The circus that is the 2018 Formula 1 season is in Melbourne once again for the opening leg of the 21-race calendar. As usual, most of the local focus is on hometown hero (well, technically he’s from Perth) Daniel Ricciardo, who decided to remain with Red Bull Racing for another season. He and precocious – er, reckless? – teammate Max Verstappen will once again be challenging the top two superstars of F1, world champion Lewis Hamilton and former world champ Sebastian Vettel.
Here’s a look at the odds for winning the 2018 Australian Grand Prix – link to the market right here – with a reminder that odds might change.
Favourites & Contenders
$1.36 Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes
The King of Bling, Mr. Instagram himself is the favourite to win in Melbourne, after snaring pole position with a stunning drive. Coming off his third world championship in four years, the Mercedes driver will be keen to win a fifth overall, which would tie him with the legendary Juan Manuel Fangio.
$6.00 Sebastian Vettel, Ferrari
Everyone’s favourite candidate for anger management counselling won in Melbourne last year and with a re-designed Ferrari (longer wheelbase) and a re-designed haircut, the four-time world champion should challenge Hamilton for the crown. Was out-qualified by teammate Kimi Raikkonen and will start from the second row.
$8.50 Max Verstappen, Red Bull
There’s no doubt the Red Bulls will be fast, but will they be reliable? And will Verstappen’s ‘get the hell out of my way’ racing strategy pay off or p*ss off? The Dutchman finished fifth in last year’s race and will start from fourth place on the grid this year.
$10 Kimi Raikkonen, Ferrari
The Iceman (the only Finnish sportsman in the world not nicknamed The Flying Finn) finished fourth in Melbourne last year and after a surprising second place finish in qualifying, ahead of teammate Vettel, he’s a threat to grab a spot on the podium.
$34 Daniel Ricciardo, Red Bull
The loveable Aussie who likes to drink from his shoe just can’t catch a break in Melbourne. He had a disastrous 2017 Australian Grand Prix, starting from Pit Lane and then failing to finish thanks to a faulty fuel cell. This year he’s been docked three places for a speeding infraction in qualifying and will start from eighth place.
$81 Valtteri Bottas, Mercedes
The Finn finnished (get it?) third last year in Melbourne, but had a big crash in qualifying and will have to fight hard to get back to the podium from 10th on the grid.
$91 Fernando Alonso, McLaren
The two-time world champion (2005, 2006) is back with what could be a much faster car, although reliability during testing was a huge issue. He finished just out of the top ten in qualifying, and will start the race in 11th.
$91 Romain Grosjean and Kevin Magnussen, Haas
Haas enters its third F1 season with credibility but not a hell of a lot of success, although Grosjean (7th) and Magnussen (6th) did better than expected in 2018 qualifying.
Long Long Shots
$201 Stoffel Vandoorne, McLaren
Finished 12th in qualifying, just behind Alonso.
$151 Nico Hulkenberg and Carlos Sainz, Renault
Finished eighth and ninth respectively and with Renault’s improved engine package, these two should be very competitive, at least with one another. By the way, ‘The Hulk’ may be the oddest nickname ever for an F1 driver, though at 1.84 metres he’s a veritable giant.
$201 Sergio Perez, Force India and $401 Esteban Ocon, Force India
The Force India budget is about the same as my monthly food budget, but the team remains competitive, with Perez finishing 13th in qualifying. He was seventh in Melbourne last year and Ocon – who was 15th in qualifying – was tenth. These two clashed a few times on the circuit, but apparently they’ve agreed to work together this year. Where have we heard that before?
The Longest Longshots That Have Ever Been Longshots
$401 Lance Stroll and $501 Sergey Sirotkin, Williams
Williams continues its slide down the Constructor’s ladder and we should be able to make more ‘Stroll around the circuit’ gags. The Canadian finished 14th in qualifying, while Sirotkin, who sounds like a Russian operative fixing elections via Facebook, will start from 19th place.
$501 Charles Leclerc and Marcus Ericsson, Sauber
Sauber has teamed with Alfa Romeo so we could see some improvement. Motorsport insiders like Leclerc a lot and rate him above Ericsson, although the Swede finished one spot ahead (17th) in qualifying.
$501 Brendon Hartley and Pierre Gasly, Toro Rosso
Gasly by name, gasly by nature. Sorry, bad joke. He’s actually a highly-regarded rookie, but will start from 20th on the grid. He’s also no relation to cartoon racer Dick Dastardly (see below). Hartley is a Kiwi who’s a two-time World Endurance champ who will start from 16th.