Formula 1 Monaco betting preview: The most glamorous race on the circuit is back

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MONTE-CARLO, MONACO - MAY 19: A general view of the harbour during previews ahead of the F1 Grand Prix of Monaco at Circuit de Monaco on May 19, 2021 in Monte-Carlo, Monaco. (Photo by Bryn Lennon/Getty Images)
Welcome to Monaco Grand Prix weekend. (Photo by Bryn Lennon/Getty Images)

Monaco Grand Prix

9 a.m. ET, ESPN

Monaco is back.

The historic grand prix was canceled in 2020 because of the coronavirus pandemic. It was the first time since 1954 that the race hadn't been held. 

And this year, it's on a weekend that may be unfamiliar to many American race fans. The Monaco Grand Prix typically kicks off 1,262 miles of racing with the Indianapolis 500 and Coca-Cola 600 to follow on Memorial Day weekend. But with May having five Sundays and Memorial Day falling on the 31st, Monaco precedes the two big American races by a week. It instead leads into the inaugural NASCAR Cup Series race at the Circuit of the Americas in Austin — a track where Formula 1 has raced since 2012.

If you're looking to bet Monaco this weekend and you aren't a huge F1 fan, make sure you pay close attention to qualifying. Passing is incredibly tough on the narrow street circuit and drivers don't have many chances to move forward. Saturday's qualifying session is just as important as Sunday's race. 

How so? The driver on pole has odds of -550 to lead the first lap of the race at BetMGM. It's a near-guarantee that whoever starts first will be first at the end of the first lap.

Here's a look at some plays to consider for Sunday's race via BetMGM.

Lewis Hamilton to win (+110)

Hamilton is the favorite and is looking for his fourth Monaco win. But you should also wait to bet Hamilton until you see some times from practice on Friday and Saturday before qualifying. If Max Verstappen is faster than Hamilton — and especially if he gets the pole — bet Verstappen instead of Hamilton. The race could very easily be won on Saturday ... unless Mercedes can pull another strategy trick on Red Bull.

Hamilton, Max Verstappen and Valtteri Bottas to finish top three (+160)

This one seems like it could easily have lower odds. Sergio Perez hasn't been as fast as Verstappen in the other Red Bull car and Verstappen and the two Mercedes drivers have shown the most pace so far. If these three drivers qualify 1-2-3 — in whatever order — then this will look tantalizing. And the odds will probably decrease before the race begins. 

Over 16 cars classified (+125)

17 or more cars have been running at the finish of three of the last five Monaco Grand Prix races and 19 cars have been classified in each of the last two F1 races of 2021. Reliability doesn't seem to be an issue for teams so far this season. Let's see if that continues. 

Winning margin under six seconds (-115)

With Hamilton and Verstappen so close — and the chances of a tire strategy game playing out at Monaco being extremely slim — this feels like the right play here. It's hard for drivers to escape from each other at Monaco and traffic will likely play a role in slowing the leader down. 

Sebastian Vettel to finish top 10 (+150)

Vettel is extremely good at Monaco and his luck has to turn around, right? This feels more like a gut play than anything else, but we can't find a good reason to not make a slightly irrational bet like this. 

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