After his shock win in Malaysia, Sebastian Vettel has been extra careful to keep the lid on expectations ahead of the Chinese Grand Prix, but the German’s words are thinly veiled given the pace Ferrari have shown and their record in Shanghai.
“We did a great job in Malaysia, but we have to be realistic,” said the 27-year-old German ahead of Sunday’s race. “Mercedes is in a strong position.”
Vettel then suggested:”There were circumstances coming together.”
The four-time world champion, who is tantalisingly priced at 5/1 for successive victories, was pointing to the detrimental effect of the searing Sepang heat on Mercedes’ tyre management.
Under their chosen strategy Mercedes were unable to make the faster, softer tyre last long enough and having been forced to race the harder, slower compound for conservation, it played into Ferrari’s hands.
However, victory for the Italian team did not arrive solely off the back of tactical supremacy, the red cars’ pace was on the back bumper of the Silver Arrows all weekend, highlighted best by Vettel splitting Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg in qualifying.
It is true that the cooler conditions in Shanghai could tip the scales back into Mercedes’ favour, but this is also a circuit where Ferarri have flourished previously.
Since its inaugural appearance on the F1 calendar in 2004, no team have enjoyed more than the four race wins the Scuderia have pulled off, and not just with Michael Schumacher behind the wheel, as Fernando Alonso triumphed in 2013.
Hamilton is still a worthy 8/13 favourite having taken the chequered flag in Shanghai last season, while only finishing off the podium twice in eight starts.
The one big quirk working against the Brit is that no driver has won the Chinese Grand Prix in successive years in the decade since its inception.
All Odds and Markets are correct as of the date of publishing.
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