Malaysian Grand Prix Betting: Technical Issues Threaten Mercedes

It's often case in Formula One that the first race of the season asks more questions than it answers. So it was with the Australian Grand Prix two weeks ago.


On the face of it, Nico Rosberg took his Mercedes for a cruise around Albert Park in Melbourne and at the end of it he collected 25 points and the championship lead. That was pretty much what testing had led us to expect: Mercedes appeared to have an advantage of as much as a second per lap.


But there was rather more going on and several interesting points to note for those looking for a good bet for this weekend's race in Malaysia.



Reliability an issue for Mercedes

The Mercedes of Lewis Hamilton, which started the race from pole position, was out within two laps in Melbourne. He was a victim of the demanding new engine regulations which give drivers just five of their fearsomely complicated V6 turbo hybrids per seasons.


Mercedes may have an abundance of performance but they are a long way from being able to take their car's reliability for granted. Hamilton's car also broke down during the first practice session. So while they are clear favourites to win this weekend - Hamilton on 2.50 for victory, Rosberg 2.75 - it's not hard to imagine how a win might slip through their grasp.


Their rivals offer highly rewarding odds at the moment. Sebastian Vettel is third favourite on 12.00, but Red Bull are one of the hardest teams to get a read on in terms of form at the moment.


While Vettel suffered persistent technical problems during the weekend, new team mate Daniel Ricciardo did a sterling job to plant his RB10 on the front row and finish second. But he was disqualified after the race when it was found his car had repeatedly exceeded the 100kg/hour maximum fuel flow rate.


Did Red Bull owe their sudden resurgence entirely to the performance gained through breaking the rules? Of course they will have benefited from it, but the car also appeared to have good balance and plenty of grip. Cooling had been their big problem during the winter, but they seemed to have a handle on in Australia, allowing the car's qualities to shine through in a way they hadn't in testing. Whether they can do so again in the heat of Malaysia remains to be seen.



Will McLaren and Ferrari go the distance?


McLaren head into this weekend with an early lead in the constructors' championship and confident that they can quickly find more performance from the MP4-29. Both Jenson Button and impressive newcomer Kevin Magnussen are priced at 15.00 to win after their podium scores in Australia.


Both of Ferrari's drivers were delayed by electronic problems and found their cars lacking top speed - a problem which could cost them dearly on Malaysia's long straight. Even so, Kimi Raikkonen's victory odds are surprisingly high at 30.00.



Time to back Williams


The team which probably realised the least of their potential in the first race of the year were Williams.


Although the FW36 represents a significant step forwards over last year's car its drivers found it didn't handle well in the wet conditions of qualifying, which left them well down the grid. Felipe Massa was then taken out at the first corner of the race, while Valtteri Bottas climbed from 15th to 5th despite clipping the wall on the way.


With a smoother weekend, Massa and Bottas should be podium contenders and first in line to capitalise on any problems for Mercedes. Both are priced at 3.00 for a top three result, with Massa offering odds of 12.00 to win and Bottas 15.00.


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

Bet on qualifying in Malaysia