This weekend the world’s glitziest sporting circus moves onto Austria. With the fallout from a dramatic, fascinating Azerbaijan Grand Prix still fresh in the memory, this season is ready to ignite.
Sebastian Vettel and Lewis Hamilton are on course to grow a rivalry into something that can capture new fans. An us versus them mentality seldom seen in Formula One in recent years has been bubbling under this season, but finally reached a controversial boiling point when Vettel crashed into Hamilton in Baku. No further action has been taken by the authorities that be, which does perhaps raise questions about what a driver would have to do to be punished.
Vettel is the Championship leader still with a tight 14 point margin to Hamilton. Though Valteri Bottas has impressed at times this season, the newly-signed Mercedes second driver is nothing more than a dark horse for the title at 25/1. His 111 points to date do see him within touching distance from Vettel (153), however.
The title will – as has been clear for months – be a straight shootout between the German and the Brit. It will be more than wheel to wheel combat now, though, with the aggressive post-race comments from both drivers ringing in the minds of all around the sport. If either was to be expected to lose their cool and potentially damage their chances, it would be Hamilton. Mercedes’ main man has clearly got under the skin of the Ferrari driver, which could prove significant in the remaining races.
Winning experience is no differential for this pair, but Hamilton’s Mercedes team are expected to find extra pace throughout the year. The gap we saw between the two at the start of the year is long gone and I believe Hamilton to have the edge over Vettel if it’s an even race. Hamilton is 11/20 to take pole at the Austrian Grand Prix this weekend, and those odds rise to 43/25 to then convert that into a fourth race victory of the season.
Should Hamilton and Vettel become distracted with their – now extremely personal – grudge, Bottas to be spraying champagne from the top step of the podium could be a strong price at 17/4.
Despite trailing Vettel in the standings, Hamilton remains the favourite for the title at 3/4. The German is chasing a fifth world title and is at Evens to consolidate his greatness and bring another title to the Italian manufacturer after an underwhelming few years.