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Button gets ready for his 250th start, and Hamilton is favourite

Bahrain hosts the Formula 1 season’s third Grand Prix and it will be a special occasion for a certain Englishman, Jenson Button, who will celebrate his 250th start. He is currently fifth on the all-time entry list on 152 – five behind Riccardo Patrese in third, who he’ll surpass this year.

The former Drivers’ Championship victor (in 2009) came sixth the week before in Malaysia, but is a 28/1 shot to win for the first time this season in his landmark race, or 5/1 to be on the podium. He has managed to finish first before on a special occasion, in his 200th outing in Hungary 2011.

Compatriot Lewis Hamilton (11/10 favourite for the title) may spoil the party, however. The 29-year-old 2008 champion emphatically won the Malaysian Grand Prix, and is expected to get two victories on the trot (three for his Mercedes team) with a price of 10/11. He is odds-on at 2/7 to come in the top three, and 4/6 to be fastest qualifier.

The Englishman gave his team the highest of praise after the previous race, saying it was “the best car I’ve ever driven”. He also added: “The car was just spectacular this weekend. So I’m really, really happy with just a great performance by the team.”

Hamilton’s teammate Nico Rosberg (race second-favourite at 9/4) wasn’t able to replicate his first place finish in Australia, but managed to hold off last year’s Bahrain winner Sebastian Vettel (8/1) to be runner-up. German Rosberg’s price to be on the podium is 4/11, while odds of 15/8 say he’ll start in pole position for the second year running.

Be sure to place a bet on Fernando Alonso in this race. The Spaniard and his team Ferrari hold the record for the most wins on this circuit, with three and four respectively, and he has excellent prices of 16/1 to finish first again, or 15/8 to be in the top three.

Two-time world champion Alonso (16/1 to get his third) came fourth in Malaysia, and is now third in the season standings – one point behind Hamilton and 19 off leader Rosberg.

The pre-seasonal prediction of Mercedes’ (1/4 favourites) dominance has already started to come off, as they are already 25 points ahead in the Constructors’ Championship table with 68. Button’s McLaren team (16/1) are in second, ahead of Ferrari (12/1). Last season’s winners Red Bull, meanwhile, lag behind in sixth with just 15 points on the board.

Christian Horner’s team have not had the greatest of starts to 2014, especially his new driver Daniel Ricciardo, who saw his second-place finish at his home race in the season opener wiped off. He also faces a 10-grid penalty for Bahrain after breaking regulations in Malaysia.

In a Coral special, the third British representative Max Chilton, of Marussia, has the incredible record of never crashing out (21 races so far) and is odds-on at 4/7 to finish the race again.