2014 betting preview: Hamilton the new favourite as Rosberg emerges as dark horse
Sky Bet's Jamie Casey weighs up the betting odds ahead on an uncertain season.
By Jamie Casey
Last Updated: 14/03/14 11:00am
Sebastian Vettel had bookmakers seething as every right-minded punter abandoned the faintest hope of landing an outside bet amid the Red Bull man's nine-race winning streak.
Very few bet against Vettel after the mid-way point of the season and there was little the Sky Bet trading room could do about it, as the money continued to roll in on the German, regardless of the measly odds on offer from Belgium and beyond.
Just over three months after Brazil, though, and the script is very much unwritten for 2014. Nothing's certain anymore, and that's how we all like it. As was the case last season, winter testing has had a big impact on the betting odds ahead of the opener in Melbourne this weekend.
The shrewdest of punters have money riding on current third favourite Nico Rosberg at his pre-Jerez price of 22/1. He's now as short as 11/2, with Mercedes the odds-on favourites for the Constructors' Championship at 10/11.
Indeed, the Brackley-based outfit were available at 2/1 at the turn of the year, with initial favourites Red Bull since pushed out to 9/2. Even Ferrari are now given shorter odds at 4/1 as the bookmakers expect both their drivers to win races this year, but the same cannot be said for Red Bull.
Fernando Alonso is odds-on (1/2) to outscore new team-mate Kimi Raikkonen but the pair are outsiders for the title, with the former rated 13/2 and the latter 14/1, while either to win in Australia is a 5/1 chance.
Mercedes appear to be the team to beat and they're 14/1 to win each of the first five races, while Red Bull are 13/8 not to score a single podium finish over the same stretch of events, with Spain the fifth race of the season on May 11.
Lewis Hamilton overtook Vettel as the favourite for the 2014 title at the end of January, when Red Bull's struggles first became evident, and Mercedes are now 7/2 for a one-two finish in the Drivers' Championship.
Of course, Williams, Force India and McLaren are each powered by Mercedes engines, and they all promise to be competitive this season. Force India are 28/1 to win two or more races while three or more wins for Williams is a 16/1 chance with Sky Bet.
Indeed, Williams are 9/2 second favourites behind Mercedes (1/1) for a win in Melbourne, but they're not expected to keep up with the pace for the entire season.
The Grove outfit were 40/1 for the Constructors' Title before testing and they're now significantly shorter at 11/1, though Ferrari, Red Bull and McLaren remain ranked ahead of them in the betting market. However, Williams can be backed to finish in the top three at 9/4.
Felipe Massa is 4/6 to outscore Valtteri Bottas (11/10) and the Brazilian is in fact Sky Bet's biggest liability in the Drivers' Title market, having attracted plenty of money at 80/1 before testing. He's still a long shot at 22/1, but he has a decent chance of outscoring former Ferrari team-mate Alonso at 9/4.
Meanwhile, Jenson Button is a 12/1 outsider for the Drivers' Title but has odds of 5/2 to finish in the top three, a clear sign of how much progress has gone on at McLaren in the off-season, with the 2009 World Champion 9/4 to score a podium finish in Australia.
His new team-mate Kevin Magnussen has impressed in his McLaren so far and the Dane is one of three rookies on the grid, with Russian youngster Daniil Kvyat of Toro Rosso and Marcus Ericsson of Caterham being the other two. Sky Bet offer 7/2 that any one of the trio finishes on the podium in Melbourne.
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