After the first two races of the 2023 Formula One campaign, we’ve witnessed pure dominance from Red Bull, as their drivers have claimed the top two spots in each race this season. However, there’s been a number of surprises this season as well, more specifically Aston Martin and Alonso’s resurgence to the top of the grid. Below I’ll provide a recap of the first two practice sessions, as well as my predictions and a preview of the Australian Grand Prix.
Practice Sessions 1 & 2
The first two practice sessions in Melbourne, Australia have come and gone, as the drivers have gotten their first chances to get used to the 5.278-kilometer Albert Park Circuit. The first practice session was held on Thursday March 30 and the results were not too surprising. Red Bull driver Max Verstappen had another impressive outing as he posted the fastest lap, with a time of 1:18.790. He was followed by Mercedes driver Lewis Hamilton, who had his best session of the season, followed by Verstappen’s teammate Sergio Perez, Aston Martin’s Fernando Alonso, and both Ferrari drivers, Charles Leclerc and Carlos Sainz.
The second practice session was held the following day on Friday March 31. Only nineteen of the twenty drivers on the grid competed, as Williams driver Logan Sargent did not participate. Fernando Alonso has continued his impressive 2023 season, posting the fastest lap of the session with a time of 1:18.887. The Spanish driver has returned back to the front of the pack in his first season with Aston Martin.
Ferrari seems to be returning to their form from last season as Charles Leclerc finished in 2nd and Carlos Sainz in 5th. Max Verstappen enjoyed another solid session, as he posted the third fastest lap and his teammate Sergio Perez struggled a bit, as he posted the 7th fastest lap. Mercedes, who is desperately looking for improvement, saw George Russell finish with the 4th fastest lap while his teammate Lewis Hamilton endured another misstep, as he fell from 2nd to 13th in the second practice session.
Grand Prix Preview
The Australian Grand Prix is following the same weekend format as the first two races of the season, as it consists of three one-hour practice sessions, with the third one being held on Friday March 31, a qualifying session, which will be held on Saturday April 1, and the ultimate grand prix, which will commence on Sunday April 2 at 1:00 am EST.
All twenty drivers are scheduled to compete in the grand prix on Sunday, which will consist of 58 laps, for a total of 306.124 kilometers. As mentioned above, the grand prix will be held at the Albert Park Circuit, which held its first Formula One grand prix way back in 1996. The track consists of 14 corners, 2 DRS detection zones, and a speed trap. The Australian Grand Prix is one of the most anticipated races of the season and this year is no exception.
Predictions for Australia
As the grand prix approaches, the betting odds remain very similar to the first two races. Dutch driver Max Verstappen(-333) enters as the very heavy favorite, and for good reason. The Red Bull driver won the opening grand prix in Sakhir and finished in second in the Saudi Arabia Grand Prix, even after having to overcome a 15-spot grid penalty. Verstappen is the clear favorite here and I think he’s the only driver you should bet on to win this race, even with his low-value odds.
I think that Verstappen is the only safe choice here, but as we know, anything could happen and the only other two drivers I would consider betting on is Verstappen’s teammate Sergio Perez(+450) and Aston Martin veteran driver Fernando Alonso(+650). Both of these picks have solid value as they’ve both been near the front of the pack this season, but I don’t think either of them will win unless Verstappen suffers car issues or is unable to finish the race. Despite Verstappen entering Sunday as a heavy favorite, the Australian Grand Prix always delivers an exciting spectacle and I expect more of the same this weekend.
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