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Saturday, 19 January, 2019

Vettel can take advantage of Hamilton hurt

Ferrari ace set to make up for qualifying near-miss

Sebastian Vettel missed out on pole by just 0.04 seconds
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Austrian Grand Prix
Sky Sports F1, 1pm Sunday

Top tip
Sebastian Vettel 7-4

All eyes will be on Lewis Hamilton in the early stages of the Austrian Grand Prix as the three-time world champion tries to make his way up from eighth on the grid.

It's not impossible that he could win - Nico Rosberg came within six corners of victory after starting sixth last year - but the best price of 9-2 doesn't exactly beg to be snapped up.

Hamilton's long-run pace in Friday practice suggested he was in good shape for the race, but track conditions change from session to session and he was nowhere near as fluent as we have seen him in the top-ten shootout.

A gearbox change, which led to a five-place grid penalty, and a brake failure in third practice also won't have put him in a positive frame of mind.

Hamilton's Mercedes teammate Valtteri Bottas took the second pole position of his career, and the Briton will be hoping Bottas can lead the field through the first lap. If he does so, Bottas would be able to control the pace and would be in a position to help Hamilton, who has opted for a different strategy to most of the field in starting the race on supersoft, rather than ultrasoft tyres.

Vettel felt he may have been able to leapfrog Bottas had qualifying not been halted prematurely due to Romain Gosjean's Haas being stranded on the track after a mechanical failure.

The championship leader will not be too disheartened though as none of his three wins this season have come from pole position.

Vettel missed out on the top spot in qualifying by 0.04 seconds, and with the Ferrari tending to show stronger pace over a race distance than in the one-lap shootout of qualifying, he will be confident of earning a fourth win of the season.

Other markets
Stoffel Vandoorne points finish 6-4
Esteban Ocon top-six finish 9-4

Stoffel Vandoorne scored a point in his sole outing for McLaren last season, but he has not been able to match that in eight races this year.

It has been a miserable season for the Woking team, even by their dismal recent standards, but there are signs they are getting things together.

Both cars were classified finishers in each of the last two races and Fernando Alonso finally put points on the board for the team in Azerbaijan last time.

An engine upgrade taken to Austria helped put both cars in the top ten in first practice, and 12th and 13th on the grid is their best combined effort other than on the unique Monaco track.

Alonso qualified ahead despite having to revert to the old-spec engine, but he may struggle to stay there on a power-oriented circuit. 

Vandoorne was the quicker McLaren driver in two of the three practice sessions and he could sneak into the top ten.

The intra-team battle at Force India is perhaps the fiercest on the grid, and a clash between Sergio Perez and Esteban Ocon in Azerbaijan arguably cost the team a 1-2 finish.

They look a clear fourth-best at this track behind Mercedes, Ferrari and Red Bull, and their traditional challengers for the best of the rest title, Williams, are struggling.

Ocon starts ninth but the Force India is mighty quick in a straight line, which will help with overtaking. And with reliability niggles starting to affect the big three teams, it's worth a small stake that Ocon can earn his third straight top-six finish.

S Vettel
2pts 7-4 Hills, Paddy Power, Sky Bet
S Vandoorne points finish
1pt 6-4 general
E Ocon top-six finish
1pt 9-4 Hills, Sky Bet

Vettel felt he may have been able to leapfrog Bottas had qualifying not been halted prematurely
E.W. Terms
Sky bet