Health-check for Constructors on the eve of Melbourne Grand Prix

Photo by Mercedes-AMG Petronas Motorsport, Australian GP 2018. Valtteri Bottas  After all the posturing and speculation, the new Formula One season will get underway this weekend with the Melbourne Grand Prix.

As ever, fans are scrutinising the chatter coming out of testing, trying to decide whether their favourite driver’s car is truly ready for the season.

Unsurprisingly, Mercedes have been sounding confident about the new season ahead. Last year, the car – using the M08 EQ Power+ unit – struck the right balance between speed, power and reliability. In fact, Mercedes’ driver Lewis Hamilton finished every race on his way to the Drivers’ Championship – he was the only driver to do so. They have been priced at 1/2 to win the Constructors’ Championship in 2018, with the MO9 model expected to emulate – and even outstrip – last year’s engine. Indeed, Technical Director James Allen said the 2018 model would “blow away” last year’s model. Hamilton is just 11/10 to win the Drivers’ Championship. All in all, it’s a scary prospect for Mercedes’ competitors.

Red Bull must get their drivers across the line to compete
In terms of reliability of a car, Red Bull the opposite of Mercedes last season. The team’s drivers, Max Verstappen and Daniel Ricciardo, failed to finish in a combined 13 races last season. That represents about a third of all races, which is not the kind of statistic that wins championships. The important news is that they have changed the car’s power unit from the Renault (branded Tag Heuer) to Honda for 2018. There are still some question marks over the performance of the car though, so their odds have increased on last year’s. You can back them 7/2 for the Constructors’ Championship.

Ferrari still have much to do to catch Mercedes
Things have suddenly gone a little bit quiet around the Ferrari team. Sebastian Vettel was Lewis Hamilton’s closest rival last year, but problems for Ferrari towards the back end of the season saw the British driver win with races to spare. Have they done enough to secure their first title in 10 years? It’s difficult to say. The current odds of 4/1 put them just behind Red Bull, but, as has been the case of the last few seasons, it seems Ferrari is forever stuck on the edge of getting right.

McLaren looking good at the start of the season
If anything, the most buzz at the start of the new season has centred around McLaren’s new car. In truth, the iconic McLaren brand has not been in good shape in F1 in recent years, with their drivers failing to secure even a top five finish last season. However, the switch to Renault-powered engines and the new MCL33 chassis bodes well for the team. They are 33/1 for the Championship and, while they might still be some way behind Mercedes, they are decent odds for an each/way bet considering the good feeling around the camp. Backing McLaren or anyone else for the new season? Check out these no deposit free bet offers to see if you can back your team without using your own money.

It would be a momentous shock If any other team apart from those mentioned above makes the top 4 in the standings. However, there has been good signs coming out of the Renault camp about the R.E 18 engine. Their odds range from around 300-1 to 80-1 depending on the bookmaker, but once again an each-way finish is the only viable option. For Sauber, Torro Rosso and the rest, it seems another tough season awaits.

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