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Hamilton the early favourite for Sepang

After a pole position and podium finish in Australia, Lewis Hamilton is the bookies favourite for victory as F1 heads to Sepang this weekend for round two
It's too early to say there has been a changing of the guard in Formula 1 and one could argue there were more questions than answers coming out of Melbourne with Jenson Button taking Lewis Hamilton on the run to the first bend and then comfortably holding off both his team-mate and then Sebastian Vettel for victory in the Australian Grand Prix.

McLaren as a team must have been thrilled with a 1-3 finish, but Hamilton must have been disappointed that he failed to convert pole into a victory. By contrast, Red Bull must have been satisfied with Sunday given they were far more competitive on raceday than they had been in qualifying, with Mark Webber finishing fourth despite a poor start.

That said, Button had the air post race not only of a job well done, but a hint that he certainly believes McLaren have arrested control away from Red Bull …at least in the short term.

Fernando Alonso was at his brilliant best but the bottom line is that Ferrari were never a threat and must find a second from somewhere or it is going to be another frustrating year for the Spanish ace.

It's hard to know what to make of Lotus, with Romain Grosjean colliding with Pastor Maldonado on lap two and former World Champion Kimi Raikkonen left down in the pack after a tough qualifying session. It's too early to make a statement about how competitive the Lotus E20 will be this year.

Before Australia Vettel was a best priced 11/10 for the hat-trick of World Titles with BetVictor but he is now out to 2/1 with current leader Jenson Button 5/2 and Lewis Hamilton 11/4, Alonso 16/1, Schumacher and Rosberg 25s and Raikkonen 40/1 ahead of this weekend's Malaysian Grand Prix in Kuala Lumpur.

The Sepang circuit is purpose built and is often described as the most demanding on the calendar for car and driver with the heat, humidity and consecutive high-speed corners making the circuit a real mechanical as well as human test. The long range weather forecast suggests the race could be rain-affected and that might suit the McLaren's more than Red Bull who, ironically had a 1-3 in the race last year (Vettel winning from pole) with McLaren filling places 2-4.

Ahead of first qualifying it is hard to make case for anyone other than Red Bull (Vettel winner in 2010 and 2011) or McClaren (Button winner in 2009) in Malaysia but there are a number of previous winners going to line up on Sunday; Alonso won in 2005 and 2007, Raikkonen in 2003 and 2008 and Michael Schumacher in 2000, 2001 and 2004 yet it is Lewis Hamilton (without a win in Malaysia) who currently heads the market, at the time of writing, at 5/2.

One down 19 to go; with only a week between Melbourne and Kuala Lumpur the teams have little time to assess their performance and make discreet changes to the makeup of the car and it is too early after one race to be too dogmatic about whether there has been a shift in power in F1 but another win for McLaren and who knows?

One thing is certain 2012 already looks sure to be a more exciting F1 season than in recent years:

Malaysian Grand Prix; prices from betvictor.com, ew 1/5 1, 2, 3:

Lewis Hamilton 5/2
Jenson Button 11/4
Sebastian Vettel 11/4
Mark Webber 9/1
Nico Rosberg 20/1
Fernando Alonso 20/1

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To check out the complete odds or to place your bet, visit Betvictor.com.

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Liam48

March 20, 2012 7:27 PM

UNBELIEVABLE!!! Button goes out an wins in Australia by destroying Hamilton during the race and he still diesn't get the recognition that Hamilton gets even when he doesn't win. Yes Hamilton may have qualified 1st but Button had better race pace and had more speed in reserve as he set the fastest lap on the penultimate lap and was 4 tenths quicker than Hamilton's. When will people just look at what Button has done compared to Hamilton over the past year and realize Button is a much better and classier driver than Hamilton?!



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