Max Verstappen a solid bet to start F1 title defense with win

What a gap System One race we had in Bahrain, made even higher by a constructive lead to our column.

Ferrari completed 1-2 as Charles Leclerc notched a victory whereas Carlos Sainz completed second. The drama got here in third place although after Sergio Perez spun out on the ultimate lap of the race to provide Lewis Hamilton a podium and, most crucially, turned a sure-fire loser right into a winner.

Now we flip our consideration to Saudi Arabia for the second race of the calendar and one other trio of greatest bets:

Max Verstappen Race Winner (+120 at BetMGM)

It was a disappointing begin to Verstappen’s world championship protection at Bahrain after the Dutchman’s engine failed on the second-to-last lap, resulting in a retirement and nil factors.

However, I’m selecting to give attention to the positives from that race and the early apply ends in Saudi Arabia. Verstappen was nearly on-par with Leclerc in Bahrain and (very briefly) stole the lead from Ferrari’s high driver.

Max Verstappen celebrates his System 1 championship.
Getty Pictures

That shut battle transitioned to the apply periods in Saudi Arabia on Friday as Verstappen was solely one-tenth of a second slower than Leclerc in every of the primary two apply periods.

Verstappen notched a P2 end in every apply session and has good monitor historical past right here. In final 12 months’s inaugural Saudi Arabian Grand Prix, Verstappen completed in P2, almost six seconds away from third place regardless of coming in 21 seconds behind victor Lewis Hamilton.

The final issue price contemplating is Verstappen’s success final season on avenue circuits. Though there have been solely three such tracks on final 12 months’s calendar, Verstappen posted a top-two end in two, together with a race victory at Monaco.

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As long as you’re getting Verstappen at +105 or higher, I believe you’re getting some worth on the Pink Bull chief. To me, this race is a 50/50 proposition between Leclerc and Verstappen, so there’s a little bit of an implied likelihood edge right here.

Esteban Ocon Prime-10 End (-130 at FanDuel)

Actually not the sexiest guess within the numerous markets, however I believe this value is an absolute steal.

Ocon posted a P4 end at this race final 12 months and, like Verstappen, has an excellent factors file on the avenue circuits. At Monaco, the Alpine consultant claimed a P9 end whereas automotive troubles resigned him to a DNF in Baku, the third and remaining avenue circuit on final 12 months’s calendar.

Esteban Ocon
Esteban Ocon
Getty Pictures

Up to now this season, Ocon has confirmed a spectacularly common driver. He’s actually not going to contend for a podium, however posted a stable P7 end within the opening race at Bahrain.

Additional, his apply periods in Saudi Arabia counsel Ocon is as soon as once more primed to be within the factors. He completed P8 in each of the opening two apply periods and ran nearer to P6 than to the P11 within the second apply.

With that in thoughts, anticipate a factors end come Sunday.

Sergio Perez Podium End (+220 at BetMGM)

Save the boldest for final as they are saying, proper?

It’s actually a nerve-racking expertise to step in entrance of Carlos Sainz this fashion, however I’ve been actually impressed by Perez within the early portion of the season. Whereas it’s actually a small pattern, he was on his strategy to a podium end in Bahrain earlier than his automotive failed him.

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In truth, in case you measure each Perez’s and Sainz’s quickest sections, the Pink Bull driver was simply barely over two-tenths behind the Ferrari. Plus, as we noticed within the first race, we all know the Pink Bull vehicles are considerably quicker than the 2 Mercedes autos, which ought to give Perez a major benefit over his opponents on a avenue circuit.

Plus, though Perez recorded a DNF on this race final 12 months, he has good historical past on the different avenue circuits. He gained in Azerbaijan and posted a P4 end in Monaco.

Given all of the positives related to Perez, I’d play this explicit market right down to +175.

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