Difficult To Not Bet On Mercedes As F1 Title Favourites For 2018

Formula 1’s reigning World Champion Lewis Hamilton claimed that winning the 2018 Formula 1 Drivers’ Championship, his fifth, would be ‘impossible’. Though just 9 points apart with 18 races to go, the Briton, who is eager to equal Juan Manuel Fangio’s record of five titles, finds himself on the back foot after being outfoxed by rivals on race strategy in two out of three opening rounds of the 2018 Formula 1 Season.

Ferrari’s resurgent star Kimi Raikkonen hinted that the pecking order for this season could change with every race. A large part of this unpredictability could be attributed to Ferrari and Red Bull Racing working hard to close down the gap to Mercedes in the off-season and to Pirelli, the sport’s official tyre supplier, for introducing a larger variation among its tyre compounds and opening up the possibility of various race strategies.

Max Verstappen Should Get A Sports Psychologist

However, despite Mercedes not winning any races of 2018 yet, it would be almost difficult to not consider them as title favourites and this guide to online betting on Formula 1 offers various websites that offer the title odds. In Australia, Hamilton was comfortably leading the race and it was a stroke of bad luck and ill-timing of the Virtual Safety Car that saw Sebastian Vettel snatch his win. While Mercedes’ loss in Bahrain was down to Ferrari’s superior tyre management, in China too Mercedes lost the race whilst in the lead with Valtteri Bottas. It is only a matter of time before the Hamilton-Mercedes combo find their form (on-track and on the pit wall!) and the way to the top step of the podium, but till then, it would be difficult to predict title odds for the nine month long season.

Red Bull Need Ricciardo, Not The Other Way Around

As for Ferrari, they seem stronger and more focussed than ever before with Sebastian Vettel proving in Bahrain why he is so highly rated as a driver. But will the German be able to deliver Ferrari’s first title win since 2007 (incidentally won by his current team-mate Kimi Raikkonen) or will their title challenge fade away thanks to a combination of team-driver errors like it did in 2017? The Vettel-Ferrari combo seems fast and clinical, let’s hope the internal pressures of Ferrari don’t make them crack and fall apart.

Red Bull Racing may have won the last race in China, but would you bet on them or either of their drivers for this year’s titles? The answer would be a clear no and this is probably why Daniel Ricciardo is eager to move on to a faster works team. However, one could probably bet on them winning this weekend’s race in Baku; one that Ricciardo won last year as well. The other bet one could place on is Max Verstappen recovering from his early season slump and reminding us why he is so highly rated and one of the most-sought after drivers in the sport.

The closely matched grid has made for an interesting season of predictions for the fans. In fact, predicting which team and driver will finish as the ‘best of the rest’ is as interesting as predicting our podium finishers for each Grand Prix. Let’s hope that this unpredictability remains constant throughout the season.

Kunal Shah is an FIA-accredited Formula 1 journalist who has been reporting on Formula 1 for nearly two decades. He worked with the Force India Formula 1 Team for 6 seasons in Marketing, Sponsorship and Commercial roles. As a former single-seater racer, he was responsible for Force India's grassroots talent program, One from a Billion Hunt. Presently, he co-writes a regular Formula 1 column for Firstpost, speaks on Inside Line F1 Podcast & Pits to Podium and produces broadcast/OTT content for NENT Group (Viasport & Viaplay).

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