Max Verstappen will be on Australian soil for the seventh time this coming weekend. The Dutchman has not yet had a happy marriage with the Down Under race. Only once did he manage to get a podium in Melbourne. Can the Dutchman deal with his Melbourne demons and head for victory?
After two years without a race on Australian soil, the Australian Grand Prix will return in all its glory this weekend. The race Down Under is usually a much-loved event among drivers and fans alike, but the pandemic has prevented the Melbourne race from being held in recent years. In 2020, the race was even canceled hours before the event started, when we were at the beginning of the pandemic and a lot was still unclear. Two years later we can go wild again on the semi-street circuit of Albert Park.
Whether the race in Melbourne is also loved by Verstappen is an interesting question. The results of the world champion, partly due to not racing here during his way to the world title in 2021, are not really anything to write home about. Verstappen has so far driven five races at Albert Park, of which he was only allowed to climb the podium once.
The very young Dutchman made his debut here in 2015. He qualified in twelfth place with his Toro Rosso, but impressed during the race and looked to be on his way to points in his debut race. However, disaster struck and Verstappen’s Renault-powered car gave up the ghost. A problem that the Dutchman ran into more often, together with Red Bull, later in his career, those lidded Renault engines.
In 2016, Verstappen seemed to be getting revenge for his malaise of 2015. The Dutchman made a big impression by qualifying fifth with Toro Rosso and was even fourth in the early stages of the race, even beating Lewis Hamilton in his Mercedes. In the end, the Dutchman fell during the race, which was startled by a hard bang [inclusief koprol] Fernando Alonso was ‘only’ tenth due to a wrong pit stop by Toro Rosso and he did not hide his disappointment afterwards.
Tough races in Melbourne
In 2017, Verstappen’s Red Bull was clearly behind the Ferraris and Mercedes in the season in which you could almost blindly fill in fifth place for Verstappen before a race weekend, including in Melbourne. Also in 2018, the Dutchman was unable to break any pots in Melbourne. He still qualified fourth, but had to settle for a disappointing sixth place on Sunday.
The last year that it was driven under the Australian sun, Verstappen finally managed to reach the podium. After qualifying, the current world champion still had to tolerate the Mercedes of Hamilton and Valtteri Bottas plus the Ferrari of Sebastian Vettel, but one day later he took the German and was allowed to take the podium in Melbourne for the first time in his career.
Looking for the profit
After an absence of two years, the question now is whether Verstappen can continue towards the highest goal: the victory in Albert Park. The man from Hasselt seems to have started the season well for that. If he wants to take his first victory on the asphalt of Albert Park, he will mainly have to deal with both Ferraris, with Charles Leclerc especially having to be looked at. According to the bookmakers, the Dutchman is in any case the favorite with odds around 2.20. Leclerc is around 2.50 and for a win of Carlos Sainz one gets 9.00 times his bet back.
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