Vettel title odds drop as Hamilton gets the laps in
Sebastian Vettel’s hopes of retaining his Formula One Drivers’ Championship title have taken a hit after his Red Bull car could only complete 14 laps on day one of the pre-season test in Bahrain. The event also featured the likes of Lewis Hamilton, Fernando Alonso and Felipe Massa.
The German was odds-on to get a fifth-straight title but after another poor showing in the first test in Jerez, where Red Bull managed just 21 laps over four days, it will give other drivers a real boost in confidence. Although he finished fifth fasted on the day, questions will be asked about the car.
Vettel said: “We had a problem with temperature in Jerez which we seemed to fix, at least with the couple of laps we could do. But very often you fix one problem and another one pops up.”
The 26-year-old has dominated the sport over the last five years, but he and his team have perhaps unfairly been accused of making Formula One too boring and predictable.
But the news from the first two tests will get punters and fans back in the spirit, especially with positive showings from the Mercedes-powered constructors, including the likes of Mercedes themselves, McLaren and Force India.
Hamilton (10/3 to win the Drivers’ Championship) set the third fastest time of the day, and the 2008 title winner will take great belief from his team’s effort into the opening race of the season in Australia on March 16th. The Englishman, who is title second-favourite, completed 74 laps on the day.
Elsewhere, Nico Hulkenburg of Force India had a terrific outing by finishing top after completing 78 laps. The German is only 10th favourite at 80/1 for the drivers’ title, but his performance will really encourage his team.
Last season’s runner-up and upcoming campaign third-favourite Alonso (6/1) managed to last 64 laps in his Ferrari, as he looks to assert himself as his team’s number one driver after the return of Kimi Raikkonen (12/1). The Spaniard, a two-time champion, managed an impressive second place at the test.
McLaren’s new recruit Kevin Magnussen put in another fine performance by finishing fourth after 81 laps – sandwiched between Vettel and Hamilton – and the 21-year-old (12/1 to win the title) will be looking provide decent backup for his new teammate Jenson Button (9/1) this year.
In pre-season so far, Mercedes have managed to complete the most amount of laps (383), and Coral have placed them as favourite at 6/4 to win the Constructors’ Championship title, ahead of Red Bull (13/8) and Ferrari (4/1).