Formula 1 Styrian Grand Prix betting preview: Can Max Verstappen keep Lewis Hamilton at bay?

·3-min read

Styrian Grand Prix

9 a.m. ET, ESPN

While NASCAR runs two races in the same weekend at Pocono Raceway, Formula 1 gears up for the first of two races in two weekends at the Red Bull Ring in Austria.

The Styrian Grand Prix and the Austrian Grand Prix are being run back-to-back as F1 has been forced to adjust its calendar because of the coronavirus. Formula 1 wasn’t able to race in Canada for the second consecutive year and a replacement race in Turkey was canceled not long after it was announced. The schedule shuffle led to three races in three weekends with the French Grand Prix and the two races in Austria.

At the moment, Red Bull Racing appears to have a pace advantage on Mercedes. That should bode well for the team at the track that bears its name.

Mercedes swept the two races at the track in 2020 but the changes F1 made to the cars ahead of the 2021 season have seemed to shift the balance of power back toward Red Bull. Max Verstappen won at the Red Bull Ring in 2018 and 2019 and is tied with Lewis Hamilton as the favorite (+125) to win on Sunday.

Verstappen leads the points over Hamilton — the seven-time champion needs Verstappen to have a mechanical failure or a bad day so he can take over the points lead. And no other driver is close to either in the betting odds. Sergio Perez is the No. 3 favorite for the win at +800 while Valtteri Bottas is at +1000.

If you want to bet the win, we lean toward Verstappen. We’ll explain why below. Here’s a look at our best bets for the race weekend. All odds are via BetMGM.

Both Red Bull drivers to finish top 3 (+150)

If you’re confident that Verstappen will win — or at least finish second — it’s hard not to go with his teammate as part of the top three. Sergio Perez has finished in the top four in each of the last three races and has only one finish outside the top five. We think that he’s going to be faster than Valtteri Bottas this weekend and his ability to save tires will be key.

Sergio Perez to finish top 3 (+100)

This is a no-brainer if you’re going with both Red Bull drivers to finish in the top three. You may want to bet the opposite of this as a slight hedge, but we’re going all-in on the Red Bull drivers for this first weekend.

Pierre Gasly to finish top 10 (-350)

The odds aren’t great here but that’s because of the pace of the Alpha Tauri. Gasly has finished in the top 10 in the last six races. His only failure to finish top 10 came in the first race of the year when he had to retire because of damage.

Lando Norris to finish top 6 (-350)

Did you know that Norris is fourth in the points? Like Gasly, his odds are low. But it’s because he’s finished in the top six in six of seven races. Norris has finished fifth or better in all but one race this year and the Red Bull Ring should suit McLaren’s pace. The team enters the weekend No. 3 in the pecking order behind Red Bull and Mercedes.

Esteban Ocon to finish ahead of Fernando Alonso (+140)

The last two races haven’t been great for Ocon. He had mechanical troubles in Baku and finished a lap down in his home country a week ago. But he finished ahead of his Alpine teammate Alonso in the first five races of the season. With odds like this, it’s a bet worth taking.

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