OK, re-arrange the words: Formula Circus Hits Bahrain One; and you’ve got yourself a headline. But, what you might not have is an inside view on this weekends’ action. We asked an F1 Trader at leading London bookie, Sporting Index, for his views on the race.
Of course, the big news is the launch of the new Ferrari F2005 at Bahrain. After testing, both drivers reported that the new car was a big improvement. And it needs to be, Schumacher is on just 2 points after 2 races.
Even so, it’s unlikely that the Red Cars will be emulating last year’s 1-2 in both Qualifying and the Race. A combination of a new car and questionable tyres won’t help. Can the Bridgestones withstand the desert heat? At Malaysia they were 1.5 seconds a lap behind the Renaults. Also, the vulnerability of the tyres under the extreme temperatures at Sepang were all too obvious. Bridgestone need to take a huge step forward to allow Ferrari a chance at winning. My guess would be that the new Ferrari is what the Scuderia want. Having said that, they probably need to wait until San Marino to challenge for the top step of the podium.
The real problem for any manufacturer at the Sakhir circuit, is not so much the sand, but that the circuit is extremely hard on brakes. Bahrain is probably second only to the Canadian GP in terms of the hardest on brake discs. With a lack of opportunity for them to cool, it means that managing the performance and wear will be key to a successful race.
In 2004, both McLaren drivers ended up retiring early with engine problems. Their problems are compounded this year by the fact that Montoya sustained a shoulder injury playing tennis. While Pedro de la Rosa is an able deputy, his lack of race experience over the last couple of seasons, coupled with the new engine and tyre regulations, means that your money could be more wisely invested elsewhere.
For a cheeky punt this week, I’d look at something a bit different and possibly buying the Toyota drivers on a spread betting Win Index (ie backing the outsiders to do well).
Last year we saw 9th and 10th place finishes for the Toyota drivers at Sakhir in a very poor car. They should be far quicker this weekend. Trulli has started both races on the front row and produced the first ever Toyota podium finish a fortnight ago. Ralf also had a big points finish at Malaysia. Under the guidance of ex-Renault boss, Mike Gascoigne, they look like a value punt. Likewise, BAR are still struggling with both reliability and speed. Toyota look well placed to continue their excellent form.
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