It's springtime for petrol heads – after a short hibernation without the sound of roaring engines, squealing tyres and whining drivers, the 2008 Formula One season starts again with the Australian Grand Prix in Melbourne tomorrow. Britons will hope that Lewis Hamilton can overcome the desperate anticlimax of losing the drivers' championship by one point to Kimi Raikkonen, having let slip a convincing lead.
Hamilton is no longer the unknown quantity who was a 16-1 chance this time last year – the best you can get now is 11-4 with Totesport, as Raikkonen enjoys the unanimous support of the bookies, with a best price of 5-4 at Skybet.
With the No 2 drivers of both teams (Felipe Massa of Ferrari, 5-1 Skybet; Heikki Kovalainen of McLaren, 12-1 Bet 365) next best in the betting we have the same set-up as last season, when nobody outside the top two won a race. Of course, Fernando Alonso (14-1 Stan James) has returned to Renault and should make matters more competitive.
Some bookies have reacted to a stifled market by offering odds without Ferrari and McLaren. BMW's Nick Heidfeld, the most consistent driver outside the big four last year, with 61 points, can be backed at 5-1 with Coral. You could try Ladbrokes' season handicap in which all are priced 10-1. Heidfeld is +65, with Raikkonen on 0. A tenner on this, and £5 each-way for Heidfeld at Melbourne, at 50-1 (Skybet).
Last week's wagers
New Zealand trounced England in the first Test for a payout of £27.50. Meanwhile, at soggy Cheltenham we were slightly up, by a massive fiver, thanks to Kazal, advised at 20-1 ew, finishing third in the World Hurdle.