Chinese Grand Prix Betting: Hamilton to win but the pressure is all on Bottas and Verstappen
Ralph Ellis looks at two drivers who made different choices last Sunday in Bahrain but both face added scrutiny in China this week as a result...
"Verstappen's car is definitely quick enough to challenge both Mercedes and Ferrari on a good track like China where overtaking is possible, and the very least he should be looking for to make up for his Bahrain errors is a podium finish."
Back in the 1990s when John Gregory first took over Aston Villa, he transformed a team that had lost five of the previous seven games into one that won seven of the next eight.
During that run I asked one of the players what the secret was. "He's made it fun," I was told. "On Thursdays we don't do any football, we don't think about the next game, we just go to the Indoor nets and play cricket."
The following season after a record breaking start came a bad spell. "What's gone wrong?" I asked the same player. "It's a joke," came the reply. "All we do on a Thursday is play cricket, what sort of way is that to prepare for a football match?"
It was the ultimate lesson that in sport, only the result matters. Whatever you do is either right or wrong, according to the outcome.
You want another example? It happened only last Sunday in the Bahrain Grand Prix when Max Verstappen went for a bold overtaking move down the inside of Lewis Hamilton, while Valtteri Bottas chose not to attempt the same manoeuvre on the last lap against Sebastian Vettel.
Does Bottas lack bottle?
Verstappen got it wrong, touched wheels, got a puncture and was out of the race. Hamilton called him a "d***head" in the drivers' cooling off room and then claimed the youngster is costing Red Bull points through his lack of experience.
Meanwhile Bottas, who finished second to Vettel, has been accused by the BBC's former F1 driver and expert Jolyon Palmer of lacking the bottle to have grabbed the race win that should have been his.
So we'll arrive on the grid for Sunday's Chinese Grand Prix with both drivers under added pressure to deliver.
For Verstappen, this is a massive season. After being hailed as the boy wonder when he burst onto the scene winning his debut race with Red Bull two years ago, his second campaign touched occasional heights with two race wins but largely failed to build on the promise.
Now he has to show that while he's still only 20 he can step up to be something more than the "stupid boy" making mistakes among the men.
Hamilton's five wins in Shanghai
His car is definitely quick enough to challenge both Mercedes and Ferrari on a good track like China where overtaking is possible, and the very least he should be looking for to make up for his Bahrain errors is a podium finish.
As for Bottas, the accusation from Palmer is that other drivers are taking liberties with him because they don't think he's willing to take risks in the heat of battle. You can't believe that Hamilton, in the same circumstances, wouldn't have attempted the last lap overtake and risked losing everything in pursuit of the win.
Having backed him for a podium finish in Bahrain I suppose I should have been happy that he played safe and guaranteed my money, but it's not the first time the Finn has chosen to settle for second place and it just doesn't sit easy in what should be a sport for daredevils.
Hamilton can never be accused of failing to race, and after two Grand Prixs where things outside his control have gone wrong, I'd expect him to be seeing the chequered flag this time. Odds slightly better than even money [2.06] seem good at a track where his win in 2017 was his fifth there in all.