The Formula One season kicks off at Albert Park this weekend as the world’s best drivers descend on the street circuit for the 2018 Australian Grand Prix.
All eyes will be on Red Bull star Daniel Ricciardo ($7.50) who is hoping to become the first local to end up on the podium in Melbourne on Sunday afternoon.
In the last 30 years a local driver has never won the race in Adelaide or Melbourne and Ricciardo’s best result is a fourth place two years ago.
Ricciardo is a genuine threat title threat to end Mercedes’ domination after a good round of testing with Red Bull’s new car.
Lewis Hamilton ($2.10) will be the man to beat, the reigning F1 World Champion will be looking to become the third man in history to win five F1 world titles and is the hot favourite to take the honours in the season opener.
Hamilton triumphed at Albert Park in 2018 and 2015 and will pass Ayrton Senna’s Australian record of six pole positions, if he can start from number one on the grid on Sunday.
Sebastian Vettel ($4.50) is looming as the driver most likely threat to Hamilton’s dominance. The Ferrari driver won the opening race in 2017 and will be gunning for his fifth driver’s championship this season.
If Riccardo pulls off the win, he’ll become the first man since Alan Jones in 1980 to win his home Grand Prix
Young gun Max Verstappen ($6.25) has emerged as one of the quickest drivers on the circuit and he is more than capable of building on his three podium finishes in 2017. Red Bull have moved quickly to tie down the youngster to the team for the long term and he’ll be putting some real pressure on Daniel Ricciardo’s long term future with Red Bull.
Mercedes driver Valtteri Bottas ($8) is looking to get on the podium in Melbourne and has made a strong case with some excellent times in testing.
Australian fans will be the first to experience a number of technical changes that could potentially level the playing field. The addition of the halo could take some getting used to, with drivers now offered more protection from debris flying off the track.
Dan Ricciardo will undoubtly be the crowd favourite on Sunday and with Red Bull posting some impressive times in pre-season testing, the Aussie driver will be looking to challenge the likes of Vettel and Hamilton for a podium finish.
Hamilton and Vettel remain the front-runners for line honours on Sunday in Melbourne, but if Red Bull can address the issues that plagued their vehicle in 2017, then they’ll be in the mix with Mercedes and Ferrari.
Tip: Lewis Hamilton to win the 2018 Australian Grand Prix ($2.10)