Formula Gulf Air Bahrain Grand Prix 2023: Back Ferrari in season opener

As pre-season testing disappears into the rear-view mirrors, Formula 1 finally emerges from winter hibernation this weekend for the Bahrain Grand Prix.

In its traditional season curtain-raiser, Sakhir signals a Middle Eastern double to start the new campaign.

With a short trip west into Saudi Arabia to come later this month, the 2023 term is set to be the longest yet.

Twenty-three races lie ahead but who will take the early spoils this weekend?


Red Bull top testing

For Red Bull, the new term represents the chance to underline their current F1 dominance.

After Max Verstappen retained his crown in 2022, Red Bull also claimed their first constructors title since 2013.

A casual glance at the F1 Power Rankings post-testing would therefore suggest Red Bull could again have it all their own way.

At the very least, the bookies see Verstappen the strong favourite to begin the new campaign in winning form.

For a best price this weekend, Midnite are carrying the Belgian to win in Sakhir at evens.


Scuderia offer value

For Ferrari meanwhile, the optimism of last season’s early showings in the first three rounds rather dissipated.

As Charles Leclerc picked up wins in Bahrain and at Melbourne, Scuderia would go on to top the podium just two more times.

That, despite claiming pole in four successive GP weekends between Miami and Baku.

Though Red Bull are expected to hit the ground running in Bahrain, there remains something of a monkey on boss Christian Horner’s back.

In the turbo-hybrid era, Red Bull are yet to win a season opener, either here or in Australia.

Therefore, Leclerc still carries significant value to take the chequered flag.

Indeed, a 9/2 shot with BetUK and UniBet must surely be considered, even pole at 9/4 with 10Bet.


Debutantes for points finish?

The new season is set to feature no less than three F2 graduates.

Nyck de Vries, Logan Sargeant and Oscar Piastri will all take their maiden F1 bow this weekend.

A trio highly regarded, Williams and McLaren likely to struggle however and De Vries could make an impact.

With AlphaTauri looking to have a good set up this year, the Italian manufacturer might surprise.

Powered by the Red Bull Honda engine, the team saw 10 points finishes last term.

De Vries and teammate Yuki Tsunoda could both grab points to open their season accounts, with the former 5/2 odds on the Betfair Exchange.

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