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Tuesday, 18 December, 2018

Sebastian Vettel looks a safe bet for a strong finish at Australian GP

Technical issue makes Lewis Hamilton hard to trust

Sebastian Vettel can't be written off
1 of 1

Australian Grand Prix
Sky Sports F1, 6.10am Sunday

The first qualifying session of the 2018 F1 season provided plenty of hope for an entertaining campaign.

World champion Lewis Hamilton produced a sensational final lap in Q3 to claim pole by more than half a second but Ferrari and Red Bull showed enough to suggest they will be in the hunt for race victories throughout the year.

Hamilton is exposed at the front after his Mercedes teammate Valtteri Bottas had a mighty crash on his first Q3 lap and will start either tenth or possibly at the back of the grid if the damage to his car is extensive.

A concern for those backing Hamilton at 1-2 and shorter is the technical issue he suffered in final practice, while Ferrari's long-run pace means they should not be written off.

Hills are to be applauded for recognising the more competitive field this season and offering three each-way places on the race and with that safety net, Sebastian Vettel looks a solid each-way prospect at 11-2.

The German is third, separated from Hamilton by his teammate Kimi Raikkonen, but made an error on his final lap and his scorching Q2 time suggests he will not be meekly watching Hamilton drive off into the distance.


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Red Bull's Max Verstappen will be aiming to get in the mix for podium places. He and teammate Daniel Ricciardo are the only cars in the top ten starting on a harder tyre compound than their rivals so the potential is there for the Dutchman in particular to gain track position at the first pit-stops or through a safety-car period. Aussie ace Ricciardo's chances have been compromised by a three-place grid penalty.

Punters who kept a close eye on pre-season testing will not be surprised to see Haas, Renault and McLaren as the leading midfield outfits but there looks to be a decent gap to the top three teams at this stage.

Recommendation
S Vettel

2pts each-way 11-2 Hills


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Hills are to be applauded for recognising the more competitive field this season and offering three each-way places on the race
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