Tue, Mar 21, 2:18pm by Senior Writer
Hopes of a first-ever home Australian Grand Prix victory have taken a dive in recent weeks, with Daniel Ricciardo now out to $11 to stand atop of the podium in the season’s first race in Melbourne this weekend.
A new era of F1 – we say that every year but the cars are going about four seconds a lap quicker this year – dawns at Albert Park this Sunday, but it’s the same face at the top of the market, with Lewis Hamilton at $2.25 to win the race for a third time.
Hamilton won the final four race of last season, but wasn’t able to pip Nico Rosberg for the title, and his typically surly demeanour was soured further when Rosberg up and retired, leaving Hamilton unable to exact revenge on him in 2017.
Instead, it will the rest of the grid that feels Hamilton’s wrath and the Brit is $2 to win his fourth world title this year, with Mercedes expected to again be the car to beat.
Unfortunately for Aussie fans, while the gap to Mercedes has been bridged in the off-season, it is Ferrari, not Red Bull, which have made the ground. As a result, Sebastien Vettel, the four-time world champion who went winless last season, is $4.50 second pick for the title.
WATCH: Our Preview of the Australian Formula 1 Grand Prix
Hamilton’s new teammate, Finn Valtteri Bottas, formerly of Williams, is $6 for the title, ahead of Ricciardo’s Red Bull teammate Max Verstappen at $9 and the Aussie at $10. Ferrari’s Kimi Raikkonen is at $11, the only other driver under $201.
Raikonnen hasn’t finished the past two Australian GPs and was running second last year when flames billowed from his airbox.
Ricciardo and Verstappen are $11 after an inconclusive testing period recently at Barcelona. It was far from disastrous, but we simply didn’t learn enough about Red Bull to expect them to be able to keep pace with the other two teams.
Ricciardo is of course aiming to become the first Aussie ever to secure an official top three place in his home Grand Prix he stood on the podium in 2014 only to be later disqualified.
The markets have him at $2.88 to finish top three, something he did on eight occasions last year to finish third in the world drivers’ championship.
The development of his teammate Verstappen, will be one of the most fascinating stories in F1 this year. He doesn’t turn 20 until September, yet he made the motor racing world stand up and take notice in 2016 after winning his first race in a Red Bull in Spain and then pulling off the most audacious overtaking moves of the year over the course of the season.
F1 has not seen two such aggressive drivers as the young Dutchman and the Aussie on the same team for a long time and this is the first time we will see that combination in Australia.
We’re happy to be on the Red Bull boys to make their presence felt, especially with the likelihood we could have a wet race.
Suggested Bet: A Red Bull driver to win the race at $5.20
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