The 2022 Formula One World Championship season has already proven to be a highly exciting one, and it will only get better this weekend when F1 drivers head to the Land Down Under for the 2022 Australian Grand Prix. It will mark the first time in three long years that the drivers will visit Albert Park, which promises to produce another spectacular race.
A Lot Has Changed
The last Australian Grand Prix was held in 2019 and a lot has changed since then — both in the world and in F1. A year later, the Australian Grand Prix was officially announced as the country’s first opening sporting event. However, the even was canceled due to the coronavirus pandemic, which also prevented the race from happening in 2021.
The pandemic has yet to end, but the Australian Grand Prix has received a green light to take place, which is exciting because we’re back at Albert Park and this year’s race will be much different.
So what has changed? In Formula One, plenty.
Last year, a team other than Silver Arrows finally won the driver’s championship, marking what many believe is the end of an era. Moreover, the F1 introduced two new races in Saudi Arabia and Qatar, and we welcomed back the Netherlands and Imola races as well. And for the 2022 season, the F1 schedule introduced two new races in Las Vegas and Miami.
Obviously, that doesn’t affect the Australian Grand Prix, nor will it affect the F1 odds for this weekend’s race. But the new cars, regulations and, most importantly, changes made to Albert Park itself will impact the odds.
Changes to the Track
The Australian Grand Prix that we knew is no more and Albert Park is no longer the same track we saw in 2019. The racetrack has undergone some significant changes since the 2019 Australia GP and will now introduce new challenges for the drivers.
The most notable and biggest change is the removal of the chicane at Turns 9 and 10. Instead, there is now a flat-out run from Turn 6 all the way to Turns 11 and 12. Other changes that have been made to the track have been introduced to improve the racing experience at Albert Park, which has traditionally seen very few overtakes.
The race organizers achieved that by widening Turns 1, 3, 6, 11 and 13, which created better passing opportunities as well as conditions to facilitate wheel-to-wheel combat between the drivers. The track was also resurfaced for the first time since 1995.
“Lap times will be four to five seconds quicker than they were in the old spec cars with the old track configuration,” said Andrew Westacott, Australian GP Corporation chief executive
“You want to reward aggressive driving and penalize poor driving, and we think that the changes we have made are going to achieve this. I think it is going to be the most spectacular racing we have seen for decades.”
What Happened Last Time?
With a new surface and new track configuration, it is tough to find any Formula 1 bets that you could place and feel comfortable with because there are many unknowns. Even though the last Australia GP might not serve as a good form guide for this weekend’s race, it’s still worth looking back and checking out what happened in 2019.
To see what happened at the last race at Albert Park, we have to rewind time by more than three years, but those who have been following F1 for a while will quickly recall the exciting 2019 Australian Grand Prix.
That year, Valtteri Bottas (+10000) passed his teammate, Lewis Hamilton, to claim the lead at the start of the race and he never looked back, eventually claiming his first victory in Australia.
We also saw Daniel Ricciardo’s first race in Renault after he left Red Bull, but his debut proved to be a disaster. Ricciardo lost his front wing on the main straight at the start of the race. As a result, the home-crowd favorite was forced to retire on Lap 31 and has since won just one race (2021 Italy), so we can be sure that Ricciardo (+25000) will have a lot to prove on his home soil.
Hamilton (+1600), who would win the 2019 F1 championship, finished the Australian GP second, marking his fourth consecutive runner-up finish at Albert Park. The Brit has consistently delivered on the old Australian track, but there are reasons to believe he might not be able to continue his streak.
The Mercedes driver has struggled to show up this season, with a third-place finish in Bahrain and a 10th-place from Saudi Arabia (his worst since Azerbaijan 2021). And it’s not so much that Hamilton is driving poorly as it’s Mercedes having issues with its cars.
Hopefully, Mercedes had enough time to fix the issues to bring us an exciting and tight battle for the Australian crowd. But even with Hamilton (likely) out of the picture, it’s hard not to feel excited about the new rivalry between Max Verstappen (+120) and Charles Leclerc (+150), who are the main two drivers to watch.