The Australian Grand Prix two weeks ago didn’t set the pulses racing. Mercedes dominated as expected, came home in a 1-2. This weekend, the second Grand rix of the season in Sepang, Malaysia

Recommendations

Sebastian Vettel : 2/1 William Hill, Malaysian Grand Prix without Mercedes

Romain Grosjean 11/4 Ladbrokes, Malaysian Grand Prix top Six Finish

The Australian Grand Prix two weeks ago didn’t set the pulses racing. Mercedes dominated as expected, came home in a 1-2. and routinely lapped Albert Park 1.2 seconds quicker than their nearest competitor.  Mercedes are now as low as 11/4 to win every race this season.

This weekend, in the second of fly-away races at the start of the season, is the Malaysian Grand Prix. Compared to Australia step changes in performance are unlikely (and will remain so until the teams beginning the European season in May).

So we should expect some trends established in Australia to carry on in Malaysia. Just in case we think things will be too predictable though, Malaysia’s race runs in a late-afternoon timeslot, meaning heavy rain is always a possibility given the country’s tropical climate, and if in race that means safety cars, jumbled orders and opportunities for creative strategy.

The clear superiority of Mercedes is obviously the dominant force in outright markets in Formula One betting and as is usually the case in any sport with a clear winner of most races (16/1 bar two in Malaysia) we have to turn to sub-markets to find some value

Firstly, in the outright market each way terms are only 1/3 the odds top 2. Realistically we would have to rely on mechanical problems to get any non-Mercedes into the top two. Betting “without Mercedes” gives us a chance. I like this market currently because Formula 1 lacks depth in competitiveness. Red Bull is off the pace. McLaren is nowhere. The Force Indias are reliable but slow. Lotus and Sauber are improving, but its a stretch to expect them to hit a podium.

So we are left with Ferrari and Williams, and even the evidence of Australia is that the Ferrari in race pace is quicker than the Williams driver. We can also strongly suggest that Vettel is slightly quicker than Raikkonen so the 2/1 about Vettel in the “Malaysian Grand Prix without Mercedes” market looks more than fair

Looking at another sub-market, “Top Six Finish” and relating that through to the pace we saw in Australia. The Lotus team is carrying a Mercedes engine this year and the improvements from that were seen in the first race weekend. Grosjean and Maldonado ran top ten in second and third practice, qualified top ten only 0.2 seconds off the Red Bull and then both failed to complete a lap of the race.

Grosjean was interviewed last week and said

“Our target for the early races is to be regularly in the top 10. We certainly demonstrated that in Albert Park and our race pace simulations were good so if we’d remained in the race we should have finished strongly. There’s nothing to suggest this can’t be the case in Malaysia and we really want to start scoring points.”

Grosjean is priced at 11/4 to finish top six in Malaysia behind the Williams, Ferrari and of course Mercedes drivers, fair enough but also at a much bigger price than Ricciardo (4/5) and Kvyat (7/4) in the Red Bulls. Some modest attritition from runners in front and 11/4 will look a very nice price indeed. Far preferred to Maldonado, for whom finishing a race often seems like an achievement in itself.

Recommendations

Sebastian Vettel : 2/1 William Hill, Malaysian Grand Prix without Mercedes

Romain Grosjean 11/4 Ladbrokes, Malaysian Grand Prix top Six Finish