After two exciting races to start the 2022 Formula 1 season, the circus returns down under for the first Australian Grand Prix since 2019. After two straight years of the race being cancelled due to Covid, it is fantastic to have Australia back on the calendar.
So far in 2022 we have seen two different constructors on pole position, and two different constructors winning races. It’s fair to say, at this point in the season anyway, that the fight for race victories is between the Ferrari and the Red Bull. The markets unfortunately reflect this; however, we will dive into the race and try and find some winners.
Be sure to check out the site before every Grand Prix during season 2022, as we will have a preview of every Grand Prix, analyse the betting markets, and look to give everyone some winning Formula 1 bets!
Albert Park Circuit, Melbourne, Sunday 10th April
The Saudi Arabian Grand Prix started off just as the Bahrain Grand Prix had ended, with Charles Leclerc topping the time sheets late in FP1, pipping Max Verstappen to the top spot. Alfa Romeo continued their fine form to start the season, with Valteri Bottas setting the 3rd fastest time. Our bet of Kevin Magnusson fastest in FP1 was over before it started, with the Dane unable to set a lap time with a hydraulic issue. FP2 and FP3 were more of the same, with Leclerc topping both sessions, ahead to Verstappen.
All eyes were on the Championship protagonists Leclerc and Verstappen heading into qualifying, but it was Carlos Sainz who looked the goods early, setting the fastest time in both Q1 and Q2, to have our Sainz Pole Position ($7) bet looking juicy. Unfortunately for our bet, Sainz couldn’t get it done in Q3, and it was Red Bull’s Sergio Perez who took his maiden Formula 1 Pole Position, ahead of Leclerc, Sainz and Verstappen. The other talking point out of qualifying was Lewis Hamilton failing to get out of Q1, qualifying 16th.
Our best bet Sainz got a good start and should have snuck into second, but his teammate Leclerc ran him wide and Sainz eventually dropped to 4th. Perez led from Pole and looked solid in his opening stint, keeping a nice gap back to Leclerc and Verstappen. Our double top 10 finish for Alpine was looking super early, with Ocon and Alonso battling for 6th and 7th.
After 15 laps Perez pitted, with the other 3 top guys staying out. This was to the detriment of Perez, with Nicholas Latifi crashing out of the final corner, which triggered a safety car. This allowed Leclerc, Verstappen and Sainz to pit, all coming out ahead of Perez. Once the safety car came back in, Leclerc and Verstappen put their heads down and pulled away from Sainz and Perez. Meanwhile, Lewis Hamilton was having a great race, up to 6th not long after the safety car and our Mercedes double top 6 looked ok.
Then our bets got smashed. First, Alonso’s car broke down, as did Ricciardo’s in the pit lane entry, which triggered a virtual safety car. This led to Hamilton not being able to pit and ruining his race. This left 10 laps for a Leclerc vs Verstappen duel. And what a duel it was. Like Bahrain, there were multiple overtakes over multiple laps. This time however, Verstappen got his revenge, overtaking Leclerc for the final time on lap 47 and leading the rest of the way. 1 all in this gripping battle.
With no races here for two years, history at the track is not particularly relevant in terms of what cars are quick in Australia. Added to this, the track has been radically changed since last time out at Albert Park. The changes have occurred to increase overtaking, and the average speed of the cars throughout the lap should be much higher, with several corners widened to assist overtaking.
The track itself was recognised as a medium-high downforce track, with slow to medium speed turns and chicanes dominating the course. However, with the changes made, there is a mix of high-speed corners and long straights that could change this to a more medium downforce track.
Despite this, this track still sets up similarly to Bahrain. Traction is paramount and speed through low and medium speed corners will be pivotal. In both these areas, Ferrari have had the edge over the Red Bull. Where the Red Bull will be extremely competitive is through the middle sector. It is because of this I see the Ferrari having the advantage in qualifying. Ferrari will be desperate to lock out the front row of the grid, as they would love a race where Leclerc can establish a lead and have Sainz as his rear gunner, making life difficult for the chasing Red Bulls.
In terms of race pace, Red Bull once again will be good enough to make passes on the Ferrari if it can get into position. If they can stay close enough to the Ferrari through the first sector, particularly turns 3 to 6, then they will surely have the speed down the straight to be able to overtake into the new turn 11. Once again, this is the reason Ferrari will be desperate to lock out the front row.
Ultimately, there are two cars who can win this race and we’ve got to decide which horse we hitch ourselves too for outright selections. Ferrari, or Red Bull. I really like the Ferrari in one lap pace and will trust Sainz to get the job done to lock out the front row. Leclerc to win from Max or Sainz for mine.
After the top 4, Mercedes will have the race pace to more than likely finish 5-6, save for any reliability or safety car issues. There is a report that Mercedes have brought updates for this weekend, however with so little time I do not believe it will be enough to catch the front 4.
After Mercedes it should be tight, with Haas, Alfa Romeo and Alpine my picks for the teams most likely to slot into 4th fastest car for the weekend. Once again, I expect the Mercedes powered cars to struggle, with Williams and Aston Martin towards the back.
Speaking of Aston Martin, Seb Vettel is back after missing the first 2 races of the year with Covid. Expect him to struggle in his first race in these new cars, so a Stroll to beat Vettel bet is a solid investment.
Despite not trusting the McLaren pace there are decent prices out there for the pair to overachieve, and given it is the Australian Grand Prix we have got to put something on our boy Danny Ric, right?
Whilst it appears a coin flip between Verstappen and Leclerc, I’m backing the boy in red to win in Australia this weekend. Red Bull have NEVER won the Australian Grand Prix, and whilst Verstappen can certainly be the man to change that, I believe the Ferrari will have the better one lap speed and hope they can lock out the front row on Saturday. And whilst I believe Leclerc will more than likely beat Sainz to pole, the odds for the Spaniard to take pole are absurd and must be attacked.
Carlos Sainz (Pole Position) - $11 at Betfair (1u)
Ferrari (Both teams to finish top 3) - $2.60 at Betfair (1.25u)
Valteri Bottas (Top 6 finish) - $3.30 at Betfair (1u)
Lando Norris (Top 10 finish) - $2.50 at Bet365 (1u)
Daniel Ricciardo (Top 10 finish) - $3.75 at Bet365 (1u)
Valteri Bottas (Fastest in FP1) - $130 at Betfair (0.25u)
Lance Stroll to finish ahead of Seb Vettel - $1.95 at NEDS (1u)
Charles LeClerc to win
$3.10 (2 Units)
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