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Wednesday, 14 November, 2018

Vettel can squeeze out Bottas for front-row start

Ferrari can find overnight improvement

Sebastian Vettel prepares to take the new Ferrari for another spin round Albert Park
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Sky Sports F1, 6am Saturday

Practice round-up

Formula One 2017 kicked off in impressive fashion with Lewis Hamilton lapping Melbourne's Albert Park circuit five-and-a-half seconds faster than the best first-practice time for last year's Australian Grand Prix.

The Mercedes ace is clearly fired up to challenge for a fourth world championship title having missed out to his teammate Nico Rosberg last year. 

Rosberg chose to retire rather than go through the slog of another battle with Hamilton, and that task this year falls upon Valtteri Bottas. The Finn was second fastest in first practice but only third in the afternoon session and more than half a second behind Hamilton.

Sebastian Vettel's Ferrari edged out Bottas in second practice, having not used the fastest, ultrasoft tyre in the morning.

Qualifying advice

Hamilton is a top-price 1-3 to start the season with an Australian Grand Prix pole position for the fifth time in six years.

On the evidence of practice it's more a matter of how far than whether or not.

However, while Hamilton described his day as "99 per cent perfect", Vettel commented that he had experienced some balance issues but was confident the team knew how to sort them out.

It looks a straight fight between Vettel and Bottas for the other spot on the front row of the grid and there are a range of each-way terms available depending on where you bet.

There was a similar gap between the Mercedes drivers in both practice sessions, and it would be no surprise to see the same story in qualifying as Bottas tackles his first weekend with Mercedes.

Vettel doesn't have much to find to depose Bottas to the second row, and it wouldn't be a shock if Raikkonen can pressurise him in the second Ferrari.

Red Bull looked a clear third-best in practice and it would be a surprise if Max Verstappen or Daniel Ricciardo can squeeze onto one of the front two rows of the grid.

Recommendation
S Vettel fastest qualifier
2pts each-way 8-1 Betway, Ladbrokes

While Hamilton described his day as "99 per cent perfect", Vettel commented that he had experienced some balance issues
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