A mere 112 days later than planned, the 2020 Formula 1 season kicks off this weekend in Austria.
Defending champion Lewis Hamilton is bidding for a record-equalling seventh drivers title this year and is the
9/5* favourite to begin his campaign with a win. However, the Mercedes ace has endured plenty of woe at the Red Bull Ring circuit over the years, so he may not be delighted at the prospect of starting the season with not one, but two races at the Spielberg circuit.
Young gun Max Verstappen has claimed victory for Red Bull at their home circuit in each of the last two seasons, and the flying Dutchman is
2/1 to make it a hat-trick.
Verstappen had fortune on his side when he won in 2018, but he had to do things the hard way last year after making a terrible start from the front row of the grid.
Charles Leclerc led the race in 2019 until being muscled aside by Verstappen two laps from the finish, and the 22-year-old Monegasque will be eager to make amends. Leclerc is looking to build on a hugely impressive first season for Ferrari in which he scored two wins and seven pole positions, and he is a
9/2 chance for a successful start to the campaign.
Austria has not been a happy hunting ground for Hamilton. His only win at the circuit came in 2016 after he overtook his then team-mate Nico Rosberg on the final lap.
Mercedes struggled to keep their car cool in last year’s blistering temperatures, while they were handicapped in 2018 by having to run well-worn engine parts. Neither of those will be an issue this time and with the car having looked as strong as ever in pre-season testing, Hamilton will have his supporters at the prices.
Flying Finn Bottas could Push Hamilton Close
Value seekers may take an interest in Hamilton’s teammate Valtteri Bottas at
6/1. The Finn has taken pole position at the Red Bull Ring in two of the last three seasons, winning the race in 2017 and suffering a mechanical failure the following year. Bottas tends to be at his best at the start of a season – he began last year with two wins and three second places in the first five races.
Alexander Albon could be interesting in the podium finish market at
3/1. The young Thai driver impressed after being called up to the senior Red Bull team midway through his rookie season last year and was unlucky not to claim a maiden top-three spot in Brazil.
Red Bull tend to start seasons slowly before rapidly developing their car, but back in the winter they looked to be in better shape to start the campaign than in previous years.
Plenty of eyes will be on Racing Point, who shone in pre-season after unveiling a car that looked suspiciously similar to last year’s Mercedes. Sergio Perez is
8/1 for a podium position and
1/1 to finish in the top six.
*All odds correct at time of writing