Saudi Arabian Grand Prix predictions: Fingers crossed for Ferrari challenge
- Red Bull favourites to back up historic Bahrain triumph
- Charles Leclerc was only 0.594 seconds behind Verstappen in Saudi Arabia last year
- Recommended bet:
- Charles Leclerc each-way
Red Bull’s Max Verstappen confirmed the worst fears of their Formula 1 rivals with a dominant lights-to-flag victory in the season-opening race in Bahrain, and more of the same is expected in Saudi Arabia.
Verstappen led home team-mate Sergio Perez in a Red Bull one-two with the nearest non-Red Bull of Fernando Alonso nearly 40 seconds adrift of the race winner.
It was the biggest winning margin in a season-opening race since McLaren’s victory in Australia in 1998 and after the race, Mercedes driver George Russell predicted Red Bull could win all 23 races this season, such is the gap between themselves and the rest of the grid.
to make it two wins from two at a track where he has collected more points than any other driver, but there is a chance matters will not be quite as cut and dry at the high-speed Jeddah Corniche Circuit as they were in Bahrain.
Spectacular and speedy Saudi showdown
The Saudi Arabian Grand Prix may only be two years old but it has already provided some memorable moments, with incidents galore, including Verstappen and Lewis Hamilton coming together in 2021, followed by a thrilling fight for first between Verstappen and Charles Leclerc last season.
Verstappen would eventually cross the line 0.594 seconds ahead of Leclerc, and the hope is the Ferrari driver can push the world champion close once more.
The make-up of the Jeddah Corniche Circuit, the fastest street venue in F1 history and second fastest track on this year’s calendar, where drivers are averaging 250km/h and going full throttle for 75 per cent of the lap on the many long straights has previously played to Ferrari’s strengths.
And figures from pre-season which had Ferrari at just 0.3km/h slower than Red Bull’s top speed suggest the Italians may not be far behind.
Williams have top 10 in their sights
Ferrari could prove Red Bull’s only serious challenge with Fernando Alonso potentially finding this track does not play to Aston Martin’s strengths as he bids to back up his 99th career podium.
Alonso’s Aston is still likely to prove quicker than Mercedes, despite the two teams sharing an engine, with the Silver Arrows set for another tough weekend.
They endured a nightmare start to the season in Bahrain in which they finished over 50 seconds behind Red Bull in fifth and seventh and boss Toto Wolff is pessimistic about their future prospects, admitting the design of the car is significantly flawed.
Mercedes are being sucked back into the pack, which looks highly competitive at this point in the season with even Williams in the mix for points right now.
The Oxfordshire outfit appear to have made massive gains in the off-season after being the backmaker for so many years and caught everyone by surprise in Bahrain when finishing 10th and 12th.
Williams were quick in a straight line in testing and Alexander Albon may like his chances of backing up his 10th-place finish in Bahrain on the long Saudi straights.