Ricciardo's Red Bull a value bet to squeeze on to Chinese Grand Prix podium
Vettel hot favourite to continue perfect start to the season
Chinese Grand Prix
Sky Sports F1, 7.10am Sunday
For the second time in two weeks Sebastian Vettel left it late to deny his Ferrari teammate Kimi Raikkonen a pole position and the German is a warm order to win the Chinese Grand Prix.
Vettel won the first two races of the season, in Australia and Bahrain, and is rated 11-10 joint-favourite with Lewis Hamilton to win the world championship.
Victory in Shanghai would see Vettel become only the third driver since the turn of the millennium to win the first three races of the season after Nico Roberg (2016) and Michael Schumacher (2000 and 2004). Both drivers went on to win the title in those years.
Reigning champion Hamilton qualified a disappointing fourth behind his Mercedes teammate Valtteri Bottas but all is not lost for the Briton.
When using the soft compound tyre, on which the first four on the grid will start, Hamilton has been much more competitive than on the ultrasoft, which was used to decide the grid order.
He wouldn't be the worst bet at 4-1, but Hamilton will be on the back foot unless he has a storming first lap.
For the first time this season, both Red Bull cars will start in the top six where they belong, and we may finally get to see if they can live up to the promise of their long-run pace during practice.
Max Verstappen and Daniel Ricciardo will start on ultrasoft Pirellis. Those tyres have been wearing out quickly in practice, but the Red Bull is less punishing on its rubber than most other cars and with the track now more heavily used it should be less abrasive than earlier in the weekend. Starting on the softer tyres should also help the Bulls to make a good start.
Verstappen starts ahead of Ricciardo, whose mechanics worked wonders to get him on the track for qualifying after an engine failure in final practice.
However, the young Dutchman has paid the price for overexuberant driving in each of the first two races and Ricciardo could be the better bet to make the podium.
After a slow start to the season Force India look in better shape this weekend. Sergio Perez has yet to finish in the points this year but this time he is nearer the front of one of the most competitive midfields in recent memory.
Perez starts eighth and with the season already having seen plenty of drama he could have a better shot at finishing in the top six than the odds suggest.
D Ricciardo podium finish
1pt 9-2 Hills
S Perez top-six finish
1pt 10-3 Betfair, Hills, Paddy Power
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