- Following his impressive performance in preseason testing, Max Verstappen has emerged as a slim favorite to win the Bahrain Grand Prix
- Reigning F1 champion Lewis Hamilton has claimed victory in Bahrain in each of the past two years but lags as a strong second favorite entering Sunday’s race
- We’ve got you covered with all the odds and trends as the 2021 Formula 1 season gets underway this weekend
Another season of Formula 1 racing kicks off this weekend, with the running of the 2021 Bahrain Grand Prix at 11:00 AM EST on Sunday morning at Bahrain International Circuit in Sakhir. Lewis Hamilton opens the campaign as a heavy favorite to capture a fifth straight F1 Drivers Championship. However, the Mercedes star looks to Sunday’s race narrowly trailing archrival Max Verstappen as a +145 second favorite in the wake of Verstappen’s impressive performance in preseason testing.
Here’s a look at all the odds, and drivers to watch, going into Round 1 of the 2021 Formula 1 season.
2021 Bahrain Grand Prix Odds
|Driver||Odds to Win||Odds to Finish Top Three||Odds to Finish Top Six||Odds to Finish Top 10|
|Carlos Sainz Jr.||+10000||+1600||+350||-118|
Odds taken March 25th at DraftKings
Can Verstappen Ride Testing Success to a Checkered Flag?
The burning question entering the 2021 F1 season is whether Hamilton can claim an eighth career championship win. Bahrain is as good a place as any for him to start. The 36-year-old Englishman has taken home the checkered flag in Bahrain in each of the past two years and reached the podium on nine occasions.
The big talking point of Saturday morning 👀
— Formula 1 (@F1) March 13, 2021
However, a disappointing performance on this track during preseason testing has raised doubts. Hamilton struggled with both performance and handling, as well as valuable testing time lost due to technical trouble, and finished a disappointing eighth.
— Planet F1 (@Planet_F1) March 20, 2021
Conversely, Red Bull’s success in testing has left Verstappen boasting that the Mercedes and their superstar driver can be beaten in 2021. Max Verstappen finished testing atop the timesheets while at the wheel of his new ride, the Honda-built RB16B. However, he faces a huge challenge to overcome past disappointments in Bahrain, where he was forced to settle for second place last year despite tallying the fastest lap.
Bottas a Podium Fixture in Bahrain
Like his Mercedes teammate, Bottas started off slow in preseason testing, finishing Day One at the back of the pack, but rebounded to turn in the fastest lap of the day while completing just 58 laps on Day Two.
🇧🇭 Previous podium finishes in Bahrain:
— Lights Out ●●●●● (@LightsOutF1Blog) December 6, 2020
In addition to adding value to his lengthy +850 odds to earn his first ever win in Sakhir, the Finnish driver’s steady start makes him a solid -125 bet to reach the podium at this event for the fourth time in five years.
Bahrain Grand Prix Recent Winners
|Year||Race Winner||Margin of Victory||Pole Position||Fastest Lap|
|2020||Lewis Hamilton – Mercedes||1.254 sec||Lewis Hamilton – Mercedes||Max Verstappen – Red Bull Racing|
|2019||Lewis Hamilton – Mercedes||2.980 sec||Charles Leclerc – Ferrari||Charles Leclerc – Ferrari|
|2018||Sebastian Vettel – Ferrari||0.699 sec||Sebastian Vettel – Ferrari||Valtteri Bottas – Mercedes|
|2017||Sebastian Vettel – Ferrari||6.660 sec||Valtteri Bottas – Mercedes||Lewis Hamilton – Mercedes|
|2016||Nico Rosberg – Mercedes||10.282 sec||Lewis Hamilton – Mercedes||Nico Rosberg – Mercedes|
|2015||Lewis Hamilton – Mercedes||3.380 sec||Lewis Hamilton – Mercedes||Kimi Raikkonen – Ferrari|
Perez Poised to Make Mark in Red Bull Debut
One of six veteran drivers sporting new colors this season is Sergio Perez. He hopes to maintain the momentum he gained late last season as he makes his debut with Red Bull as a +850 bet in the Bahrain Grand Prix odds. “Checo” closed out the 2020 campaign with podium finishes in two of his final four outings, including his first career win on the outer track in Bahrain at the Sakhir Grand Prix.
The 31-year-old Mexican was also on pace for a third-place finish at this event before seeing his race ended by engine failure with just four laps remaining. Measuring chances of success for a driver making his debut in a new car with a new team can be foolhardy. But it is tough to look past the value in the -112 odds of Checo reaching the podium this time around.
Leclerc Aims to Duplicate 2019 Success
With Sebastian Vettel joining Aston Martin in the offseason, Charles Leclerc is now the undisputed top driver for Ferrari. The rising star from Monte Carlo opens the new campaign on the rebound after enduring a tough campaign all around for Ferrari in 2020 that featured a disappointing 12th-place finish at this event.
— Formula 1 (@F1) March 30, 2020
However, both Leclerc and Ferrari have enjoyed past success in Bahrain. The Italian team has recorded six previous victories at this event, and Leclerc turned heads with a superb performance two years ago that saw him seize the pole and turn in the fastest lap on his way to a third-place finish.
Ferrari showed signs during preseason testing of moving past the rash of technical problems that plagued the team last season. And with Leclerc no longer forced to take a backseat to Vettel, the 23-year-old is worthy of a wager. That being said, both as a +175 bet to finish top six, and a lucrative +1200 bet to return to the podium are good bets for Leclerc ahead of the 2021 Bahrain Grand Prix.
The Picks: Valtteri Bottas to finish top three (-125); Charles Leclerc to finish top six (+175)