Britain’s Lewis Hamilton has been tipped to take advantage of Red Bull’s pre-season problems and end Sebastian Vettel’s reign as F1 champion.
The Mercedes man has finished pre-season in Bahrain as the fastest man on the final day of testing and with Vettel happy just to stay out on the track, it is the Brit who heads Down Under for the season opener as the most confident driver.
Hamilton is the 9/4 favourite to reclaim the title he last won in 2008 and a victory in Australia – a feat priced at 5/2 – would give the Silver Arrows ace the perfect start.
The former McLaren driver’s best was just 0.06 seconds off the fastest time of the winter schedule and with Williams’ new man Felipe Massa setting that time, he should not be ignored as a 14/1 shot in Melbourne.
Massa’s team mate Valtteri Bottas was the second fastest round Bahrain on Sunday and with the Mercedes-powered team among the front runners, the 10/11 on both drivers to finish among the points looks a sure thing.
Vettel has had a torrid pre-season and finds himself in unfamiliar territory for the curtain raiser as the 10/1 fifth favourite to take the chequered flag.
However, the German remains 7/2 second favourite to retain his crown and become only the second man to land five consecutive championship titles.
And, despite being tipped to take the crown this year, Hamilton expects Red Bull and Vettel in particular to challenge on all fronts.
“They look like they have a stunning car and usually the more beautiful it is, the faster it is,” he said.
“So I’m sure they’ve got a pretty quick car. Once they get the engine sorted, or the systems they might be struggling with, they’ll be very hard to beat.”
With less than two weeks remaining until the new F1 season starts, however, time is running out for the reigning champion to close the gap on the British hope.
All Odds and Markets are correct as of the date of publishing.
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