Ferrari got their 2019 campaign off to a disastrous start in Australia after all the gusto from their impressive results in winter testing evaporated after finishing well adrift of Mercedes.
Sebastian Vettel was a minute slower than race winner Valtteri Bottas in Melbourne but talk from the paddock suggests we should see an improved showing in Bahrain at a track Vettel has come to love.
No driver holds more wins in the Persian Gulf than Vettel, who has won the last two editions of the Bahrain Grand Prix, with the German digging in last year on worn tyres to hold off Bottas.
That was his fourth victory and Ferrari as a team have won six of the 14 races staged at the Sakhir Grand Prix Circuit. The Italians will hope a return to one of their strongholds can kickstart their season and they are expected to show more of the kind of pace they demonstrated in testing.
With only one race under all the drivers’ belts it is tough to get a true lay of the land in Formula 1 and Vettel’s history and price, coupled with the suggestion Ferrari were holding back in Australia, means they are worth getting behind him.
Staying on the Ferrari bandwagon, Charles Leclerc will be hoping he gets to go wheel-to-wheel with Vettel this week after being told to stay behind him in Melbourne when coming home in fifth.
The 21-year-old enjoyed a decent debut outing overall and given the layout of the Sakhir circuit. with its long straights, it should suit his Ferrari. Red Bull enjoyed a great first race using the Honda power units and Max Verstappen is 11/10 to finish on the podium again.
However, Red Bull’s record at this track isn’t great, with Verstappen failing to finish the last two races, while questions remain about Honda’s straight-line speed. With that in mind, it should once again be between Ferrari and Mercedes to fill the top three.
Haas finished best of the rest in Australia a fortnight ago when ending up sixth and should go well again in Bahrain.
Kevin Magnussen finished this race in fifth last year and could post a similar result given the American team have the advantage over rivals Renault when it comes to straight-line speed.
Team-mate Romain Grosjean is a 31/20 chance and the only thing likely to deny at least one of the Haas from claiming a top-six spot is reliability, with Grosjean yet again having an issue after a bungled pit stop.