The 2018 Formula 1 season gets underway at its traditional starting point of Melbourne, Australia this Sunday. This season will consist of 21 races concluding on December 1st in Abu Dhabi. The 2019 calendar almost mirrors that of 2018 with no new circuits only date/order changes.
Fundamentally there is little change to the cars that raced in 2018. There’s wider higher and simpler front wings, cars can carry a bit more petrol and weigh a bit more too. Ultimately we cannot expect any serious changes to the pecking order that has been unchanged since 2017.
Winter testing took place in Barcelona starting at the end of February and, as usual, it is foolish to read to take the timesheets too seriously. They are notoriously misleading. But last season Lewis Hamilton stated the Ferrari was a faster car than his going into the curtain raiser – he was right – and he has been making the same noises this year.
Ultimately it has been Mercedes and Ferrari that have ruled the F1 roost in recent seasons. These manufacturers, who have massive budgets, have really put the squeeze on their rivals in recent times, many of which use their engines. There is no good reason to expect a turnaround in fortunes at the top of the grid and with Mercedes Lewis Hamilton being 11/8 for the Driver’s Championship and Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel priced at 2/1, bookmakers clearly see things the same.
More immediately, who is going to win the Australian Grand Prix? Unfortunately it is impossible to look beyond ‘the big two’. Just consider no car other than a Mercedes or Ferrari has finished in a podium finish here in the past four seasons.
Since 2011 the Vettel’s form-figures in this race read: 1-2-3-Ret-3-3-1-1
Hamilton’s profile is similar, marginally less impressive: 2-3-5-Ret-1-2-2-2
But Hamilton has started on pole here for the past five years. He’s clearly quick in a car that is stripped-out for qualifying but the race-trim Ferrari has been quicker over a full race distance.
Back Hamilton for Pole at 2/1 (Paddy Power) and then back Vettel for the race win, post qualifying, when he should be a bigger price than his current 15/8.