The wait is finally over, and it’s officially racing week for Formula 1! The season will kick off Sunday, March 20, at the Bahrain Grand Prix for the second straight year.
The 2021 season brought all the excitement, with the World Drivers’ Championship coming down to the last race between Max Verstappen and Lewis Hamilton. Ultimately, Verstappen came out victorious, but in controversial fashion. Still, he’ll look to defend his title in 2022.
There’s plenty of new things to look forward to heading into this season, with significant changes to technical regulations on the race and the cars. Along with that, five drivers will be racing for new teams: George Russell, Valtteri Bottas, Guanyu Zhou, Alexander Albon, and Kevin Magnussen.
Only three drivers currently on the grid have won here in Bahrain: Hamilton, Sebastian Vettel, and Fernando Alonso. However, Vettel will be missing the race due to a positive COVID-19 result, so Nico Hülkenberg will replace him in the Aston Martin.
Will Hamilton win here in Bahrain for the fourth consecutive year, or will a new driver start the 2022 season as a winner?
Here are our Bahrain Grand Prix predictions and best bets.
Bahrain Grand Prix Winner Odds
Bahrain Grand Prix odds and lines are current as of Thursday, March 17 at 10 a.m. ET and are courtesy of Caesars Sportsbook.
- Max Verstappen (+188)
- Lewis Hamilton (+300)
- Charles Leclerc (+500)
- Carlos Sainz (+700)
- George Russell (+1100)
- Sergio Pérez (+1800)
- Lando Norris (+2500)
- Pierre Gasly (+5000)
- Daniel Ricciardo (+5000)
- Esteban Ocon (+8000)
- Fernando Alonso (+8000)
- Mick Schumacher (+10000)
- Lance Stroll (+10000)
- Nico Hülkenberg (+15000)
- Kevin Magnussen (+15000)
- Alexander Albon (+20000)
- Valtteri Bottas (+20000)
- Yuki Tsunoda (+20000)
- Guanyu Zhou (+25000)
- Nicholas Latifi (+30000)
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Bahrain Grand Prix Prediction
In last year’s race in Bahrain, Verstappen took pole position, but Hamilton took the victory. Verstappen was sandwiched between the two Mercedes drivers, as Bottas came in third. Rounding out the top five spots were Lando Norris and Sergio Pérez.
Pre-season testing took place in Spain and, most recently, in Bahrain this year. Mercedes, AlphaTauri, and Ferrari put in the most laps at Bahrain, but Verstappen finished with the fastest time of 1:31.720. Hamilton only finished in the top-five times once in three days of testing.
The general consensus is that Ferrari has looked the strongest in pre-season testing, even gaining praise from Hamilton and Russell at Mercedes. Both Charles Leclerc and Carlos Sainz have looked strong in the new F1-75, being among the top drivers in testing.
That was just testing, however, where teams try to identify any problems with the car. The real test will come at practice and qualifying this weekend, and that’s where the Mercedes car will shine.
Hamilton comes into 2022 more determined than ever. He had his record-eighth championship slip through his fingers due to controversy on the year’s last race in 2021. Hamilton will look to start the year with a decisive victory in Bahrain.
As mentioned earlier, both Hamilton and Russell have called Ferrari the favorites heading into 2022, but I believe the Mercedes drivers are playing mind games. The car wasn’t anything special in testing, but that’s because they’re saving the real stuff for the race.
Mercedes will turn a lot of heads this weekend, and a lot of people will be shocked with how good the car looks. While Verstappen might be the favorite, I’m going with my gut and taking Hamilton in this one.
Bahrain Grand Prix Winner Pick: Lewis Hamilton
Bahrain Grand Prix Favorites
Max Verstappen (+188) at Caesars
While last year’s finish was controversial, it doesn’t discredit everything Verstappen achieved in 2021. Looking to 2022, Verstappen is just as determined as Hamilton to beat the other, as the Red Bull-Mercedes rivalry is at an all-time high.
Verstappen looked strong in testing at Bahrain, finishing second on Day 2 and posting the fastest time of the entire testing, 0.695 seconds faster than the driver behind him. He’s one of the more aggressive drivers on the grid, and combined with his skill, Verstappen can make tough maneuvers.
The Bahrain Grand Prix will set the tone for the rest of the season, and it wouldn’t be a surprise if Verstappen and Red Bull make a loud statement to kick off the season.
Lewis Hamilton (+300) at Caesars
Since 2010, the previous year’s champion has won the opening race the following year only three times, with Hamilton winning two of those. Based on that, the odds don’t look good for Verstappen.
Hamilton knows this track very well, having won in Bahrain five times. While he didn’t perform at the top of the pack during testing on this track, I have a feeling Toto Wolff told Hamilton not to reveal their entire hand.
Mercedes has won the last eight World Constructors’ Championships, so it’s hard to imagine Mercedes won’t win their ninth in 2022.
After last year’s controversial finish, Hamilton will do everything in his power not to have the championship be close in the end as it was with Verstappen. He’ll dominate from start to finish this Sunday.
Charles Leclerc (+500) at Caesars
As previously mentioned, Leclerc and Ferrari have looked the strongest in pre-season testing. At Bahrain, he finished among the top drivers for all three days. In addition, Leclerc posted the second-fastest time of the weekend with a 1:32.415 lap time.
In 2019, his first year with Ferrari, Leclerc not only finished third at the Bahrain Grand Prix, but he also had pole position and the fastest lap. He has the experience and success on this track, and with Leclerc predicted to finish toward the top of the pack in 2022, he should come out firing in race No. 1.
Bahrain Grand Prix Prop Bets
Carlos Sainz Podium Finish (+138) at Caesars
The top three drivers are at minus-odds to finish on the podium, so we’re going with Sainz as the best option at plus-odds.
Sainz raced well in Bahrain testing, finishing with the second-fastest time on Day 1 and the fastest time on Day 2. He finished eighth at last years’ Bahrain Grand Prix, but the Ferrari car looks much better than it did last year.
While Hamilton and Verstappen are the favorites to win another championship, Sainz is fifth on that list at (+1200). If Sainz wants to win his first championship and be Ferrari’s first champion since 2007, a podium here would be massive.
Max Verstappen Fastest Lap (+125) at Caesars
Verstappen might not be in the fastest car, but he’s certainly the quickest driver in Formula One. And when it comes to one-lap racing, Verstappen is one of the best to do it.
Last year, Verstappen had six fastest laps and started pole position at the Bahrain Grand Prix.
If Hamilton is in the lead, which I think will happen, Verstappen will be giving it everything he has to try and overtake him, giving Verstappen the fastest lap in the process.
Charles Leclerc Fastest Qualifier (+400) at Caesars
Though Leclerc only started at pole position twice last year, 2022 is a new year for the young driver.
I can’t say enough how Ferrari was the spotlight team in pre-season testing. This year’s car is a significant improvement from last year, greatly benefiting the already talented Leclerc.
Having tested well in Bahrain this past weekend, Leclerc should see similar success when it matters this weekend.
Nico Hülkenberg Points Finish (+100) at Caesars
With Vettel out of the opening day race, veteran Hülkenberg will step in his place for the race. Hülkenberg has been in Formula One since 2010, so he has plenty of experience to jump in a car and perform without warning.
In 2020, Hülkenberg replaced Pérez at the 70th Anniversary Grand Prix, where he qualified third and finished seventh. He then replaced Lance Stroll at the Eifel Grand Prix, where he finished eighth after qualifying last on the grid. The fans voted him “Driver of the Day" for his efforts.
Hülkenberg has been without a seat for two years and signed with Aston Martin last year as a reserve driver. If he wants to make it back to the grid as a full-time driver, a strong showing in Bahrain will help his case.
Both Mercedes Drivers To Score (-250) at Caesars
McLaren would’ve been my pick here, but Daniel Ricciardo didn’t test in Bahrain due to being positive for COVID-19. So I’m much more confident in both Mercedes drivers finishing with points.
Unless there’s an early race retirement, Hamilton is almost guaranteed to finish with points. For Russell, he’s a new face in the Mercedes, as he comes over from Williams. The 24-year-old had success in a much weaker car, so joining the top team should have him often finish in the top 10.