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Australian Grand Prix betting tips: Hamilton to roll back the years

Red Bull will be the bread of an F1 car sandwich at the start of the Australian Grand Prix after an unusual qualifying session at Albert Park.

Reigning world champion Max Verstappen justified odds of 2/5 to take pole position, but his Red Bull teammate Sergio Perez will start the race from the back after getting no further than the third corner of his first attempt at a qualifying lap. 

Verstappen came through the field from 15th to finish second to Perez in Saudi Arabia last time, but the odds are against the Mexican replicating that feat in Melbourne.

Podium finish

Lewis Hamilton @ 6/5

Points finish

Alex Albon @ 1/1

Both cars points finish

Alpine @ 11/10
Williams @ 9/1 

Legends rolling back the years

Sixteen years ago, Lewis Hamilton lined up fourth on the grid for his Formula 1 debut at the Australian Grand Prix with his then-McLaren team-mate, two-time world champion Fernando Alonso directly ahead in second. 

They ended up sharing the podium that day behind race winner Kimi Raikkonen, and both will be aiming to spray the champagne again after Sunday's race. 

A lot of water has gone under the bridge since then, but Alonso's move to Aston Martin has propelled him back to the sharp end of the grid, while Hamilton will be feeling a lot better than he did after the first race of the season with Mercedes having seemingly found significant gains. 

The idea that Hamilton could battle Verstappen for the win in Melbourne looks far-fetched, but the prospect of the grid's two most experienced racers going head-to-head for a top-three finish is very real. 

Perez's qualifying mishap combined with a lacklustre showing from Ferrari has left the Mercedes cars of George Russell and Hamilton starting second and third, with Alonso right behind them in fourth. 

The Spaniard felt he didn't produce his best in qualifying, and the Aston's race pace has been impressive in the first two races. He even overtook both Mercedes cars on his way to third place in Bahrain last month. 

Conditions in a chilly and breezy Melbourne could play more to the Silver Arrows, though, who also seem to have improved their machine quickly in the early part of the season. 

Hamilton finished fifth in both the first two races and he looks a fair bet at the prices for a first podium of the year.

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Albon can add to Williams' tally

Alex Albon scored a surprise championship point for Williams in the season-opener in Bahrain, and the young Thai-British driver was one of the stars of qualifying. 

The former Red Bull racer was well within the top 10 throughout proceedings and there was no fluke at all about his eighth-place grid position. Indeed, Albon was quickest of all through the fast middle sector of the lap, where his car's lack of downforce proved a help rather than a hindrance. 

Albon was in the hunt for more points in Saudi last time out before a brake failure ended his race and it would be no surprise if he can at least maintain his starting position in Melbourne.

Alpines could climb up the order

Few drivers were left more frustrated after qualifying than Esteban Ocon, who missed out on a place in the top-10 shootout after encountering traffic on his fastest lap. 

The Frenchman should be comfortably faster than the lower half of the grid in the race, save for Perez, and he can concentrate on making up ground rather than defending. 

His team-mate Pierre Gasly has finished ninth in both the first two races and starts in that position in Australia, and the odds-against for both bright pink Alpines to end up in the points looks generous. 

A more speculative bet in the same market is on the Williams cars. Albon's chances have already been highlighted, while American rookie Logan Sargent has made a better start to his F1 career than his results suggest. 

Sargent was a fine 12th on his debut in Bahrain and was in contention for a points finish last time out in Saudi before dropping through the field late on as his tyres ran out of life. 

That came after he started last on the grid, suggesting the Williams is stronger in race trim, and it will be interesting to see what the Floridian can do from 18th on the grid.

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