F1 Bahrain Grand Prix 2021 Race Preview
The 2021 Formula One World Championship kicks off on Sunday, March 28 with the Bahrain Grand Prix, where Lewis Hamilton will begin his chase for the record-eighth F1 title that would make him the most successfully F1 driver in history.
Can Lewis Hamilton achieve the mentioned feat remains to be seen, but with the reports about Mercedes’ handling issues, there are serious concerns not only about Hamilton’s chances to win in Bahrain but potentially losing out on the Driver’s Championship as well?
Bahrain was initially intended to host the second race of the 2020 season, but it got postponed to late November due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The F1 schedule eventually saw Bahrain International Circuit host two races in Bahrain Grand Prix and Sakhir Grand Prix, which were the 15th and 16th round of the 2020 Formula One World Championship.
The 2020 Bahrain Grand Prix was contested on the usual track layout, with Lewis Hamilton claiming the checkered flag ahead of Max Verstappen in second and Alexander Albon in third. Even though Hamilton tied Sebastian Vettel’s record for the most wins in Bahrain (four), that race wasn’t made famous for that as much as it will be remembered for Romain Grosjean’s explosive crash.
The Sakhir Grand Prix, meanwhile, was contested on the outer circuit of the Bahrain track, marking the first F1 race on this track configuration. The penultimate race of the season ended with Sergio Pérez winning – despite being dead-last at the end of the first lap – ahead of Estaban Ocon and Lance Stroll in third. It marked Pérez’s first F1 victory on his 190th try, as well as Ocon’s first podium of his career.
Even though the Shakir Grand Prix proved to be the more memorable race, there are plenty of reasons to be excited about the 2021 Bahrain Grand Prix – and not necessarily because Hamilton is only one win away from becoming the most successful driver on this track.
The layout of the track should be all too familiar to all F1 fans, so we won’t talk about it here, but instead focus on the weather forecast, which does bring up a few questions. The current forecast shows we can expect warm, dry, and windy weather for all three days which could prove challenging for the engineers – particularly for Williams and Mercedes.
The biggest struggle drivers and teams will have to deal with is the wind, which will change its direction each day, meaning the cars will handle differently every day. That said, this should be more of an annoyance rather than a huge problem, since the teams have had enough time to get a taste of what to expect in the testing, so they should be ready for the race day.
The windy conditions, however, could spell problems for Williams and Mercedes. While we expect Williams to struggle with the weather because the team themselves have said their aerodynamic package is very sensitive to win, Mercedes historically struggle in such conditions.
Max Verstappen and Lewis Hamilton are technically the only two favorites to win this race given how large the gap is between the two and the rest of the field. And while that doesn’t necessarily mean no other driver stands a chance here, we will only focus on those two for this part of our betting preview.
Max Verstappen is priced at 2.37 to win the Bahrain Grand Prix, essentially making him a favorite ahead of Lewis Hamilton at 2.50. After the two, there is a huge jump to Sergio Perez at 7.00 and Valtteri Bottas at 8.50 in third and fourth, and beyond that Daniel Ricciardo who is priced as the fifth-favorite with odds as high as 26.00 at Bet365.
Most of the F1 races are all about Mercedes but it seems like the betting market has decided Red Bull is most likely to win and I can’t blame it. That said, the gap is not necessarily big, which is quite surprising considering how much Mercedes have been struggling in testing.
There is an argument to be made Verstappen is not as good of a driver as Hamilton and I wouldn’t dare to question that, but will the driver’s quality gap be enough to compensate for the Red Bull’s advantage – or better said Mercedes’s struggles?
As we have established Hamilton is the better driver, but he is also notorious for slow starts. In his career, the Brit has won only two out of 14 opening races and while we might give him some slack since most of those happened on Albert Park, Austria, the underwhelming record still stands.
Then there are also the concerning numbers from testing, where Mercedes haven’t impressed. At this point, it’s worth noting that testing times can often be misleading and don’t show the real picture, but what if I tell you the testing took place on the same track as the opening race – you might want to put a bit more importance on those numbers.
F1 Bahrain Grand Prix Betting Picks
Now that we have all the basics of the F1 Bahrain Grand Prix 2021 race covered, let’s take a look at our season betting tips and predictions. If you are following, make sure to check around for better odds! All tips are already posted on our premium site.
Verstappen in an excellent spot to start the season with a W
It’s always exciting to see the favorite fail, only to make the season a bit more exciting, however, that’s by no means the reason why we like the Dutch driver more for this race. Mercedes are clearly struggling with their cars heading into the season opener, which is a serious concern for a constructor that hasn’t had such issues for the past seven years.
Given Mercedes’ weaknesses, you have to ask yourself which team is the one who can exploit that? As it stands now, there is not one that comes close to Red Bull who should be more than capable to take advantage of the situation and start the season strong.
When we talk about the team, we have to consider there are two drivers, but out of the two, it’s easy to know who the most likely victor is. Perez should be competitive enough to finish the race in a solid spot, but it’s Max Verstappen who looks ready to win.
Prediction: Max Verstappen to win, 2.37 at Bet365
Lando Norris shouldn’t be overlooked
You might be wondering why we have Lando Norris as one of our predictions, but the reason behind it is quite simple. McLaren have looked improved last season and they have the same power unit as Mercedes – without handling problems.
This essentially means Norris will be driving a (slightly) slower version of a car that has claimed seven Constructor Championships, which might be a bit slower on long runs, but tends to drive at about the same pace as Mercedes. Will that be enough for Norris to win? Probably not, but he should be competitive enough for at least a top-six, or possibly even a podium finish.
Prediction: Lando Norris top 3, 7.00 at Bet365
Prediction: Lando Norris top 6, 1.83 at Bet365
Raikkonen can claim points
Alfa Romeo now have Ferrari’s power unit which not only means Kimi Raikkonen will be driving a much more reliable, but also a significantly faster car. The Finn has finished seventh here for Alfa in 2019 and performed well in testing, which leads us to believe he should look much better in 2021.
While we don’t expect Raikkonen to win or even compete for a podium, a points-finish should be within the realm of possibilities. How hard can it be to claim points on a track where Raikkonen holds eight career podium finishes?
Prediction: Kimi Raikkonen Points finish, 4.00 at Bet365
This sums up our 2021 Bahrain Grand Prix betting preview. All of the tips for the race were already sent out to our premium members ahead of time, so consider joining our premium membership for only 50€ a month and get your hands on better odds. You can also check out our 2021 F1 Season preview which we have provided for free on our website.