[F1 Form Guide: Qatar Grand Prix
Verstappen could actually win the World Championship without even starting the race on Sunday – to do so, all he needs to do is finish sixth or higher in Saturday’s Sprint Race, no matter what happens to Perez.
There will be no slowing down for the Dutchman, however, as he seeks to keep the records tumbling this season. But the question is with limited data from just one previous race, who will master the set-up to get podiums and points?
The fast, flowing circuit is filled with medium to high-speed corners that should suit Red Bull. They reward drivers with good rhythm, but heavy loading on tyres could hamper teams that suffer more with tyre degradation in the race.
The circuit also experiences changeable winds and, coupled with the desert dust, they could make things more challenging and unpredictable, particularly in qualifying when mistakes are likely to be costly.
Verstappen was utterly dominant in qualifying at Suzuka, setting a time more than half a second faster than his closest rival, Oscar Piastri. However, his focus could be more on the Sprint, as he will want to win the title as soon as possible.
If he does miss out on pole, McLaren’s strong form suggests they could be there to pick up the opportunity – and that shows in the odds, with Lando Norris at 8/1 for pole and Piastri at 11/1.
The two Ferrari drivers, who have secured three of the last five poles, are at 10/1 while Hamilton, who took pole on F1’s last visit to Qatar in 2021, is surprisingly good value at 39/1, with similar odds to top the Sprint Shootout.
Max Verstappen, Red Bull Racing RB19
Photo by: Red Bull Content Pool
Red Bull has won all three Sprints so far this season, and their odds of another as a team are 9/50. However, Piastri was second at the last Sprint event and the odds are 32/5 for either McLaren to win the short race, with Piastri at 16/1.
MAIN RACE CHALLENGERS
The odds for another Verstappen win – which would be number 16 of the season if you count his two Sprint races – are 11/50 for the main race (he is 1/4 to win the Sprint) and his dominance has lengthened the odds for any other driver.
Norris has been second four times in the last seven races and the odds of him going one better in Qatar are 12/1. Even better odds can be found at Ferrari, where Charles Leclerc is 23/1 and Carlos Sainz 27/1.
A podium spot for either Leclerc or Sainz is 7/2 and 4/1 respectively, and those are decent odds considering Sainz finished first and third in the last three races and Leclerc was fourth behind Verstappen and the McLarens at the last race.
Competition for the top six places is currently strong, with McLaren now firmly in the mix alongside Red Bull, Ferrari and Mercedes. Aston Martin’s season-opening form has faded, but Fernando Alonso can still get up there.
Hamilton is the most consistent scorer other than Verstappen and has finished in the top six places in all but one race this season. His odds are 2/5 to claim a top six again this weekend.
Aston Martin has become less fancied in recent races, despite Alonso having two seconds and a fourth in the last five races. As a result, he is 9/1 for a podium, 2/1 for a top six and 1/4 to finish anywhere in the top ten.
To get better odds for a top-10 finisher, look at Kevin Magnussen. He has been 10th three times, including most recently in Singapore, and he has decent value odds of 10/1 to achieve that again in Qatar.
Pierre Gasly, Alpine A523
Photo by: Steven Tee / Motorsport Images
The other three-time 10th place finishers are Alpine’s Pierre Gasly, Valtteri Bottas of Alfa Romeo Stake and AlphaTauri’s Yuki Tsunoda, but they are 18/25, 9/2 and 7/2 respectively.
Verstappen won by almost 20 seconds in Japan – one of the bigger margins of the season. The odds of the winner in Qatar finishing 12 or more seconds ahead of the rest is 33/50, while it is 33/10 to be less than six.
Red Bull is winning the race in the pits as well as on the track, holding the fastest two pit stop times (1.98s and 2.01s). They have claimed five of the top 10 best times across the season, while McLaren has three and Ferrari two.
At the last race in Suzuka, however, Ferrari achieved the two fastest pit stop times with Red Bull down in eighth. The Italian team is 3/1 to do so again, compared to Red Bull’s odds of 18/25.
NOTE: Odds correct at time of writing