Ferrari are the favorites to secure victory as the 2019 Formula One season gets underway at this weekend’s Australian Grand Prix 2019 (12.10am ET Sunday).
Not only have the Italian team won in Melbourne in each of the last two years, but they also looked very strong in pre-season testing. The consensus amongst the paddock and on the evidence of the long-run breakdowns of various analysts is that Ferrari have the fastest car.
Last season, Ferrari finished closer to Mercedes than any team has been able to since the switch to the current engine regulations in 2014, but were still unable to best them in either championship. Mercedes won a fifth consecutive constructors’ championship, while Lewis Hamilton claimed his fourth drivers’ championship with the team and his fifth overall.
Hamilton again leads the betting with the offshore sports gambling websites to claim this year’s drivers’ honours, but Mercedes do appear to be playing catch up to Ferrari coming into the new campaign. Things will change during the year as the development race intensifies. In 2018 Mercedes only won three of the first 10 races, but eight of the last 11, but right now Ferrari look to have the edge.
That makes Sebastian Vettel the most likely winner of the season-opener. He has won each of the last two Australian Grand Prix. He always runs well in Melbourne, having finished on the podium in each of his last seven finishes there. With a hot young charger now alongside him in the form of Charles LeClerc, Vettel will be keen to assert his authority within the team quickly. He can be fancied to do just that by taking victory this weekend.
While it is always difficult to gauge the extent to which teams are sandbagging or running different programs during pre-season testing, the available long-run data suggests that the midfield battle could be extremely tight this year. Alfa Romeo (last year’s Sauber team), Haas, McLaren and Renault all produced impressive runs at one point or another, to the degree to which they may even find themselves closer to Red Bull, last year’s third-best team.
Renault finished at the head of that pack last year to claim fourth in the constructors’ championship. With another year of solid investment behind them, engine improvements and a race-winning driver now on their books in the form of ex-Red Bull man Daniel Ricciardo, there seems to be optimism within the team that they can perhaps take a step forward and challenge for a podium or two this time around.
Ricciardo has never had a great deal of luck in terms of fighting at the very front at his home Grand Prix, but he has nevertheless finished in the top six in Australia in three of the last four years. Likewise, his new teammate Nico Hulkenberg has finished in the top seven of four of the last five, including a seventh place finish last year as half of one of Renault’s seven double-points finishes over the course of the season.
The team can be fancied to start 2019 with a similarly impressive performance on Sunday.
After a lowkey first test, McLaren really found their rhythm during the second, producing a series of runs that suggested they will be more competitive than they were last season. Then a promising start that yielded 40 points from the opening five races gave way to serious struggles thereafter. They only accumulated a further 22 points from the remaining 16 races.
With Fernando Alonso retired, for now at least, from Formula One action, and Stoffel Vandoorne cast aside, McLaren have an all new driver lineup for 2019. The steady Carlos Sainz, fairly significantly outscored by Hulkenberg at Renault last year, is joined by teenage rookie Lando Norris, the runner up in last year’s Formula 2 championship.
Whether that pairing is strong enough to get the most out of what does appear to be an improved package over the full course of the season remains to be seen, but in Australia, at least, Sainz has proved himself to be very able performer. He has finished in the points in all four of his previous appearances in Melbourne and has a good chance of doing so once more on Sunday.
Our Preview’s F1 Australian Grand Prix Predictions & Picks Verdict
- The first of our F1 Australian GP predictions is to bet on Sebastian Vettel to win the race @ +185 with BetOnline.
- The next of the picks is to bet on Renault for “both team drivers to finish in top 10” (also known as a double points finish) @ +135 with Bovada.
- Back Carlos Sainz for a “top 10 finish” (ie: to finish in the points) @ +110 with Bovada.