F1 betting, odds: Can hometown hero Charles Leclerc foil Max Verstappen in Monaco?

Leclerc has finished only one of four races in his home country

·3-min read

F1 descends upon Monte Carlo this weekend for the Monaco Grand Prix, with recent history and the weather forecast pointing toward another Max Verstappen masterclass.

Verstappen, the two-time reigning series champion and 2021 Monaco winner, enters the weekend a +140 favorite for pole, a +125 favorite to win and -300 to finish on the podium, according to BetMGM. Placing any or all of those wagers is likely to make money.

After crashing out of his first two Monaco races, Verstappen has posted an average finish of 4.4. He has won three of the first five races to open the 2023 season. That track record and strong run of form combined with rain forecast for the weekend — Verstappen is imperious in wet conditions — make it difficult to bet against the Dutchman.

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Red Bull driver Max Verstappen, right, of the Netherlands and Ferrari driver Charles Leclerc of Monaco compete in the rain during the Japanese Formula One Grand Prix at the Suzuka Circuit in Suzuka, central Japan, Sunday, Oct. 9, 2022. (AP Photo/Eugene Hoshiko)
Weather is likely to play a factor this weekend in Monaco, where Max Verstappen, right, and Charles Leclerc appear poised for a showdown. (AP Photo/Eugene Hoshiko)

If Verstappen emerges from Saturday’s qualifying on pole, it should be game, set, match. Qualifying is famously vital at Monaco — since 2010, there have been an average of 1.25 lead changes per race, and on five occasions, there haven’t been any. Rain would only exacerbate that.

Native son Charles Leclerc could be the foil, as he has posted the fastest time in qualifying the past two years but has failed to convert either of those into victory. In fact, he has managed to finish his home race only once in four tries at the F1 level. He crashed in the waning moments of qualifying in 2021 while holding the top time and did not make it to the grid. Last year, Ferrari strategy — as it often tends to — doomed the Monegasque driver.

But Ferrari’s and Leclerc’s luck have to change at some point, right? Yahoo Sports Canada’s Nick Ashbourne points to some persuasive data that suggests Ferrari’s qualifying pace and pit lane efficiency could propel them in Monaco.

Betting Verstappen might be too difficult to pass up — pun intended — but here are some alternative bets to consider. Be sure to keep an eye on the forecast and make your bets as close to session start times as possible!

Charles Leclerc to win pole +175

As noted above, Leclerc has shown great one-lap pace around Monaco and also won pole on another street circuit — Baku — earlier in the season. Monaco’s twists and turns could simultaneously negate Red Bull’s straight-line speed advantage and Ferrari’s tendency to drop back in races.

Any car other than Red Bull to win pole +110

Consider this a corollary to the bet above, owing to Ferrari’s one-lap pace and Leclerc’s mastery of Monaco qualifying.

Pole margin 0.251s or more +250

If qualifying is wet, this is worth locking in. In optimal conditions, F1 qualifying margins are razor-thin, but with Verstappen, Leclerc and Lewis Hamilton all being incredible pilots in the rain, one could post a time well faster than their front-row counterpart.

Both Mercedes to finish in the points -200

Hamilton’s average finish in Monaco is 4.5, and George Russell was fifth last year in his first Monaco race in Mercedes machinery. Mercedes also has its first major development upgrade going onto the cars this weekend.

Valtteri Bottas to finish in the points +200

Bottas has a strong track record at Monaco, with an average place of 8.2 in races he finishes there. He was ninth last year in his first season with Alfa Romeo and should be able to match or better that performance this time around with a custom Ferrari power unit.