Qatar Grand Prix 2023: Verstappen favored for another sweep at Lusail

Red Bull, Verstappen looking for first win at the new addition to the F1 calendar

After a frantic four races in five weeks, the Formula 1 world championship comes to Qatar after a week off. Two-time defending champion Max Verstappen swept pole position, fastest lap, and victory in Japan for the fourth time this season. Verstappen’s totaled 13 wins so far with six races left in 2023, starting this weekend at the Lusail International Circuit. It’s just the second edition of the race in F1 history, and Verstappen’s favored for his first win at that track in the Qatar Grand Prix 2023.

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Verstappen favored, as usual to continue his dominance in 2023

The Singapore Grand Prix offered teams and fans a break this year, with someone besides Red Bull earning a win. That returned to normal in Japan as Verstappen won by nearly 20 seconds over McLaren’s Lando Norris.

This week, Verstappen’s favored again at -450 for the win. The Lusail International Circuit is front-limited due to faster corners, similar to Japan’s challenging turns. This plays well into Red Bull’s hands. The car’s been stellar at front-limited circuits like Saudi Arabia, Miami, and Zandvoort. This race is once again Verstappen’s race to lose, as it’s often been on the Formula 1 schedule 2023.

If Verstappen suffers contact or a car failure that takes him out of the race, Norris (+1000) is next in odds. He’s a good backup choice for victory, given how strong the McLaren looked in Japan amid another update package.

Pole position and podium odds for the Qatar Grand Prix

Verstappen’s the favorite at -275 for pole position. The Red Bull’s had less pace in qualifying this year, but that’s often been at rear-limited circuits, including Monza and Azerbaijan. They won’t likely find similar trouble in Qatar, given the track characteristics, but if they do, either McLaren looks like a good choice. Oscar Piastri (+1100) got the best of Norris (+800) in qualifying in Japan and could do so again.

Oddsmakers like a podium of Verstappen (-700), his teammate Sergio Pérez (-165), and Norris (-150). Pérez had a bizarre Japanese Grand Prix that included unretiring the car to avoid a penalty this week in Qatar. He’s made the podium just four times in the last 11 races. Each podium has been at a more rear-limited track. He finished third in Austria and Hungary and second in Hungary and second in both Belgium and Italy.

Instead of Pérez, consider Piastri (+150) for his second consecutive podium, as well as Mercedes’ Lewis Hamilton (+275). Hamilton won the first edition of this race in 2021 and had a good outing in Japan. The Mercedes’ lack of straight-line speed may be a problem on Lusail’s long front straight, but he could put together a weekend to keep close behind the McLarens.

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Qatar Grand Prix 2023 points finish odds and others to consider

Oddsmakers have 11 drivers favored for points finishes: Verstappen (-1400), Norris (-800), Pérez (-800), Piastri (-700), Charles Leclerc (-600), George Russell (-600), Hamilton (-600), Carlos Sainz (-500), Fernando Alonso (-400), Esteban Ocon (-140), and Pierre Gasly (-140).

This group includes all of the points finishers from last week in Japan plus Pérez, who did not finish. It’ll likely be a similar result in Lusail, given the relatively identical high-speed corners favoring the same F1 teams. If anyone’s to drop out of the points results, either Ocon or Gasly seems likely, given Alpine’s reliability issues of late. Look for Alexander Albon (+150) to push for a points finish. He’s finished well in other front-limited or high-speed circuits including eighth in both Great Britain and Netherlands. This and the next Formula 1 race in Austin, Texas, will be an excellent chance for him to earn some points for Williams.

Eight drivers are favored for a top-six result: Verstappen (-1200), Norris (-500), Pérez (-500), Piastri (-400), Hamilton (-250), Leclerc (-225), Russell (-225), and Sainz (-200). If anyone’s to drop out of the top six, it’ll likely be Russell and/or the Ferrari duo of Leclerc and Sainz. Alonso (+200) could see a bounce-back performance here and may grab that sixth-place result.

Qatar Grand Prix 2023 predictions

The second-ever Qatar Grand Prix comes during a much less exciting season than the inaugural race in 2021. Lusail International Circuit’s high-speed, flowing corners will look great under the lights in Formula 1’s second-to-last night race of the season.

But it’ll likely be more of the same this weekend. Verstappen looks unstoppable after the Singapore blip, especially at a track that favors his car. Look for him to sweep the win and pole position. We like a repeat podium from Japan with Norris and Piastri filling out the rostrum. For some slight surprises, we like Alonso to finish in the top six and Albon to make the top 10.

For F1 betting odds analysis, and more, visit Point Spreads Sports Magazine.

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