Reigning champion Lewis Hamilton has a good chance of beginning the new Formula One season with victory at this weekend’s Australian Grand Prix 2020 (Race: 12.10am ET Sunday).
Hamilton’s Mercedes team have dominated the hybrid era, winning all six drivers’ and constructors’ championships since 2014. They are again the favorites with the U.S. sports gambling firms to prevail in the final year of the current ruleset before major changes come into place for next season.
Pre-season testing suggested that status is deserved. Mercedes again looked to have the fastest package and the addition of a new steering system seemed to surprise their competitors. They certainly don’t seem to be letting up their development.
Red Bull and especially Ferrari appeared to be a step or two behind Mercedes. Aside from the Coronavirus, the main news story in the build up to the opening race has been the settlement reached between the FIA and Ferrari for an apparent, but seemingly unprovable, breach of the rules in relation to Ferrari’s engine fuel flow last season. The manner in which the case was handled has caused discord amongst the other teams.
Mercedes dominated last year’s Australian Grand Prix. Hamilton extended his run of consecutive pole positions in Melbourne to six by beating his teammate Valtteri Bottas, only for the Finnish driver to pip him to victory on race day.
Hamilton has now gone four years since the last of his two wins at Albert Park and the time feels right for that run to come to an end. He can again be fancied to qualify at the head of the pack and this time convert that into a season-opening win on Sunday.
The midfield battle is likely to be very competitive this season. Racing Point seemed to be at the head of that group in testing, but they don’t have an especially strong previous record in Australia. The odds on their drivers finishing in the points are far too short to be attractive. A top six finish also looks a bit short considering they have only once finished in the top six there in 12 previous attempts.
If Racing Point are on the pace, then Sergio Perez can certainly be fancied to secure good points. His teammate Lance Stroll wasn’t a reliable enough scorer last season to back the team even to get a double-points finish.
What could be a more attractive proposition is backing McLaren to do so. They had somewhat of a return to form last year, securing fourth in the constructors’ championship in their best performance since 2012. Carlos Sainz scored nearly double the number of points of his teammate Lando Norris, but the pair did secure seven double points finishes.
McLaren looked to have good race pace in testing and are likely the fifth-best behind the top three and Racing Point. If they can convert that into a similarly strong performance at the opening race then a double points finish could well be within reach.
The old Toro Rosso team is now known as Alpha Tauri, the name of a Red Bull-owned clothing brand. The new moniker could get some early recognition this weekend as the team have a solid chance of getting into the points on Sunday.
Alpha Tauri seemed to have pretty good pace in testing, somewhere around that of Renault and probably a shade quicker than Alfa Romeo and then Williams and Haas. The latter seemed to be really struggling.
With that in mind, Daniil Kvyat looks a decent pick to finish in the top 10. The team have had at least one driver in the points at Albert Park in nine of their 12 entries there. Kvyat has also finished in the top 10 on each of the three previous occasions he has started in Australia, including a 10th-place finish last year. The odds look attractive for Kvyat to again achieve a points finish on Sunday.
Our Preview’s F1 Australian Grand Prix Predictions & Betting Picks Verdict
Here are our Australian GP predictions and picks for this F1 preview: