This weekend marks the beginning of a very much delayed, and eagerly anticipated, 2020 F1 season.
The Austrian Grand Prix is the starting marker for all participants.
Paulo do Carmo writes that much has been said and bantered about, in the build up, with much of the public opinion divided between an all or nothing outcome for Lewis Hamilton and Mercedes this season.
With the season compressed, compliments of our new living partner, Covid19, the emphasis is going to be, not just on speed of cars but on their reliability, in addition to the mandatory driver skill – thus making the points aggregated by finishers 1st to 5th all the more important over the course of the short season.
Mercedes has been the predominant force of the last year, and earlier this year, prior to cancellation, were the leading light at the Australian Grand Prix.
However teams like Red Bull and the iconic Scuderia Ferrari have had ample time to adjust and tweak ahead of this weekends curtain call. They will be hoping and working towards what Aristotle called the “One fine day”.
Onto the drivers themselves, and the of late, extremely controversial Lewis Hamilton. As it turns out, Mr. Hamilton, the reigning world champion, is in full support of a Grand Prix to be held on African soil – and ASAP.
We can only support the idea, unlike some his other ones, with the big question being where? Nevertheless, whilst Lewis and his many multi-million dollar sponsors, work that one out, he is in fact the 6/10 favourite, not to win this weekend’s Grand Prix. where he is actually 13/10 to win it, but to win the ENTIRE F1 season and defend his world title.
A little tight for value, but he is the reigning world champion, the number one driver for the fastest team on the planet and he has been burning up the tracks in both test runs and qualifiers this year – a worthy favourite.
Is it that simple though? Earlier the mention of an all or nothing season, brings to the fore, that if Lewis Hamilton fails, then literally, it is up for grabs by anyone – a major upset on the cards?
As bet pricing goes, this could very well be the case. His team mate, Valterri Bottas is respected by the bookmakers, placing him as 3rd favourite at 9/2 – the proverbial lay of the championship is where we place him. His pricing is too short and despite the Mercedes number 2 being as good as most number ones, he is number two to Lewis for a reason. He is not the heir apparent – he is merely support to the lord of the manor – or should we say, the wheel.
Sebastian Vettel, is pound for pound, recognised as the most skilful driver on the circuit over the last few years and certainly the fastest at level conditions.
He is generously priced at a healthy 18-20/1 on most boards.
It is Vettel’s last year in Formula One and certainly one the former world champion would want to crown with a title.
He has something to prove and with his team bosses, publicly stating that the car is an ever improving version, he could find himself gaining positive momentum from wherever he finishes this weekend onto the rest of the season.
He represents incredible value at the price. His teammate, Charles LeClerc who came to the fore with impressive performances last season is amazingly shorter at 10/1 and this enhances the stance that Vettel is value at the longer price. Charles is an amazing emerging talent, but like all good couplings he is not the stable elect – yet!
When it comes to raw talent and sheer exuberant aggressiveness behind the wheel of a race car, one needs to go no further than Max Verstappen.
In Max, Red Bull, like in many of their sponsored sports teams, have a torch for the future. Youthful, un-moulded talent, that will not doubt, in time to come be a serious contender for the world championship glory. He is a 33/10 second favourite for the championship and will no doubt pick up a few races along the way.
However, Red Bull trialled way off the pace of both Mercedes cars in those opening exchanges in Australia and the jury is out on how much if any improvement has been made by the “back office” team during the lockdown enforced break. He has amazing support from Alexander Albon and for those reasons Max will be there or thereabouts at the heels of the leaders. So despite what should be a gargantuan effort, he may falter just short of the ultimate goal, and at the current price he represents no value.
The resident mystery man is one Daniel Ricciardo, who so often flatters to deceive. Daniel is an amazing driver, and probably the best overtaker of the lot – straight or bends, and yet, his talent and inherent abilities are continuously overshadowed by the erratic performances he delivers, race after race.
Renault have been raving about their new software and reliability, all throughout the lockdown break, but I am afraid the bookies have him priced right as a rank outsider (perhaps the 200/1 is a little long).
At this stage I am going to declare the McClaren team an “also ran”.
The improvement required to catch up to the contending teams, and become anything resembling the force of reckoning they once were, is some way away, and that automatically rules out the Sainz and Norris duo.
The hardworking stalwarts, Kimi Raikkonen and Romain Grosjean, have a squeak at a race and some placings here and there but will have no impact.
In the final analysis, Sebastian Vettel is the undoubted value in the race to the title and bets are highly recommended, but in the end, even the karma of Lewis Hamilton’s latest round of hypocritical commentary and observations, won’t be enough to keep his title challenge at bay.
The challenges will come, but as Aristotle ALSO said circa 350BC, “One swallow does not a summer make.” and in the end its making the summer that counts. Lewis has an entire flight of swallows under the hood of his Mercedes waiting to be let loose en route to summer
Ed – Valtteri Bottas survived a high-speed spin as he upstaged Mercedes teammate Lewis Hamilton with a sizzling display on Saturday to claim pole position for Sunday’s delayed season-opening Austrian Grand Prix.