The first race of 2013 is in the books and was won by Kimi Raikkonen and Lotus. But did it tell us anything else that could help us pick winning bets for this weekend’s Malaysian Grand Prix?
What did we learn from Australia?
The first thing to remember about the season-opener in Australia is that the Albert Park circuit is unlike most of those found on the F1 calendar: It’s a temporary venue with a fairly low-grip surface and virtually no high-speed corners.
But the Sepang International Circuit, scene of this weekend’s race, is a more typical Formula One track. The permanent facility has longer straights than Albert Park, a surface that’s tough on tyres and several high-speed corners.
So a car that goes well in Australia will not necessarily perform as well in Malaysia. On top of that the two sessions that usually tell us most about the raw performance of the cars – final practice and qualifying – were both rain-affected last weekend. The rain was so bad during qualifying it had to be postponed until the following day – only the third time this has ever happened in F1.
It’s clear Red Bull have produced another car which is quick over a single lap and gets its tyres up to temperature rapidly – qualifying and the two Friday practice sessions made that clear.
But the race showed that the team who can manage their tyres best throughout a race wields ultimate power. On this occasion it was Lotus, and though that is likely to be the case again this weekend, their rivals are not far behind.
Malaysian Grand Prix betting
Raikkonen may have been first to the chequered flag down under but Sebastian Vettel remains favourite to win this weekend’s race. He’s at 2.75 to repeat his wins of 2010 and 2011. Raikkonen, who scored his maiden win here ten years ago and repeated it in 2008, is at 4.0.
Fernando Alonso doesn’t offer great odds at 4.5 but it’s a decent return on a driver who’s won three times before in Malaysia and clearly has a more competitive car this year. He was second in Australia and would have been closer to Raikkonen had he not made one of his pit stops slightly early, compromising his strategy.
A better value but somewhat riskier tip is Lewis Hamilton. He’s not won in Malaysia before but Mercedes were ‘best of the rest’ behind Red Bull in qualifying last week.
The W04 had the highest top speed in Australia, which will be especially useful this weekend. Both Mercedes drivers looked strong in wet conditions, which usually play a role in proceedings at Sepang. Hamilton is on 9.0 to take pole position and 12.0 to score his first Malaysian Grand Prix win.
Felipe Massa is a name which did not appear very often in this column last year. He had a poor car and wasn’t driving it well. Both those things have changed now but the odds have been slow to reflect that - which makes him a very interesting choice for this weekend.
In Australia he out-qualified Fernando Alonso for the third race in a row and raced ahead of him until Alonso took a strategic gamble which paid off. Massa’s odds to win in Malaysia are an enticing 22.0.
While some might argue Ferrari would intervene to stop Massa taking points off Alonso even at this early stage in the championship, history shows that isn’t necessarily the case. Massa led Michael Schumacher home at this track on his second start for Ferrari when they were team mates in 2006.
Bet now on the Malaysian Grand Prix
Keith Collantine is the editor of Formula One blog F1 Fanatic