The odds on Valtteri Bottas winning the Formula 1 Drivers’ Championship have been cut from 25/1 to just 4/1 with some bookmakers after his victory on Sunday.
<p>The Finn failed to record a single win last season and he finished a distant fifth in the championship. Teammate Lewis Hamilton picked up 11 victories and romped to the title with two races to spare in the same car, so Bottas was not given much of a chance this year. But he produced a dominant display to win the first Grand Prix of the season at the weekend and he is now being taken very seriously indeed.</p><p>Bottas started second on the Grid in Melbourne, but quickly surged past Hamilton and controlled the race before seized the chequered flag. He turned the airwaves blue with a four-letter statement of defiance over the radio, indicating that he is no longer content to be Hamilton’s mere wingman. His celebration was wild and team boss Toto Wolff was delighted with the attitude he showed.</p><p>“I just remember in his early years in Formula Renault and Formula 3, he was the benchmark and he would destroy everybody,” said Wolff. “Somehow, that was lost last year and when he came back from the winter he said, ‘I’m back.’ I think he rediscovered his joy of driving with his rally outing and mentally remained strong. People didn’t think that he was up for the job, but he answered back in the most dominant way, completely in control of the whole weekend.”</p><h2>Bottas could become Hamilton’s main rival</h2><p>Everyone expected Ferrari to kick on in the off-season and run Mercedes extremely close this season. When they failed to light up Melbourne in practice, speculation raged that they were hiding their pace. Yet the reality could be that the pace is simply non-existent. They were lacklustre throughout the opening weekend, and Sebastian Vettel could only finish fourth, while young gun Charles Leclerc was fifth. Mercedes is now best priced at just 1/2 (1.50) with <a href="https://a.oddsmarket.com/record/v?c=150&a=a710bfac-73c1-4a57-b441-2caf1b9f397b" title="William Hill">William Hill</a> to win a fifth straight Constructors’ Championship and Ferrari has gone out to 2/1 with Paddy Power.</p><p>Bottas finished well ahead of Hamilton, third placed Max Verstappen and both Ferraris in the Australian Grand Prix. The odds on him seizing glory this season have shrunk considerably, although you can still find 6/1 at <a href="https://a.oddsmarket.com/record/v?c=150&a=bf7f64f4-cd67-4904-9b00-6ded1d41fd18" title="Bet365">Bet365</a>. That might make an interesting each-way bet. You will be paid out a third of the odds if he finishes second, meaning you double your overall stake. Hamilton will be desperate to bounce back in Bahrain, and you would still fancy the Brit to win another Drivers’ Championship, but it could well be Bottas and not Vettel that provides the greatest threat to his dominance.</p>