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BETTING GUIDE: Who are the favourites for the season-opener in Bahrain?

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BAHRAIN, BAHRAIN - FEBRUARY 23: Max Verstappen of the Netherlands driving the (1) Oracle Red Bull

The new F1 season gets under way this weekend in Bahrain, as Red Bull set about trying to defend their titles. But the others might have a thing or two to say about that, especially given pre-season testing left a lot of unanswered questions.

Can Mercedes, McLaren and Ferrari take the fight to the Bulls? Can anyone beat Max Verstappen or is the Dutchman going to pick up where he left off last year? Let’s see what the odds tell us…

188BET’s odds are presented in decimal form: for every $1 wagered you would win the figure represented by the odds; so, if Verstappen is favourite at 1.50, you would win $1.50 for every dollar bet.

IT’S RACE WEEK: 5 storylines we’re excited about ahead of the 2024 Bahrain Grand Prix

The odds for the win

Unsurprisingly considering what we saw last year, the odds have Verstappen as favourite for victory in Saturday’s twilight race. But interestingly, considering how strongly Sergio Perez started the season last year, he isn’t second favourite – that goes to Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc.

BAHRAIN, BAHRAIN - FEBRUARY 23: Max Verstappen of the Netherlands and Oracle Red Bull Racing

Verstappen is chasing a fourth straight world title in 2024

The Scuderia did look good in testing here last week, with both Ferrari drivers seemingly happy with the SF-24 and the strides the team have made in the off-season. As for the rest, the odds can’t quite split the Mercedes pair and Lando Norris, with Carlos Sainz also in the mix in the second Ferrari.

Max Verstappen 1.35
Charles Leclerc 10.0
Sergio Perez 13.0
Carlos Sainz, George Russell, Lando Norris, Lewis Hamilton 21.0
Fernando Alonso 29.0
Oscar Piastri 34.0
Alex Albon, Daniel Ricciardo, Esteban Ocon, Lance Stroll, Pierre Gasly, Yuki Tsunoda 301
Kevin Magnussen, Logan Sargeant, Nico Hulkenberg, Valtteri Bottas, Zhou Guanyu 601

READ MORE: What tyres will the teams and drivers have for the 2024 Bahrain Grand Prix?

The odds for who will be fastest in qualifying

Red Bull didn’t always have it all their own way in qualifying last year, with Ferrari scoring a fair few pole positions – especially towards the end of the year. Both Leclerc and Sainz are proven performers over one lap, whereas qualifying was an area Perez struggled with in 2023.

Can the Mexican right some of those wrongs with a strong showing in the opening weekend? He has shorter odds than Norris, another driver who often excels in qualifying but made a few under-pressure errors last season.

BAHRAIN, BAHRAIN - FEBRUARY 23: Charles Leclerc of Monaco and Ferrari looks on in the garage during

Can Leclerc continue his incredible one-lap pace and start the season with a pole?

It’s the first qualifying of the season and a first chance to really see the pecking order, so the drivers will all be going all out to get their year off to the best possible start.

Max Verstappen 1.83
Charles Leclerc 3.50
Carlos Sainz 9.00
Sergio Perez 10.0
Lando Norris 17.0
George Russell, Lewis Hamilton 21.0
Fernando Alonso, Oscar Piastri 81.0
Alex Albon, Daniel Ricciardo, Esteban Ocon, Lance Stroll, Pierre Gasly, Yuki Tsunoda 301
Kevin Magnussen, Logan Sargeant, Nico Hulkenberg, Valtteri Bottas, Zhou Guanyu 601

The odds for a podium finish

Fernando Alonso went on a brilliant podium run in 2023 at the start of the year, with five rostrums in the first six races. But he’s going to have stiff competition if he wants to repeat that feat in 2024, with Ferrari, Mercedes and McLaren all looking strong.

F1 NATION: Challenging Red Bull and assessing the driver market – it's our 2024 season preview

That being said, there were a few reliability gremlins during testing for the top teams, and McLaren last year really struggled with a number of factors in the first couple of races. If retirements come into play, the likes of Alpine and even RB might fancy an outside chance of an early podium.

BAHRAIN, BAHRAIN - FEBRUARY 23: Fernando Alonso of Spain driving the (14) Aston Martin AMR24

Alonso went on a podium rampage at the start of 2023 - he'll be looking to do something similar this year

The fight for the top three should be hotly contested, and give us a good indication of how the season might pan out.

Max Verstappen 1.16
Charles Leclerc, Sergio Perez 1.90
Carlos Sainz, George Russell, Lewis Hamilton 3.00
Lando Norris 3.75
Fernando Alonso 8.00
Oscar Piastri 13.0
Lance Stroll 41.0
Daniel Ricciardo, Yuki Tsunoda 51.0
Alex Albon, Esteban Ocon, Pierre Gasly 101
Kevin Magnussen, Logan Sargeant, Nico Hulkenberg, Valtteri Bottas, Zhou Guanyu 201

The odds for fastest lap

Whoever scores the fastest lap of the race earns a bonus point for their team, provided they finish in the top 10. Given that the year as a whole is an unknown, and the title fight could come down to single digits, expect the top drivers to want to grab this one – if they are in a safe position to do so.

READ MORE: Hamilton says elements of Mercedes’ preparation ‘the best I’ve ever seen’ after 2024 testing

A late pit stop for fresh rubber could garner than bonus point, but a mistake in the pits could also cost places. It’s a tricky thing to balance, and watching who goes for it and who plays it safe will be fascinating.

Max Verstappen 1.63
Charles Leclerc, Sergio Perez 8.00
Carlos Sainz, George Russell, Lewis Hamilton 13.0
Lando Norris 17.0
Fernando Alonso, Oscar Piastri 41.0
Lance Stroll 67.0
Alex Albon, Daniel Ricciardo, Esteban Ocon, Kevin Magnussen, Logan Sargeant, Nico Hulkenberg, Pierre Gasly, Valtteri Bottas, Yuki Tsunoda, Zhou Guanyu 301

BAHRAIN, BAHRAIN - FEBRUARY 23: Lando Norris of Great Britain driving the (4) McLaren MCL38

McLaren finished last season strongly - but their form is an unknown heading into this weekend

What are the odds for which team will take the most points?

Unsurprisingly, the bookmakers have Red Bull the favourites to take home the most points. The pressure is on Perez to deliver, as he is out of contract at the end of the year and knows there are a queue of drivers lining up for his seat. Starting the year with a 1-2 would certainly ease some of that pressure, especially if he can go wheel-to-wheel with his team mate.

Ferrari sneak ahead of Mercedes and McLaren in the odds, which given the times from testing makes sense. As for the Mercedes – McLaren fight, that one looked too close to call last week, with both teams having strong driver line ups to go with decent looking cars in 2024.

Red Bull 1.22
Ferrari 7.00
Mercedes 10.0
McLaren 13.0
Aston Martin 23.0
RB 151
Alpine, Haas, Kick Sauber, Williams 301

READ MORE: Alpine drivers admit team ‘on the back foot’ heading into 2024

The odds for a Safety Car appearing during the race

The Safety Car didn’t come out in Bahrain last year despite a chaotic race – instead the VSC made an appearance. Will the same be true in 2024? Much will depend on reliability and how hard the drivers want to fight in what is going to be a long season, but they are racing drivers, so you can probably draw your own conclusions once those five red lights go out.

Yes 1.50
No 2.40

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