Formula 1 Saudi Arabian Grand Prix betting preview: Lewis Hamilton and Mercedes are big favorites

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  • Lewis Hamilton
    Lewis Hamilton
    British racing driver
  • Max Verstappen
    Max Verstappen
    Dutch-Belgian racing driver

Formula 1’s awesome battle for the championship is heading to a new track for the penultimate race of the season.

Red Bull’s Max Verstappen leads Mercedes’ Lewis Hamilton by eight points ahead of Sunday’s Saudi Arabian Grand Prix (Noon ET, ESPN2). Hamilton has won each of the last two races to close the gap on Verstappen and seems to have the edge entering the race at the new Jeddah circuit.

Mercedes has more engine power and straight-line speed than Red Bull and its Honda engine. That should bode well in Saudi Arabia where drivers are flat out for over 75% of the lap. Take a look at how the circuit drives in the F1 2021 video game and you’ll see just how much time drivers spend on the throttle.

There aren’t too many big braking zones either. That could mean that Sunday’s race turns into a track position affair. That could also be a big advantage for Mercedes. The Mercedes car performs much better in clean air than it does following another car. If Hamilton can get the pole on Saturday, he could drive away from the field on Sunday.

Verstappen, meanwhile, can clinch the F1 title if something goes wrong for Hamilton. Verstappen needs 18 points more than Hamilton to secure the title. If he wins and Hamilton finishes seventh or worse, Verstappen is the champion.

Conversely, Hamilton can tie Verstappen in the standings with a win and a Verstappen second-place. If Hamilton wins the race and gets the fastest lap he’ll earn 26 points to Verstappen’s 18 for finishing second. That would put the drivers on level pegging entering the final race of the season at Abu Dhabi on Dec. 12.

Here’s what you need to know to bet the F1 race weekend. All odds are via BetMGM.

Sergio Perez to finish in the top 6 (-400)

Yeah, these odds are pretty low. But you might as well start your weekend off with what should be a guaranteed return.

Lewis Hamilton to win the race (-225)

It’s been a while since we’ve seen odds this low for a Hamilton win. That’s how bullish oddsmakers are on the combination of the Jeddah track and Mercedes engine. But they’re still worth taking, especially if Mercedes is dominant on Friday and Saturday.

Lewis Hamilton to run the fastest lap (+140)

These odds are high because there’s a chance that Hamilton could outrun everyone so badly during the race that another driver has the chance for a free pit stop late in the race to steal the fastest lap point.

Valtteri Bottas to win Free Practice 1 (+200)

This is a go-to bet of ours but it really makes sense this week given the on-throttle time at the track. Bottas is tied for the second-best FP1 odds with Verstappen. Hamilton is at +160 to win FP1.

Lando Norris to be the top non-Mercedes and Red Bull driver (+250)

McLaren cars run Mercedes engines. Only the Ferrari duo of Charles LeClerc and Carlos Sainz have better odds than Norris among the non-Mercedes and Red Bull set.

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