Despite Red Bull keeping a low profile throughout the pre-season, top bookies are still rating Sebastian Vettel as the one to beat in this weekend’s Australian Grand Prix.
Vettel, who has won the last three World Championships, goes to Australia having finished in the top two there in the previous two seasons.
He was also leading in 2010 when a brake failure ended his race prematurely.
Despite the German claiming Red Bull has “never had a winter that was less conclusive than this one,” four-time World Champion Alain Prost still reckons Vettel is the one to beat going into 2013.
“He is still the favourite,” he said. “Behind him, it’s hard to say.”
Bookmakers agree with the former World Champion, who won successive titles in 1984 and ’85, ‘89 and ’93, with Vettel averaging a mean score of 3.4/1 to take the chequered flag at the Albert Park circuit.
The reigning World Champion, who currently has the third highest pole-to-race ratio, is also seen to be as the leading force for Saturday’s qualifying.
Four of the top betting agencies in the world give Vettel a mean score of 3.4/1 to come out on top in Q3.
Red Bull Racing team principal Christian Horner was less sure of a Vettel landslide going into the opening round, admitting that he wasn’t sure Red Bull necessarily had the fastest car on the grid.
“I’m not sure there will be a surprise package among the teams,” Horner told Reuters. “The surprise package this year could be the tyres.”
Pirelli, though, have thrown out the idea of a lottery in the opening rounds and are anticipating “two to three stops” in Melbourne.
First practice for the 2013 Australian Grand Prix begins at 12:30pm local time on Friday, 1:30am GMT.
Sunday’s race will commence at 5pm local time, 6am GMT.
Information about the opening round of the 2013 season can be found here.
Statistics for this story were taken from Betfair, Bovada, Ladbrokes and Betsafe.
All odds are as of 14/03/13, 8:00 GMT+8
All photos in this article are copyright of Mark Thompson/Getty Images.