Williams to turn back the clock

  • By: Tom Millard
  • Last Updated: March 13 2014, 9:58 GMT

Sir Frank Williams' eponymous grand prix team can shock the established order by winning this weekend's Australian Grand Prix, says our Tom Millard.

The Williams car can surprise in Melbourne this weekend
The Williams car can surprise in Melbourne this weekend

The early races in any Formula One season are fertile territory in terms of value bets, so it's important to take advantage of them while we feel we have an edge.

Realistically, it's virtually impossible to price up the Australian Grand Prix markets ahead of this weekend's opening race... so it's a good job we don't have to.

We're in the fortunate position of being able to sit back and pick off only the bets we really fancy from an array of hundreds across the different lists.

The first price that stands out is in the opening practice session, for which the Mercedes drivers are default favourites.

You can get 16/1 that a Force India tops the timesheets for this session, which looks a little on the long side.

Nico Hulkenberg was fastest on the opening day of the first Bahrain test in mid-February, while team-mate Sergio Perez achieved the same feat a week later on day one of the second test at Sakhir.

It may just be a coincidence that the Northamptonshire-based team hit the ground running in such a manner but regardless of any pattern, two fastest times in eight days suggest any inflated odds are worth a play.

The pair can be backed at best prices of 28/1 and 33/1 respectively for Friday morning's FP1, which makes the combined 16s cheaper than dutching the individual drivers.

Moving onto Saturday and the best bet of the weekend looks to be the 7/1 on a Williams to take pole position.

My ante-post season preview outlined why Sir Frank's team are heading to Melbourne in the best shape for many years - essentially their new car has been shown to be bang on the pace and reliable with it.

Most insiders suspect the works Mercedes will ultimately prove to have the legs of the FW36 but no one really knows for sure and the stand-out price is simply too good to pass up.

Once again, backing Felipe Massa and Valtteri Bottas in the pole market separately will yield only around 5.7/1, so the 7/1 is a better value bet.

The same applies to the equivalent bet in the race winner market given the impressive long-run pace their car showed in Bahrain.

Massa and Bottas are 11/1 and 16/1 to take the chequered flag first at Albert Park but the one-fifth place terms on offer in that market are a throwback to last season's Red Bull-led processions and value is thin on the ground for each-way backers.

More cautious punters can avail themselves of podium odds of 3/1 for the Brazilian and 7/2 for the Finn, but with question marks hanging over the reliability of the market-leading Mercedes after niggles disrupted their running in the final test, sportingbet's 7/1 on either Williams man winning the race has to be worthy of an interest.

Hulkenberg also makes some appeal at 6/1 in the podium market given the solid running Force India have completed in winter testing and the lurking possibility of rain during Sunday afternoon's race.

Finally, after all the doom-laden predictions of races finishing with only half a dozen surviving cars, it would be rude not to acknowledge the possibility of one of the backmarkers finally finishing a race in the points.

Few will forget Mark Webber's emotional fifth-place finish for the perenially-pointless Minardi team here back in 2002, and there's a feeling that history could repeat as we venture into the unknown thanks to the regulatory overhaul.

I'll tip Marussia driver Jules Bianchi to be the man to break his duck for the tail-enders by finishing in the points at 7/1, while the odds on a double points-finish for Sauber also look too long at a best of 15/2 .

Adrian Sutil and Esteban Gutierrez were both able to rack up the miles during the winter without ever showing a great turn of pace, so given the reliability concerns of the entire field and the potential for a wet race, simply seeing the chequered flag might be enough to register on the scoreboard.

  • Posted at 1410 GMT on 11/03/2014.

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