Breaking Down The Bahrain Grand Prix: Odds and Predictions After Practice Day One

Breaking Down The Bahrain Grand Prix: Odds and Predictions After Practice Day One
Image © Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports
✍️ Written by
Frank Weber
🗓 Updated
May 24th 2023

The Formula One season kicks off this Sunday, March 20th in Bahrain. The race is set to start off at 6 PM local Bahrain time, which is 11 AM EST. This will be the first Formula One race since all the rule changes and new car regulations went into place, so you can pretty much throw everything you know about F1 out of the window.

The first day of practice for the Bahrain GP ended today, March 18th, and we already have some interesting stats to pick apart and take a look at. But before we do that, if you want to lock in your Bahrain Grand Prix bets you can click HERE to see which sportsbooks are available in your area.

BetMGM is offering up-to-date odds for the Bahrain GP, and if you use promo code ODDSSEEKER upon registration you can receive up to $1000 in free bets!

Practice Day One Results and Talking Points

AlphaTauri driver Pierre Gasly was surprisingly the fastest in FP1, but Max Verstappen set the quickest time of the day during FP2–at 1 minute and 31.936 seconds. Lewis Hamilton had an awful day on the track today, complaining mostly of porpoising on the straights throughout the entire second session. Hamilton ended FP2 with the ninth-fastest time, reaching a max speed of only 209km/hr.

Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc was incredible throughout both sessions, finishing with the second-fastest time in both rounds. Leclerc’s fastest lap was posted in FP2, where he finished just .087 seconds off of the mark set by Verstappen. In general, Ferrari had themselves a day: Carlos Sainz Jr. finished with the third-fast time in both practices rounds–which was still half a second off of Leclerc.

What we saw at FP1 and FP2 was fairly reminiscent of what we saw at the pre-season testing that ended about a week ago. While the pecking order was unclear, it was evident that Ferrari and Red Bull were beginning to separate themselves from the pack, while teams like Mercedes seemed to fall behind a bit.

Speaking of Mercedes, the entire team had a practice day to forget. George Russell drove well–he finished fourth fastest in both FP1 and FP2–but in the surprise of the day, Lewis Hamilton seemed to have struggled in his opening practice rounds. He posted the seventh-fastest time in FP1, and the ninth-fastest time in FP2.

Hamilton complained of his car “bouncing a lot” even with a slew of tire changes and was nearly sent off track at one point after the very first corner. It’ll be interesting to see what changes Mercedes makes to Hamilton’s car in the coming hours and if he’ll be at top form come qualifying.

One last thing to note before I get into my race day predictions is the surprising success Haas Racing saw in FP2. After the first practice session, it's fair to say morale was low for the American-based race team. Drivers Mick Schumacher and Kevin Magnussen finished 18th and 19th respectively, posting the two slowest times of the day.

However, in a later interview, Magnussen admitted that FP1 was more so focused on “race setup and race feeling…we weren’t really trying to set a lap time.” Come FP2, which was a 75% speed qualifier sim, both Schumacher and Magnussen saw incredible improvements on their lap times. Schumacher and Magnussen finished P8 and P10 respectively, each shaving 3+ seconds off of their previous times.

Here are the complete field results for the Bahrain GP FP1 and FP2:

FP1 Results:                                        FP2 Results:

1. Pierre Gasly: 1’34.193                     1. Max Verstappen: 1'31.936

2. Charles Leclerc: 1’34.557                2. Charles Leclerc: 1'32.023

3. Carlos Sainz Jr.: 1’34.611                 3. Carlos Sainz Jr.: 1'32.520

4. George Russell: 1’34.629                 4. George Russell: 1'32.539

5. Max Verstappen: 1’34.742              5. Fernando Alonso: 1'32.877

6. Lance Stroll: 1’34.814                      6. Valtteri Bottas: 1'32.951

7. Lewis Hamilton: 1’34.943                7. Sergio Perez: 1'32. 958

8. Fernando Alonso: 1’35.000            8. Mick Schumacher: 1'33.085

9. Yuki Tsunoda: 1’35.028                   9. Lewis Hamilton: 1'33.144

10. Sergio Perez: 1’35.050                  10. Kevin Magnussen: 1'33.183

11. Guanyu Zhou: 1’35.053                11. Lando Norris: 1'33.280

12. Esteban Ocon: 1’35.151                12. Esteban Ocon: 1'33.360

13. Nicholas Latifi: 1’35.644                13. Pierre Gasly: 1'33.621

14. Nico Hulkenberg: 1’35.815           14. Yuki Tsunoda: 1'33.789

15. Alex Albon: 1’35.923                     15. Guanyu Zhou: 1'33.953

16. Lando Norris: 1’36.304                  16. Lance Stoll: 1'33.958

17. Daniel Ricciardo: 1’36.402             17. Nick Hulkenberg: 1'34.061

18. Mich Schumacher: 1’36.536          18. Daniel Ricciardo: 1'34.166

19. Kevin Magnussen: 1’36.804           19. Nicholas Latifi: 1'34.486

20. Valterri Bottas DNF                        20. Alex Albon: 1'34.735

Bahrain Grand Prix Predictions

Race Winner: Charles Leclerc

I don’t think it should come as a surprise when I say: I think Ferrari is going to have a great race day. Yesterday, before any practices took place, I was able to get Charles Leclerc as the outright winner at +500. Now? He’s go the second-best odds at +225, sitting right behind Max Verstappen who is at +120.

If you are still a Lewis Hamilton believer, his odds have fallen all the way to +1000–which is probably the lowest odds he’s had to win a race in years. You could probably find some great value in both Mercedes drives if we’re being honest, but we would have to see some significant improvement out of Hamilton tomorrow if we want to remain optimistic.

All in all, I’m taking Leclerc. He was the most consistently fast during FP1 and FP2, and I really do think this Ferrari car is something special this year. Right now Leclerc is +225 on BetMGM sportsbook, but expect those odds to move with poor qualifying in day 2.

Top Six Best Bet: George Russell

Russell looked great on practice day one, and really looked like the better of the two Mercedes drivers. He was also incredibly consistent which is something you love to see leading up to a race. Top 6 is tough to call, but Russell should be able to accomplish the feat in his first-ever race for Mercedes.

Top Ten Best Bet(s): Mick Shumacher/Kevin Magnussen, and Valtteri Bottas

Bottas right now is at -150 to finish in the top ten on DraftKings sportsbook, and I think a majority of that was because of the car failure he saw in FP1. I think Bottas will be fine come race day, and will finish within the points.

Now, for my combo Haas pick–I think it’s really a coin flip between Schumacher and Magnussen, and honestly, it could even be both. I was incredibly impressed with their FP2 run, and it sounds like the best has yet to come. Could Haas have actually turned a new leaf with all these new rules and regulations changes? Who knows, but I’ll take the risk and say ‘yes’ while Schumacher and Magnussen are floating around even money.

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