Chinese Grand Prix | Preview, Betting & Odds
There were some major regulation changes in Formula 1 ahead of the 2017 season, with both bodywork and tyres becoming wider. The resulting increase in downforce means faster cars, and this was certainly evident in the opening round in Australia where the fastest race lap was over two seconds quicker than in the previous 12 months. This was short of the widely predicted three to five seconds per lap improvement, though such speeds might me more achievable down the long straight at the Shanghai International Circuit: the setting for the Chinese Grand Prix this week.
Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel took the chequered flag in Australia: the team’s first win since Singapore in September 2015, and first in a season opener since 2010. Does this signal the end of three years of Mercedes dominance, or was it a flash in the pan? The truth probably lies somewhere in between, with many judges suggesting that it was the Mercedes pit stop strategy that cost runner-up Lewis Hamilton victory in Melbourne. Hamilton pitted earlier than Vettel, expecting to re-pass the German with the benefit of new tyres, but couldn’t overtake the Red Bull of Max Verstappen (positioned in between the pair) in order to have a crack at the Ferrari. Hamilton was just under ten seconds behind Vettel at the finish, with his new Mercedes teammate Valtteri Bottas, who replaced retired 2016 champion Nico Rosberg, taking the final podium position. Only three other drivers finished within a lap of the winner.
Vettel’s victory in Australia was fantastic for the sport, but don’t be surprised if normal service is resumed in China where Lewis Hamilton (evens), winner of this race four times previously (2008, 2011, 2014, 2015), is fancied to pick up the maximum 25 points. Mercedes will have learnt plenty from round one and we can expect improvement in several areas, especially with regard to their pitstop strategy.
Bottas was not far off the pace in Melbourne and the young Finn – yet to win a Grand Prix and on just a one-year contract at Mercedes – will be keen to impress. He might have to wait for his maiden victory, but could be the value in the ‘Exact Finishing Order’ market to come home second behind Hamilton, which is currently priced at 3/1.