Formula 1 celebrates its 1000th race in China this weekend as the chequered flag drops in Shanghai.
Daniel Ricciardo tasted success on the International Circuit last year with Red Bull, but it’s been all silver, black and green over the last decade with Mercedes winning four of the last five Chinese Grand Prix’s.
There are three short-priced favourites to choose from this weekend including Charles Leclerc, Sebastian Vettel and Lewis Hamilton. The fallout of the Bahrain Grand Prix has called Ferrari into question, while Mercedes will hope to win their third-straight race with Hamilton and Valtteri Bottas already sitting atop the standings.
So, will we see a challenger, an outsider, or a favourite cross the line first?
Be sure to check out our entire 2019 Chinese Grand Prix Preview below.
Chinese Grand Prix Best Bet
Charles Leclerc @ $2.63
The 21-year-old looked home for all money in Bahrain before a catastrophic power failure ended Leclerc’s dream of winning his first ever Formula 1 Grand Prix. Keep in mind, the Monacan held a 5.0 second per-lap lead over Lewis Hamilton before things went haywire – highlighting just how confident Leclerc is in the driver’s seat on testing tracks.
Ferrari’s bright young prodigy will need to be on top of his game in Shanghai, but the notoriously long pit-straight should favour the teams’ power. The tight turns have been perfectly mastered by Hamilton, who is a five-time winner on this circuit. Even so, Leclerc’s aggressive racing style should have him feeling confident this weekend if the car holds up. Which is, of course, more than we can say for teammate Sebastian Vettel right now.
Chinese Grand Prix Podium Finish
Valtteri Bottas @ $1.95
It’s hard to get too excited about the odds, but this still looks like a safe bet after re-examining Bottas’ second-place finish in China last year. The Finnish superstar has already outclassed teammate Lewis Hamilton once by winning the Australian Grand Prix, but he also came out on top in China last year with the Englishman finishing fourth.
Bottas qualified third in Shanghai last season and also set the fastest lap in Melbourne last month. Speaking of qualifying, Mercedes’ record in China is better than any other track on the F1 calendar. Considering the eventual Chinese Grand Prix winner has started from pole in nine of the last 15 races, backing a reliable car, and driver, like Bottas is well worth your money.
Chinese Grand Fastest Lap
Sebastian Vettel @ $3.75
Sebastian Vettel failed to answer his critics at Bahrain, and things might only get worse this weekend with teammate Charles Leclerc so far looking like the more competitive driver.
Vettel’s only win on the Shanghai Circuit came way back in 2009, and although it’s hard to find faith in him winning this weekend, there’s no reason he can’t set a speedy lap time. Vettel was well on pace for a podium finish in Bahrain a fortnight ago before an unfortunate incident with Lewis Hamilton cost him his front wing. We were promised big things from the Prancing Horse during the preseason after encouraging testing times in Barcelona, and with perhaps the best straight-line speed in Formula 1, Vettel will have every opportunity to make full use of his red line in China this weekend.