MALAYSIAN GRAND PRIX: Lewis Hamilton struck a potentially fatal blow to Sebastian Vettel’s hopes at the Singapore Grand Prix. One of the few remaining circuits that Vettel was favoured to win turned into a nightmare with Hamilton fully punishing the German’s first corner crash with Max Verstappen and teammate Kimi Raikkonen. Vettel’s DNF represented the first by either of the Championship protagonists in this campaign and leaves Ferrari hoping Mercedes suffer similar misfortune before the season’s end.

Lewis Hamilton, fresh from an unexpected race win and 28 point championship lead, will be looking forward to Malaysia. The Sepang International Circuit very much plays into the Merc’s hands, read Silverstone and Spa for the form here. Two enormously long straights are punctuated by a variety of high, medium, and low speed corners. While the tight stuff will benefit Ferrari, there’s simply too much margin for Mercedes to gain on the Scuderia. All that being said, this is the track where Hamilton lost his 2016 title. The Brit suffered an engine failure while leading the race, Nico Rosberg inherited both a 28 point swing and ultimately the championship. Regarding his current championship lead, this experience is instructive – anything can happen in F1.

For Ferrari, Sebastian Vettel has an excellent record at Sepang. The four time World Champion is the most circuit’s most successful driver (4 race wins) and beat Mercedes in a fair fight at the height of their dominance in 2015. Vettel responds well to pressure, he’ll be on it in Malaysia and will likely push Hamilton every meter of the race. His teammate has fallen back to ‘laggard’ status in recent weeks and needs to find some pace if he’s to help Vettel in his pursuit of the title. Kimi Raikkonen has the tools, but too often this season allows the set-up of his car get away from him on Friday and Saturday.

Valtteri Bottas has written off his title challenge and stated his aim is to supplant Vettel in second place. All well and good but the Finn will need to find pace he’s not yet unlocked to get between the Ferrari and his teammate.

A preview of the Malaysian Grand Prix can’t go without a mention of Danial Ricciardo, hitherto referred to as the maximiser. Red Bull’s saviour in the face of Max Verstappen’s stunning DNF record (50%!), Ricciardo won last year’s instalment after Hamilton’s problems and will doubtlessly be standing by if the front four have anything approaching an issue. For Verstappen, the guy can’t catch a break, sandwiched and smashed by Ferrari at Singapore, he can outpace and outrace Ricciardo, he’s just rarely afforded the opportunity.

For the midfield battle, Force India will be keen to reassert their dominance over a resurgent Renault team. The French outfit have been lauded for the their mid-season development this year and with Jolyon Palmer finally landing in the points last time out, they may have enough in their arsenal to hope for double points finishes. Toro Rosso scored an incredible fourth at Singapore but will suffer at Malaysia while Williams look consigned to the tail end of that midfield pack. McLaren can expect to suffer with their power delivery here once again and will do well to threaten the points.


As mentioned, it’s hard to look past Hamilton at 1.86 this track. Vettel will be on hand to mop on the first glimpse of an error from Hamilton or Mercedes so 3.45 represents good value considering Ferrari will be close all weekend. It’s almost pointless to look at Valtteri Bottas (7.6) or Kimi Raikkonen (26) for the race win anymore as both are guaranteed to be fully focused on helping their respective teammate’s championship bids. Considering he won here last year and is on the racing form of life, Daniel Ricciardo is the attractive outside bet at 17.5.


Hamilton backers can compensate his short outright odds with the ‘Hamilton Treble’ this weekend. Pole position, fastest lap and the race win at (3.6) are certainly within his grasp. As we said, Ferrari and Vettel could be on hand to sweep up the remaining podium steps – ‘Prancing Podium’ offers (3.7) on both Ferraris making the rostrum. There’s interesting options further down the grid with the battle for midfield supremacy heating up. Force India are the incumbent ‘best of the rest’ leaders, and a price of (1.98) for both their drivers to finish in the points reflects their success. The value here could lie in our ‘Resurgent Renault’ special. With Jolyon Palmer scoring in the last round, and Nico Hulkenburg nearly guaranteed points in a normal race, odds of (4) look pretty tasty.

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