Austrian Grand Prix: Mercedes Favourites For One-Two Finish

Ferrari's practice pace is one reason to bet against Mercedes

This weekend Formula One returns to a circuit that last held a round of the world championship over a decade ago. The Red Bull Ring, which was previously named the A1-Ring and before that the Osterreichring, plays host to the Austrian Grand Prix.

As its new name suggests it is a home race for Red Bull who, although they are based in Milton Keynes, are owned by Austrian billionaire Dietrich Mateschitz. The team head to the round riding high after breaking Mercedes' stranglehold on victory in Canada.

Of course that does not make them automatic favourites to win again this weekend - far from it. In fact the long straights and short corners that make up much of the track could hardly be better designed to work against the Red Bull RB10.

But as the last race showed you can't take anything for granted. A routine Mercedes one-two was on the cards until identical failures struck both cars just after half-distance. That opened the door for Red Bull.

Could disaster strike Mercedes again? There are still 12 races to go in 2014 and if you believe they could be beaten again, here are a few betting options for you to consider. Williams are priced at 5.00 to win at least one race during the season, which is an attractive offer considering the pace they demonstrated (but failed to capitalise on) in Canada. Rookie Kevin Magnussen, who placed second in his first race in Australia, is on 9.00.

But inevitably the favourites for victory this weekend are Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg. The latter has slightly longer odds than his team mate, despite having qualified ahead and scored more points in the last races. Hamilton is on 1.65 for pole position and victory, Rosberg 2.40 for pole and 2.45 to win.

It's a fair reflection of how well Daniel Ricciardo is driving in his first season in a top car alongside reigning champion Sebastian Vettel that he has the next-shortest odds on victory. The Canadian Grand Prix winner is priced at 12.00 to repeat his win this weekend, but it's hard to see how he could do it without Mercedes falling prey to a repeat of their Montreal gremlins. Vettel, who is on 18.00 to win, seems to be gradually coming to terms with the handling of the team's latest creation.

Canada was a bad race for Ferrari's legions of devoted fans. Much was expected from the latest developments for their F14 T, but at the chequered flag their drivers were sixth and tenth - this on a day when two cars ahead of them crashed out on the final lap and one of the Mercedes didn't reach the finish. They can expect another tough weekend against their Mercedes-powered rivals this weekend. The odds on either of their drivers winning in Austria have shot up to 34.00 for Fernando Alonso and 76.00 for Kimi Raikkonen. 

However there is one session where it might just be worth putting your money on a Ferrari. Only two drivers have headed the first practice period of each race weekend so far this year: Hamilton and Alonso. Ferrari seem to run lighter fuel loads at the beginning of the weekend and Alonso was quickest in this session in Australia, China and Canada. He's on 6.50 to do so again in Austria, and that's about the best odds you'll find on anything that has a realistic chance of beating a Mercedes, even if it is in a non-competitive session.

Keith Collantine is the editor of Formula One blog F1 Fanatic.

Bet on the Austrian Grand Prix now.