The go-kart club for posh boys is revving up for the season ahead but as the teams put in some laps at the official tests in Spain do the odds at Bet365 really mean we can bet on Formula One to be something other than a twenty race parade building up to Lewis Hamilton’s inevitable fourth world championship win?
F1 Championship 2017
• Raikkonen– 20/1
• Vettel – 9/1
• Ricciardo – 6/1
• Verstappen – 9/2
• Bottas – 7/2
• Hamilton – 4/5
With the “Under New Management” sign still swinging on the paddock gate Formula One is making as much media noise as possible in the run up to the 2017 season that kicks off with the traditional opening round in Australia later this month. Liberty Media might have changed their name but their PR department has been on overdrive assailing us with a flurry of stories about the teams, drivers and cars as the new bosses bet on Formula One needing publicity as much as reform. They could well be right.
Sadly, however, whilst you can bet on Formula One to put on a good show just sometimes there’s very little at the heart of all the song and dance. The teams launch their new cars for the season as if we might never have seen anything like them before, only for it to transpire they look very much like the old cars. Four wheels, cockpit for the cock that will drive it, spoilery things on the back. Hardly anything for someone who likes to bet on sports in Australia to get excited about. But it made news.
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F1 Championship 2017
• Fernando Alsono – 66/1
• Vandoorne – 200/1
• Massa – 250/1
• Sainz – 300/1
• Hulkenberg – 500/1
• Magnussen – 500/1
• Ericsson – 2000/1
Pre-season testing was also much touted and flouted. The four day stint at the Barcelona-Catalunya circuit where the teams could show off all the hard work they’d put in over the winter, get out and set some times……or hit some walls something you can always bet on Formula One to provide. This time it was aptly rookie Williams driver Lance Stroll who managed to ruin one day by going off at quite some speed at turn 9, then end the next by finishing his 100 laps and THEN crashing into a wall at turn 6.
You could almost hear the PR department breathe a sigh of relief. Even better it transpired that due to some reliability issues with the Mercedes (almost certain to be wiped away before season’s start) Ferrari managed to go fastest on two of the four days. Kimi Raikkonen just that bit faster than the chasing pack, however, once Mercedes sort out their issues you can bet on Formula One returning to the usual pattern of Red Bull, Ferrari and Williams chasing down at least one of the silver arrows.
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The efforts to rouse a large audience for the initial race on the 26th is understandable. The investment that has been made needs to be recouped, the era of Bernie Ecclestone over there’s much room to improve the sport as a whole, however the pace of that change will have to match public expectations, and judging by their efforts so far I’d not bet on Formula One bosses Liberty Media being entirely sure how to get that done. Traditions are hard to break with even once the old king is dead and buried.
Naturally the season ahead is already attracting those in Australia gambling news of Mercedes reliability issues will vanish like the morning mist on a sunny day before anyone gets to Melbourne, and at Bet365 Lewis Hamilton is just 4/5 to take the title this year with Mercedes new boy Valtteri Bottas at 7/2, Max Verstappen at 9/2, Daniel Ricciardo at 6/1, Sebastian Vettel getting 9/1 and Kimi, despite his fast run in Spain only gets 20/1 to take the world championship again.
Publicity might well help F1 gain an audience but that audience won’t stay if this season turns once more into a silver arrows one-two every race as it so often has before.