Kimi Raikkonen failed to break into the top six in qualifying in the first two races, so odds of 4.5 on him to start outside the top ten are worth considering.
The betting options for the race are more promising. I’d start with a serious look at Nico Rosberg, who offers excellent odds of 12.0 to repeat his victory of last year.
It’s been clear from the first two races that the Mercedes W04 is a more competitive proposition that its predecessors.
Hamilton is on odds of 9.0 to win, and with two prior victories at the circuit he’s certainly worth considering. But Rosberg seems to have a special flair for Shanghai – he’s led 46% of the racing laps at this track in the last three years, which is particularly impressive given the cars he’s had in that time.
Returning to Raikkonen, he’s finished all 21 races since his F1 comeback at the beginning of last season. If you think that run will end this weekend, you can get odds of 6.0 on him failing to finish. A driver is classified as a finisher if they complete 90% of the distance.
New betting options
Unibet has new betting options available for this race, some of which are definitely worth a look.
Group Betting, pools four drivers together and invites you to pick which of them will finish highest. Two of the combinations stand out as being especially worthy of your attention.
Force India driver Adrian Sutil can be backed at odds of 5.25 to beat Felipe Massa, Jenson Button and Romain Grosjean. Sutil has shown considerable pace in the Force India – he was quickest in Q1 in Malaysia and led for 11 laps in the season opener.
Similarly Nico Rosberg is on 4.25 to finish in front of Kimi Raikkonen, Mark Webber and Lewis Hamilton. As explained above, Rosberg is a good tip this weekend but remember that in the closing stages in Malaysia he was ordered not to pass Hamilton, so be wary of a repeat situation.
You can also pick which driver will retire first. This is rather random but with all the odds 11.0 or longer the rewards are quite lucrative. I’d plump for Pastor Maldonado on 12.0 to extend his string of non-finishes.
Keith Collantine is the editor of Formula One blog F1 Fanatic