Formula One returned last weekend down Under in Australia with Germany’s Sebastian Vettel outlasting Hamilton in his Mercedes.
Judging by the evidence of the hotly contested opener in Melbourne, the title race will prove more exciting than in recent seasons when Mercedes have simply dominated the sport. Following Nico Rosberg’s surprise decision to call it a day at the pinnacle of his career, ten Formula One teams will battle it out.
Despite the opening race defeat down under, the British driver remains the hot favourite to regain the title he relinquished to his now retired teammate Rosberg last season. Back the Brit Hamilton with confidence at 11-10 with Ladbrokes to pick up his fourth FIA world drivers title in the Mercedes.
Bear in mind though the final race is not until November in Abu Dhabi, so you may have to wait a few months for payday. Look at it as a long-term investment.
New aerodynamics will make the cars race up to five seconds a lap faster. We knew Ferrari were red-hot fast, following intensive pre-season testing in Barcelona, with Mercedes surprisingly lagging a little behind. Both Red Bull and Williams also looked to have closed the gap, aided by the rule changes and many tweaks to the cars.
Going into the Aussie Grand Prix, Hamilton was happy to pass the role of title favourite to Sebastian Vettel who is seeking a fifth world title — but his first with Ferrari. And Hamilton was proved right as the German showed his testing speed was absolutely no fluke by taking the Aussie race pretty comfortably in the end. The Brit crucially got stuck behind Max Verstappen’s Red Bull and Vettel’s efficient race strategy enabled him to wrap up the opening 25 points. Expectations were high anyway this season for Vettel as Ferrari are simply yearning for a sustained spell of success. The German has plummeted to 8-5 (from 4-1) with 188 bet on the back of his first win.
It does look a two-horse race, but at least we have two different teams as opposed to the recent Merdeces mass domination.
Looking at the rest, Red Bull’s Daniel Riccardo failed to finish on home soil in Australian and has drifted to 33-1 with William Hill. Former world champ Kimi Raikkonen will likely play second fiddle to Vettel in the other Ferrari and is 20-1 with bet365.
The relatively unknown Valtteri Bottas replaced the retired Rosberg in the Mercedes and was a solid third on debut. With team orders likely to come into play later on in the campaign, the young Finn is an unlikely 11-1 to hamper Hamilton’s title bid, while the hugely talented, but volatile Verstappen (fifth in Oz) is sure to ruffle a few feathers again in his Red Bull at an attractive 25-1 with bet365 to win his first drivers crown.