Hamilton on pole for F1 opener, but Vettel is the value bet in Oz

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The first race of the new Formula One season is almost upon us. Lewis Hamilton starts on pole in Australia, but at 2/5 to win the race, the value lies elsewhere.

And principally, it lies with Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel at 10/3, who starts second.

The Scuderia posted scintillating times in pre-season testing, and though Mercedes again look strong, the Italian outfit are ready to pounce.

Among many new rules and regulations this year, changes have been made to ensure the driver is 100 per cent responsible for getting off the line at the start.

This was an area that caught Hamilton out time and time again last season, and should he flounder again in Melbourne, Vettel could steal a march.

That’s exactly what happened last season, where only a tactical error later in the race cost the four-time champion victory.

But even if Vettel doesn’t get the jump at the start, Hamilton’s quarter-of-a-second advantage shouldn’t be as strong in race conditions.

Behind the front two, Mercedes new boy Valtteri Bottas starts third, and plenty will be fancying the Finn for a first Grand Prix win, especially at 9/1.

The former Williams man could be worth an each-way punt, as could compatriot Kimi Raikkonen.

The 2007 world champion starts fourth, but with both Ferrari and Mercedes expected to cruise away from the rest of the pack, Raikkonen looks tempting at 16/1.

Behind them, Daniel Ricciardo’s crash in qualifying – leaving the Australian 10th – means he’s good value at 4/6 to come through the field and bag a top-six finish.

Similarly, Felipe Massa looks best of anyone who isn’t driving a Mercedes, Ferrari or Red Bull, and should any of those three teams slip up, the Brazilian is 10/11 to come home in first six.

But we can expect drama at some point, with the safety car required in each of the last three Australian events.

And with 20 wider cars heading down into turn one when the lights go out, our traders are fancying the SC to come out once again at 1/3.

But McLaren and Fernando Alonso fans look set to be disappointed once again, with the Woking outfit 7/2 favourites to be the first team to suffer the first retirement of the season.

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

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