F1 Betting: Hamilton, Vettel title odds and Australian GP
With just three-thousandths of a second splitting last year's title contenders as pre-season testing wrapped up in Barcelona last week, the scene is set for a titanic battle between F1's most famous names throughout 2019. We take a look at what the odds are saying about the year to come.
The smart money has been going on pace-setters Ferrari, with Sebastian Vettel backed in from 4/1 to a current best price of 2/1 with Sky Bet to take his elusive first world title with the Scuderia.
Vettel is the 2/1 favourite to hit the ground running with a victory in the season-opening Australian Grand Prix, a race he won against the odds last year after a strategy error by rivals Mercedes.
But it's Mercedes who are judged most likely to come out on top again at the end of the season to extend their record-equalling run of five consecutive drivers' and constructors' crowns. Reigning champion Lewis Hamilton is the 11/8 favourite to retain his title, and a 5/2 chance to win Down Under on 17th March at a track on which he always excels.
Vettel's team-mate Charles Leclerc has also attracted support both for the championship and for victory in Australia, with the Monegasque backed in from double-figure title odds late last year into as short as 4/1. He's also third favourite at just 5/2 to win on his Ferrari debut, having had his headline time eclipsed by Vettel by just 0.01 seconds around the Circuit de Catalunya.
Behind the three market leaders, Max Verstappen looks the most likely contender to spring a surprise. The Red Bull driver, who ended the 2018 season in style, is a 10/1 shot for the title with Betfair despite a low-key pre-season test in which he decided against using the softest compound tyre in Pirelli's range.
Verstappen pronounced himself content with the eight days of preparation but only Racing Point and Force India accrued less total mileage than Red Bull and the Dutchman is 9/1 to taste the champagne at Albert Park next Sunday.
Pierre Gasly, the second Red Bull driver, endured a tough second week's testing as he looks to make his competitive debut for the Anglo-Austrian team. Gasly suffered two accidents in Barcelona and could only manage the 11th fastest headline time.
He's 50/1 to bounce back with victory in Melbourne and 66/1 to take the title.
Valtteri Bottas's odds sit between the two Red Bull drivers', at 14/1 to win the season-opener. With Mercedes reserve driver Esteban Ocon on the sidelines eyeing Bottas's seat the Finn will need a solid start to the campaign, but his title odds are a dismissive 25/1, having been around a third of that price 12 months ago.
Behind the big six, the pecking order looks extremely tight - just 0.396 seconds separated the fastest drivers of the next five teams. Renault are generally thought to have a small edge over the rest of the field, and with their works status and budget advantage, they are justifiably favourites to win the ante-post "best of the rest" competition behind Mercedes, Ferrari and Red Bull.
Ladbrokes and Sky Bet have priced up this market, for which big-money signing Daniel Ricciardo shares 3/1 favouritism with team-mate Nico Hulkenberg, who took the honours for the French marque last season.
McLaren's new signing Carlos Sainz is available at 10/1, with debutant Lando Norris twice that price in the sister car. Sergio Perez, who finished closest to Hulkenberg in the market last year, is 10/1 to go one better for Racing Point; team-mate Lance Stroll is 25/1.
Toro Rosso proved sporadically impressive in testing and their drivers might be worth an each-way bet at 25/1 for Alexander Albon and 33/1 for the returning Daniil Kvyat, while Alfa Romeo rookie Antonio Giovinazzi is 40/1.
The two Williams drivers, Robert Kubica and George Russell, have been written off as 150/1 shots after their testing woes - the pair completed only 567 laps between them and face an uphill struggle to be competitive in Australia.
GPFans is a multi-platform, multi-language brand dedicated to Formula One coverage. We bring you all the ins and outs of the sport, 24/7, everything from up-to-the-minute news and features to the latest viral stories and clips.
We believe that a new generation of exciting, outspoken drivers will make F1 more popular than ever before, and we want to give our users access to as much of their heroes as possible, on and off the track. From Lewis Hamilton to Max Verstappen, Daniel Ricciardo to Sebastian Vettel, we provide in-depth analysis of every every Grand Prix in the season, from Australia to Abu Dhabi.
With Formula One under the new ownership of Liberty Media, how the sport is being covered is evolving, and GPFans will look to be at the heart of this progression into new media, as one of the fastest-growing sites covering the king of motorsports.