The long wait is over for all the petrol heads who have been missing their Formula One action as the season gets underway at Albert Park race track in Melbourne on Sunday morning.
With the regular tweaks to the rules and a host of new drivers in the paddock, will things be different this season or will it be another Mercedes procession? Here, Nick Harris takes us through the possibilities.
Sebastian Vettel - Outright Winner @ 15/8 - BET NOW
As ever with formula one, nothing can be taken at face value and after Friday’s practice session we are no nearer to knowing what is going to happen on race day than we were before.
Mercedes were fastest throughout with world champions Lewis Hamilton leading the way, with team-mate Valtteri Bottas a mere 0.048 seconds behind him.
No one else was particularly close which was something of a surprise given that the times were all quite close in Thursday’s first free practice.
Red Bull’s Max Verstappen was third fastest but he was eight tenths of a second off the pace.
Most observers think that Ferrari and Vettel were deliberately quiet so as to not show their hand early, especially after having such a good winter testing programme where they were clearly the fastest car, so that has to be considered when thinking about the F1 betting.
Vettel has won the last two season openers in Melbourne and will be looking for a third to get his season up and running and he looks the pick of the prices in the Formula One betting tips.
He will be desperate to get his season off to a good start as he searches for his fifth world championship but he was certainly giving nothing away after the final practice session.
He said: "It was a tricky day for us, we are not there yet where we would like to be, not in terms of lap time but more in terms of car feel and handling.
"We didn't really get into the groove and rhythm and that is quite important around here. If we can get that confidence and groove back there is a lot of time to find around here."
Lewis Hamilton – Pole Position @ 13/8 - BET NOW
Hamilton showed great pace in the second round of practice and if he were to keep that up, as well as the distance between him and his rivals, on Saturday morning then he will continue to be at the top of the Formula One odds to take pole position for Sunday.
It will depend on whether Ferrari are playing games though as every other contender improved markedly from first practice to second - Vettel up by just 0.164secs and Max Verstappen by only 0.392secs.
Which means the pair were either holding something back or did not perform as expected, and judging from Hamilton’s performance, the world champion could again be the best bet to start from the front on Sunday.
Ferrari @ 13/10 - BET NOW
Looking further ahead than this weekend and Hamilton’s team-mate Valtteri Bottas believes that Mercedes will be chasing Ferrari in 2019, claiming the Silver Arrows are now underdogs.
Bottas, who is looking to bounce back from a disappointing 2018 season, believes that Mercedes could find themselves on the back foot this season from what he has seen over the winter.
"What we see from testing, we think so," he said about Mercedes being underdogs. "We’re going to be kind of chasing."
Whether it is early-season mind games remains to be seen, but Ferrari could be the team to go with for constructor glory, with Mercedes the favourites to defend their title.
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