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Mercedes duo to continue friendly rivalry for victory in China

Formula 1’s fourth race of the season is held in China, at the Shanghai International Circuit for the 11th year running. Britain’s Lewis Hamilton has won the last two Grand Prix’s, and is odds-on favourite at 8/11 for victory again.

Englishman Hamilton is currently second in the Drivers’ Championship table (odds-on at 1/2 to finish first at the end of the season) and 11 points behind Mercedes teammate Nico Rosberg (2/1). The German is priced at 7/4 to get his second win of the campaign.

The last Grand Prix, in Bahrain, produced one of the most fantastic spectacles in recent Formula 1 history. Both Hamilton and Rosberg battled it out for virtually the whole race, rotating between first and second, with the former just being able to hold off the latter at the end.

While Mercedes, heavy odds-on Constructors’ Championship favourites at 1/14, have been almost faultless this season so far, Red Bull (7/1) and Ferrari (28/1) have had no luck up to this point.

Following the race in Bahrain, the famous Italian team announced the departure team principal Stefano Domenicali, who stood down after Ferrari’s poor start to the campaign. They are currently down in fifth place in the standings, already 78 points behind runaway leaders Mercedes, and will hope the new boss replacement, Marco Mattiaci, can turn their fortunes around.

Fernando Alonso, currently fourth in the drivers’ standings, will be hoping to lead that turnaround. He won this race in China last year, but is only fifth-equal favourite, with former teammate Felipe Massa, at 33/1 to defend his Shanghai crown.

The Spaniard is the joint-record holder for this circuit, the other being Hamilton, with two wins, so he is not a bad shout to spring a surprise and prove the doubters wrong, like he did so many times last season. A safer bet would be for him to finish on the podium at 4/1, however.

Red Bull, meanwhile, were recently hit by the news that their appeal, to overturn the decision at the Australian Grand Prix to disqualify Daniel Ricciardo, was rejected. Although the outcome was expected, it sums up their miserable start to the season. They sit just two points ahead of Ferrari in fourth.

Four-time Formula 1 champion Sebastian Vettel has produced one podium finish (third) in the first three races this season, in Malaysia, and is priced as third-favourite at 7/4 to do so again, or 14/1 to win.

German Vettel has dominated the sport over the last four years, but is really struggling this time around, as he has picked up just 23 points and is down in sixth place – behind Jenson Button, who is level on points.

One man in positive mood for this race is Button, whose team suffered in Bahrain. Although the 2009 champion has managed one podium finish this season (third in Australia), McLaren (33/1 to win the Constructors’ Championship) are currently number three in the standings.

Button, who made his 250th Formula 1 start in the last race, is priced at 7/1 to be in the top three in China, or 50/1 for his first victory of 2014.

Force India’s Nico Hulkenberg, meanwhile, has made a strong start after the opening three Grand Prix’s, despite yet to be on the podium. He is third in the standings, on 28 points, and the German is an outside shout at 40/1 to win. Coral give a price of 9/2 for him to be in the top three this time around.