This weekend sees the China Grand Prix in Shanghai, a fortnight after Vettel beat both Mercedes to the win in Malaysia, the first time Mercedes had been beaten in a straight fight since the advent of F1’s turbo regulations at the start of 2014

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Whilst this column had a winner at the Malaysian Grand Prix  with Vettel in the “without Mercedes” market at 6/4, the win over the Mercedes at 16/1 was a major surprise as even though it was clear Ferrari were closing the pace gap to Mercedes everyone under-estimated the Ferrari’s ability to look after their tyres in the heat which meant they were able to make two stops compared to Mercedes’ three and even then, Hamilton and Rosberg still reported fading rubber over the radio.

The effect of Vettel’s victory has been to change the shape of the betting markets for China. From 16/1 to win last time out, Vettel is now 5/1 and in the without Mercedes market in from 6/4 to odds-on.

Shanghai has one of the longest straights of the season, with long sweeping corners mixed in with tight corners meaning the circuit is “front limited”, the opposite of Malaysia. This means that a low down force set up and outright speed usually wins. Last year Mercedes came home in a one-two on a circuit that really suits them. Air temperatures are set to be over 10 degrees colder in Shanghai than was the case at Sepang.

All this points to Mercedes in the ascendancy again. Ferrari technical director James Allison is also not convinced his team will be able to repeat its Malaysian Grand Prix performance this weekend. After Malaysia he spoke about the differences between the two races, and what it meant for his cars

“I know we have a pretty decent cooling package for which a lot of credit needs to go to the cooling team in the wind tunnel and also in the drawing office, who have put together a fairly innovative package on our car. That allows us to operate even in these fierce temperatures without having to open our car up badly.

“The track was quite rough and hot, which is hard for tyres, and we are fortunate that the car goes quite well on its tyres. I’m fairly sure that we will have our work cut out in China to do anything like as impressive a job as we have done here.”

The improvement Ferrari has made over the winter is undeniable and the extent of the step forward the team has made in both chassis and power unit was flagged up on race day in Melbourne, with Ferrari’s long run pace clear for all to see and close to Mercedes. In his previous position at  Lotus, Allison produced cars with good mechanical grip (especially sharp front end which suits Raikkonen’s style) along with low stress on the tyres. Mercedes still has more overall downforce and should be ahead in China.

For China this weekend then the value has come out of the Vettel price and Mercedes remain short odds on for everything from the race win, podium finishes and pole position. Instead there may be value in siding with Kimi Raikkonen to hit the podium at 5/2 with BetVictor. Raikkonen looked strong when coming through the field from 11th on the grid (shuffled back in mixed weather qualifying) to finish fourth in Malaysia and retired in Australia. He looks clear best of the rest behind the big three (Hamilton, Rosberg, Vettel) and with a style that suits the track

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