F1 heads to the desert this weekend for the first floodlit race of the season in Bahrain.

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Max Verstappen: Points finish Evens bwin

The Mercedes drivers were dominant in Bahrain last year as the high-speed nature of the circuit played to the strengths of their powerplant and they finished first and second with Hamilton taking the win.  This race follows a week after the Chinese Grand Prix where Mercedes also finished one-two and managed their tyre wear well to hold off both Ferrari’s.

This season is shaping up as a clear battle between Mercedes and Ferrari. Mercedes have a powerplant advantage and aerodynamic efficiency creating downforce. The former means that they will usually qualify on the front row of the grid, their single lap pace still being quicker than the rest of the field. The latter means, that unless there is a tyre mismatch at a stage of a race, they are difficult to over-take under current F1 regulations. Ferrari have a car that is easier on its tyres and on the evidence of Malaysia a tyre that operates better in hotter conditions. This gives them some flexibility in race strategy to challenge Mercedes, but not on outright pace

Unfortunately for Ferrari, Bahrain is a floodlit race and so the possible benefit of a middle east race in day time for their tyre advantage is reduced.  Pirelli will bring the white-marked medium and yellow-banded soft compounds to the Bahrain Grand Prix.  The Italian manufacturer’s motorsport director Paul Hembery says: “We have the same tyre choice as we did in China for Bahrain, although there will obviously be a bit more temperature involved. However, with the race taking place in the evening, conditions won’t be as aggressive as they were in Malaysia – or even Bahrain two years ago, when the race was still run during the day”

So with this in mind it no surprise to see Mercedes strong favourites again for this weekend with Hamilton 1/2 and Rosberg 11/4 in the outright. With less value on offer than there was a week ago in Rosberg each-way, i’ll look to one of the sub-markets for an alternative way of playing the race

In the points finish market, where all the drivers from the major teams are prohibitively priced short odds-on shorts, Toro Rosso’s Max Verstappen is Evens with bwin. The 17 year old debutant has impressed in each of his three grand prix weekends to date and last month in Malaysia became the sport’s youngest points scorer by a full two years.

That eye-catching form continued in China last weekend as Verstappen pulled off several impressive late-braking overtaking moves on rivals to move into the points-paying positions again, although an engine failure robbed him of eighth three laps from home.

Toro Rosso has competitive pace in midfield, and with Red Bull struggling, McLaren off the pace and Force India slow there are spots in the top ten available each grand prix weekend. Verstappen is enterprising, a racer with real potential and should be odds-on here

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Max Verstappen: Points finish Evens bwin