Wednesday, 21 March 2018

Australian GP Betting Preview - Early birds

You know what they say about the early bird. It applies to F1 betting. As this point before the season actually starts is unique; only now do none of us really know who among the season's cars and drivers is actually quick and not quick when it matters. And this gives opportunities.

There are opportunities for the F1
gambler prior to the first race
Photo: Octane Photography
The pre-season testing consensus was that the 'big three' of Mercedes, Ferrari and Red Bull are close, more so than we've got used to. But equally there was a sense from testing that Merc remains out front. Plus in this hybrid era there's been little money to be made from backing anyone else - four championship doubles from four; 63 race wins from 79...

Lewis Hamilton therefore is the unimaginative bet for 2018 but also likely the safest one, and you can near enough double your money on a Hamilton title by backing him at 5/6.

Nevertheless if Red Bull is indeed starting a season strongly for once then the 8/1 available for Max Verstappen to win this year's championship looks pretty good medium range value.

Similar considerations apply to the constructors' title and Mercedes's odds for the 2018 championship are even shorter than Lewis's, at 1/2. But with the factors already mentioned, and that Red Bull by consensus has the strongest driver pairing on the grid (as opposed to Merc and Ferrari's clear effective number one/number two arrangement), then again 19/5 on a Bull constructors' title looks pretty tempting as a longer range punt.

As for this weekend's season-opener at Melbourne, Lewis has similar unimaginative but safest status for getting pole position. He has taken six poles in total at this track, including bagging the last four. He can be backed at 4/5 to get this latest one which again is good value.

Then again forecasts at the time of writing have rain (and thunder) around for qualifying, and this variable opens up opportunities for the gambler. We know that Red Bulls are good in the wet and Verstappen especially so, and at 12/1 to take pole he again looks a tempting bet. His team-mate Daniel Ricciardo is even longer at 16/1 - though given his luck at home you may want to keep your money elsewhere.

Will we get a close battle between the 'big three' in 2018?
Photo: Octane Photography
As for very long shots, Nico Hulkenberg always shows up well in wet-to-dry qualifying sessions and can be got at a whole 300/1 for pole.

Then again, we know Lewis is exceptional in the wet too, has won the last however many wet F1 races and creamed last year's wet qualifying at Monza. So maybe our considerations come full circle.

As for the race, as things stand that should remain dry but there may be other sources of variation. Races at this Albert Park track often are madcap, with lots of safety car interruptions and a high attrition rate. This may in part explain why Lewis has only converted two of his Melbourne poles to wins, and the polesitter has only won two of the last eight Grands Prix here.

Indeed in the last two visits the guy starting second has won, and you can get a full 9/4 on that happening again this time.

Lewis remains though rightful favourite to win, and can be backed to do so at 11/10. But Sebastian Vettel at 19/5 and particularly Verstappen at 6/1 to win look reasonable punts given everything. At the very least evens for Verstappen to get on the podium is tempting.

Another apparent learning from pre-season is that this year's Haas is quick and the odds haven't entirely caught up on the matter it seems. Romain Grosjean and Kevin Magnussen can either be backed at 6/1 to finish in the top six this weekend, and 10/11 to finish in a top 10 scoring position. You may be tempted by the 2/1 available for both to score.

With the likely high attrition rate - only 13 finished here last year - it may also be worth backing unusual people to score. Either Toro Rosso driver can be backed at 13/2, either Sauber at 15/2 and Williams debutant Sergey Sirotkin at 5/1.

All odds quoted in this article were accurate on the Oddschecker website at 2130 GMT on Wednesday 21 March 2018.

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