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Chinese F1 GP Preview: Another tough weekend for Ricciardo looms

Thu, Apr 6, 3:55pm by Staff Writer

Daniel Ricciardo is again at long odds for a win this week as Formula One heads to Shanghai after Ferrari announced themselves as genuine 2017 title contenders with Sebastian Vettel’s win at Albert Park

After outpacing Lewis Hamilton to take the chequered flag in the season opener at Melbourne last week, Vettel and Ferrari look to be contenders to wrest the F1 crown from Mercedes for the first time in four years.

While William Hill has Hamilton as the $2.25 favourite to win the Chinese Grand Prix, four-time world champion Vettel is a close second on $2.50.

Hamilton’s Mercedes teammate Valtteri Bottas is third favourite at $7, with Ferrari’s Kimi Raikkonen on $9.

Red Bull’s disappointing Australian GP leaves Ricciardo and Max Verstappen on $21 each as joint fifth betting favourites.

Ricciardo will need to demonstrate a vast improvement from his car this week if he is to establish himself as a title contender.

After crashing in qualifying at Melbourne, the Australian suffered gearbox problems that first saw him start from pit lane before ending his race early.

This week, he says qualifying with an undamaged car would be an ideal start to his Shanghai campaign.

“To start and finish, that’s my target,” Ricciardo told reporters.

“To finish qualifying and to start the race. That will already be better than Melbourne. We want to get close to Ferrari and Mercedes. If we can get closer to the podium, that already will be a better result.”

A podium would be a great result for Ricciardo, with $3.25 on offer for him to claim a top-three finish, along with Verstappen.

Hamilton is on $1.20 for a podium finish, with Vettel on $1.25, Bottas on $1.70 and Raikkonen at $2.10.

Verstappen complained the Red Bull cars lacked power and grip as he limped to fifth-place in Melbourne, almost half a minute behind Vettel.

With plenty of room for improvement, Red Bull team principal Christian Horner admitted his cars had slipped behind Ferrari to be the third best set up on the track.

“It’s still early days. I believe there’s really good development potential in the concept that we have,” he said.

Hamilton, meanwhile, will be looking to get his question reclaim the driver’s title truly underway in China.

The Englishman has already won more Chinese GPs than any other driver with four to his name, and his Mercedes’ pace on the longest straight of the F1 circuit could see him gain a big advantage on his rivals.

Another driver with fond feelings for Shanghai is McLaren’s Fernando Alonso, who has won in China twice before. While not considered a contender this season, at $1501 for a win, Alonso may tempt a few long price backers.

The Chinese GP gets underway at 4pm Sunday AEST.

Suggested Bet: Lewis Hamilton to win at $2.25

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