For the first time in a number of years, pre-season hopes turned into reality in Australia as Ferrari took the fight to Mercedes and Sebastian Vettel secured victory in Melbourne.
While Vettel’s win bodes well for anyone who followed my pre-season tip of Kimi Raikkonen standing on the top step again this year, the opening race suggestions all fell just short.
Undeterred, I’ve picked out three more markets worth a look ahead of the second race in China this weekend.
Valtteri Bottas to set fastest qualifying time @ 9/2
OK, picking a Mercedes driver for pole sounds like a safe bet, but Bottas is definitely the better money and the signs in Australia were good.
The Finn has traditionally struggled over one lap in Melbourne, so getting within 0.3s of new team-mate Lewis Hamilton in his first qualifying session was a strong performance.
China is a circuit where Bottas is a little more comfortable and an expected dry qualifying is likely to leave Mercedes as favourite on Saturday. He’s yet to be on pole, but already looks comfortable with his new team.
The race to start behind the safety car @ 6/4
The weather forecast is pretty grim for the weekend – especially Sunday, and China has had some very wet race weekends in the past.
New regulations mean wet races that start behind the safety car will then re-start from the grid (rather than a rolling start as in the past) once the track is good enough.
That new rule is likely to see race director Charlie Whiting more willing to start behind the safety car if the expected rain hits on Sunday, so worth a flutter.
Fernando Alonso to score a point @ 6/4
Alonso ultimately failed to finish in Australia despite running tenth for a long period, and McLaren-Honda is expecting to be less competitive in China, but the weather forecast plays into the team’s hands.
The chassis is clearly good, and wet conditions can act as a leveller between the cars and drivers, with Alonso often excelling in recent years given a chaotic race.
And if you’re feeling brave – Alonso to make the top six is 7/1.
All Odds and Markets are correct as of the date of publishing