The chequered flag drops on 2019 Formula 1 season on Sunday as the Australian Grand Prix gets underway from Albert Park.
The 58-lap race is headlined by three-time winner Sebastian Vettel, who opens as the short-priced favourite ahead of teammate Charles Leclerc and last year’s world champ, Lewis Hamilton. In past year’s this race has felt like a foregone conclusion, but there’s distinct optimism surrounding this years running following Daniel Ricciardo’s switch from Red Bull to Renault.
As we prepare for what is sure to be a fast-paced season, can an Aussie finally find themselves up on the podium? We’ve previewed everything you need to know ahead of Sunday’s race, and our complete 2019 Australian Grand Prix Preview can be found below.
2019 Australian Grand Prix Best Bet
Sebastian Vettel – $2.75
Favourites have typically done well on the Albert Park track. The tight turns and narrow corners leave little room for maneuvering, and as we saw last year during Vettel’s five-second win, if you can establish a lead and keep the car clean, you’re almost home and hosed.
There’s plenty of other reasons to trust Ferrari, though. Vettel seems to cope with the lines and the bumps of Melbourne extremely well, while a fourth win on Sunday would tie him with Lex Davison and Michael Schumacher on the all-time list of Australian Grand Prix wins.
Speaking of wins, one more for Ferrari would make them the all-time leader ahead of Mercedes this weekend. The team has to feel confident following an impressive preseason in Barcelona, but for Vettel personally, he also needs to live up to expectations. There’s the ever-growing pressure of Hamilton, but also new teammate Charles Leclerc, who poses a serious winning threat of his own.
You can’t deny Vettel’s success on this track, however. Hamilton has been a genius during qualifying claiming six pole positions, but it’s meant nothing considering Vettel has won the last two Grand Prix’s. With a car that looks to be the best on track, the four-time World Champ should get the job done.
2019 Australian Grand Prix Podium Finish
Max Verstappen – $1.91
Daniel Ricciardo, like every other Aussie, failed to crack the podium in Melbourne with Red Bull. He did, however, find some success at Albert Park last year recording the fastest lap, and despite so many car troubles, it wouldn’t be surprising to see Verstappen somewhere on the podium on Sunday.
The Dutchman finished sixth in Australia last year, but managed to crack the podium on 11 occasions as well as winning both the Austrian and the Mexico Grand Prix. Verstappen’s best result in Melbourne was fifth back in 2017, but after qualifying inside the Top 5 in 15 of 21 races last year, he should be somewhere close to the finish.
2019 Australian Grand Prix Fastest Lap
Charles Leclerc – $4.00
This could turn out to be a bit of a value play. Leclerc should enter Sunday’s race with a bit of a chip on his shoulder following last year’s disappointment in qualifying, which was consequentially backed up by an even uglier 13th place finish with team Sauber. A year on, Leclerc finds himself with Ferrari, and by all accounts, he’s ready to throw a spanner in the World Championship mix.
Leclerc is the youngest Ferrari driver in over half a century, and although he has little experience with the Melbourne track, he did finish 2018 strongly with three-straight seventh-place finished.