- Chris Sobey
Formula 1 Australian Grand Prix
Race Date: 15th November 2015
Circuit Name: Albert Park, Melbourne
Practice/Qualifying: 18th & 19th
Number of Laps: 58
Circuit Length: 5.3 km
Race Distance: 307.4 km
The eagerly anticipated 2016 F1 season is here and the sport could not wish for a more suitable and picturesque venue to open proceedings than Albert Park and its memorable lake, which the temporary street circuit surrounds.
Mercedes have replaced McLaren, Ferrari and Red Bull as the dominant team in F1 and their success looks set to continue in 2016 judging by how well their pre-season testing went. Mercedes are red hot favourites to retain the Constructors Championship as a result and Hamilton is the hot favourite to retain the Drivers’ Championship in 2016. Hamilton is definitely the one to beat in 2016 and if he does win back to back Championships the British superstar will join a select group of drivers who have won three F1 Championships.
Albert Park is technically challenging with fast sweeping corners and due to it being a street track the tyres can take longer to bed in. They also degrade faster as the surface is naturally dirtier due to it taking place on normal streets and this means both the drivers and teams will need to work closely on tyre management and pit stop tactics throughout the weekend.
Over the last decade Jenson Button for Brawn and McLaren with three wins (2009, 2010 and 2012) and defending Champion Lewis Hamilton for McLaren and Mercedes (2008 and 2015) have been the most successful drivers at Albert Park. Mercedes have won the race the last two years as Rosberg won in 2014 (Hamilton qualified fastest but retired on lap 55) and Mercedes recorded a one two in qualifying and the race proper in 2015 with Rosberg finishing 1.3 seconds behind Hamilton.
As Hamilton has been the quickest driver in qualifying the last two years at Albert Park there seems no reason not to back him again for three in a row at even money. He’s also 10/11 to win Sunday’s GP and while it’s tempting to go for the double given his dominant racing record, both at Albert Park and throughout last season, there are enough uncertainties to leave Sunday’s GP alone from a betting perspective on this occasion. This is mainly due to potential rain and greasy/slippery track conditions this weekend and the fact 9 of 20 drivers did not finish this race last season.