As we head into our third race week on the bounce, the Formula One circus moves from the well-known Autódromo José Carlos Pace in Brazil to the Losail International Circuit for the inaugural Qatar Grand Prix.

Only two of the current drivers on the grid have raced at the circuit previous – Sergio Pérez, who won in GP2 Asia’s only visit in 2009, and Nikita Mazepin, who first raced in a single-seater at the track in 2014. The rest of the drivers have been drawing their conclusions from the simulator, with all saying it’s a unique, fast edition to the calendar. That’s no surprise from a track that was predominantly designed for motorcycle racing.

Hamilton closing the championship gap

Lewis Hamilton produced one of, if not the greatest performance in a Formula One car last weekend, defying a disqualification in qualifying and a five-place grid penalty for the race to be on the top step of the podium. It was Hamilton at his best and served as a reminder as to why he’s a seven-time World Champion. He’s closed the gap on Verstappen in the championship as is now 10/11 to win a record eighth title.

He’ll be looking to bring that incredible momentum with him into this weekend. Many have speculated whether the track will suit the Mercedes or the Red Bull, with most guessing that it will suit the Silver Arrows more. If Mercedes can harness the same sort of pace they did in Brazil, then you’d be led to believe that it’s advantage Hamilton.

With a victory this weekend, Lewis could also become the first driver in the history of the sport to win at 30 different circuits. He’s currently the 8/13 favourite to win this weekend’s Grand Prix.

Verstappen still leading

Although eventually succumbing to the flying Hamilton last weekend, Max Verstappen is still the World Championship leader with three races to go and is the market favourite to win his maiden championship at 4/5. His onboard footage from his elbows-out defending on the weekend was released, with Mercedes launching an official Right to Review from the FIA.

As mentioned, it’s difficult to say whether the track will be greater suited to the Mercedes or the Red Bull. Sergio Pérez stated that the circuit was high speed and a lot of downforce will be required for the corners. Whether this plays into the Red Bull’s hands is yet to be seen, but Verstappen is second in the market to bounce back and win the Qatar Grand Prix (7/4).

Pérez and Bottas with tactical roles

Formula One is a team sport and with both Sergio Pérez and Valtteri Bottas out of the running for the World Championship, you can almost guarantee that their energy will be going towards helping their respective teammates win the title. Team orders are usually groaned at by motorsport fans but it’s hard to see them not being used over the final three race weekends.

Expect both drivers to be gunning for 1-2 finishes this weekend or at least a podium finish. Bottas is 8/11 to finish on the podium whereas Pérez is 13/8.