Can you remember an F1 season as hard to predict as this? In my book the only dependable thread to have emerged so far is the comparative reliability of Williams cars and Mercedes engines — or so it seems as this is unwisely written, a few hours before first Melbourne practice begins. 

My pal Derek and I have never been men to bet on anything, but we both love grand prix racing and reckon it’s far more far likely than ever before that this year’s world driver’s championship will be won by a long shot. 

On this hopeful but wholly unscientific basis we decided earlier this week to set off for the High Street to invest in some off-the-wall runners from F1’s 2014 field, braving the swing-doors of Ladbrokes to do it.

Just to show a bit of old-time faith in Williams, we opened up with £10 bets on Massa and Bottas to win in Melbourne — before moving to the wholly more serious matter of the driver’s championship. Interestingly, you could only get about 12/1 on Kevin Magnussen (McLaren) to become champ, not vastly better than former title-holder Jenson Button’s sixes, but we both reckoned he still had to be worth a fiver.