Are you confident that Red Bull’s poor performance in Singapore was just a blip? Oddsmakers are leaning that way.
Max Verstappen’s fifth-place finish at the Singapore Grand Prix is doing nothing to diminish his status as the heavy favorite to win the Japanese Grand Prix (1 a.m. ET Sunday, ESPN). Verstappen is -350 to get his 13th win of the season after Ferrari’s Carlos Sainz deployed some great tire management to lead every lap in Singapore for the second win of his career.
Verstappen clinched his second world championship in Suzuka a season ago over a rainy weekend. The race was just 28 laps because of rain as Verstappen beat teammate Sergio Perez by 27 seconds.
Perez’s odds are second-best this year. Perez is the No. 2 favorite at +1100, while Lando Norris is the No. 3 favorite at +1400 and Lewis Hamilton is at +1600.
If you’re willing to gamble and bet on a driver who isn’t Verstappen in Japan, you should wait to do so after qualifying. It’s unclear just how much a new F1 technical directive hurt the Red Bull cars in Singapore — or even if it had anything at all to do with the team’s performance. The FIA said at Singapore that it was cracking down on body parts that can flex based on aerodynamic pressure.
Red Bull also couldn’t settle on what floor parts it wanted for its cars in Singapore as both Verstappen and Perez struggled for stability through the corners. The performance of the team’s floor has been key to its success so far in 2023 but negatively impacted both drivers’ performance over the weekend at the street circuit.
Here are some bets that we like ahead of the race weekend. All odds are from BetMGM.
Both McLaren drivers to score points (-250)
Oscar Piastri was seventh in Singapore despite not having the same upgrades on his car that Norris did. He’ll have those upgrades in Japan.
Carlos Sainz to finish in the top 6 (-225)
Seven drivers have odds of -225 or better to finish in the top six, so there’s not too much value here. But we’re going with the most recent winner to keep riding high.
Max Verstappen to post the race’s fastest lap (-125)
If this is a straightforward win for Verstappen, the only risk is that a driver pits late for a set of soft tires.
Esteban Ocon to finish ahead of Pierre Gasly (-120)
We were looking really good for Ocon to finish in the top 10 at Singapore before a mechanical issue brought his day to an early end and changed the complexion of the race for the frontrunners. Ocon was ahead of Gasly at the time and we think he actually finishes ahead of his Alpine teammate in Japan.
Lewis Hamilton to finish in the top 3 (+175)
Verstappen is a staggering -700 to finish on the podium, while Perez is -140. After that, it’s a crapshoot with five drivers between +150 and +250. We thought about going with both Hamilton and Verstappen to finish in the top three, but at +200, there’s not much added value there.