5 Early Predictions for the Bahrain Grand Prix
In Formula 1, you should always expect the unexpected, and it's fair to say that we witnessed plenty of that two weeks ago in Australia. Valtteri Bottas' win has slingshot him into title contention when some were expecting the Finn to be replaced by Mercedes' test and reserve driver, Esteban Ocon for 2020, if not before.
Bahrain produced one of the most thrilling races of 2018, as Sebastian Vettel held off a charging Bottas in the late stages thanks to some of the finest driving in the four-time world champion's career.
What can we expect 12 months on? Sakhir usually springs a few surprises, so here are five bold predictions ahead of the 2019 Bahrain Grand Prix.
#1 - Gasly to get his First Podium
Pierre Gasly had an excellent year in 2018, being one of the standout drivers of the campaign despite it being only his first full season of Formula 1 racing. Gasly's highest finish came at the Bahrain Grand Prix, where he capitalised on the retirements of both Red Bulls and Kimi Raikkonen to finish an incredible fourth place.
Combined with standout performances in Hungary and Monaco, this drive earned the Frenchman a promotion the senior Red Bull team for 2019. However, it's fair to say things haven't gone to plan for young Gasly at RBR, failing to get out of Q1 in Melbourne before finishing outside the points and behind Daniil Kvyat, who drives for the junior team.
If anybody needs a good drive in Sakhir, it's Gasly, we all know how swift Helmut Marko is to swing his axe when one of his drivers are underperforming, just ask Kvyat. Despite this pressure, though, I'm backing Gasly to not only get a solid points finish, but to stand on the podium for the first time in F1.
Red Bull appear to be the second fastest car on the grid right now, Honda finally getting their act together. Of course, to do this won't be easy, as Pierre will have to be faster than his teammate Max Verstappen or one of the Mercedes men, but it's definitely possible.