Australian Grand Prix offers early hope for Button

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It’s no surprise given their respective performances throughout 2012 that Sebastian Vettel and Fernando Alonso head to the opening round of the new season as pre-race favourites to win in Melbourne.

The reigning champion is at 11/4 to kick off the new campaign with a win, while Ferrari’s Alonso is at 9/2, in light of the unpredictability that surrounds a new season offering particularly good prices.

The pair have each won at Albert Park before; Vettel in 2011 and Alonso in 2005, but at a venue that often sees changeable conditions, and a street circuit yielding little in grip, it’s a race that often plays into the hands of Jenson Button.

The Brit has won three times in Australia, more than any other driver on the grid. He dominated the race in 2012, taking the lead off the line and was never headed. At 5/1 the 2009 world champion could prove to be very good value, with his new McLaren MP4-28 appearing to be competitive in pre-season testing.

One team who raised more than a few eyebrows in the warm-up sessions in Spain were Mercedes, and though Lewis Hamilton has spent most of the winter playing down his chances with his new squad, odds of 8/1 are good for a man who many consider to be the fastest on the grid, and who won in Melbourne in 2008.

Those odds of 8/1 will quickly shorten if the Brit puts his car on pole, something which he is 9/2 to do. It’s a strong value for a driver who took more pole positions than anyone in 2012.

After taking a record-breaking 15 pole positions in 2011, Vettel had to make do with just six last year. The German is 11/4 to start Sunday’s race at the front, and with he and Hamilton cleaning up eight of the last 10 pole positions, it’s hard to look elsewhere at a venue where only once since 2008 has a driver other than Hamilton or Vettel started on pole.

All Odds and Markets are correct as of the date of publishing

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