Australian Grand Prix Betting: Champ Lewis Hamilton Returns As Favourite

Lewis Hamilton and Mercedes dominated the 2014 Formula One world championship and are favourites to do the same again this year.

Although pre-season testing is notoriously difficult to read, the three-pointed star's new W06 chassis looked to be the class of the field by far. As well as indicating a lap time advantage of as much as a second - roughly the same as last year - they completed more laps than any other team as well, indicating their reliability concerns may be a thing of the past.

That will make depressing reading for their rivals and those who were hoping the silver cars would have a bit more competition this year. But the fact of the matter is we don't really know how quick any of these cars are until the end of qualifying on Saturday, and we don't really know who can go the distance until the chequered flag falls on Sunday.


Choice odds on Ricciardo and Massa

Red Bull Racing Filming - Day Two : News Photo

With all the drivers having completed a total of zero racing laps so far this year, Hamilton is the favourite to win the championship at a price of 1.50. Nico Rosberg's odds are twice as long, and the next-closest is Daniel Ricciardo on 18.00.

These are reasonable odds for a driver who won three times last year. Red Bull may not have looked too hot in testing, but don't forget last year their pre-season preparations were borderline farcical, yet they turned up in Australia with the second-quickest car.

Unibet is offering separate odds on a 'drivers championship winner without Hamilton and Rosberg' which Ricciardo is joint favourite in along with last year's other breakthrough sensation, Valtteri Bottas. Whether Bottas enjoys as good a season this year as he did last year will depend a lot on whether the likes of Renault, who power Red Bull, and Ferrari, have closed the performance gap to Mercedes, whose engines are also used by Williams.

However the other Williams driver, Felipe Massa, offers considerably better odds at 11.00. Considering the fact he out-scored Bottas over the last seven races of 2014, and many of his lost points earlier in the season were attributable to accidents and car problems not of his own making, this could be a bet worth taking up.


Podium betting

Romain Grosjean Visits Caulfield Racecourse : News Photo

With the first two places likely to be taken up by the Mercedes cars, some of the best odds can be found on which drivers might take the third place on the podium. All the drivers mentioned so far are on odds of 3.50 or less, but there are some interesting long-odds options for those who fancy a punt.

After a desperate 2014 campaign, Lotus have switched to Mercedes power and look much better for it. Their E23 headed the times on more than one occasion during testing. Given that, it's something of a surprise to see just how long their odds are for a top-three finish this weekend. You can back Romain Grosjean at odds of 41.00.

That would be the preferred pick over team mate Pastor Maldonado at 51.00. Though undoubtedly quick, Maldonado's error-prone nature makes him too much of a liability even for a long shot like this. Three years ago he threw his car into the barriers on the last lap while running in sixth place.

The McLaren drivers also offer fairly long odds of 15.00 for Jenson Button and Kevin Magussen, the latter substituting for Fernando Alonso. Many expect the new Honda power unit to be a force later in the season, but its reliability is very suspect at this early stage.


Keith Collantine is the editor of Formula One blog F1 Fanatic