Saudi Arabia GP Odds: F1 Returns to Jeddah Under the Lights

Verstappen/Red Bull Dominated in Bahrain, Can They Continue The Trend in Saudi Arabia?

The 2023 F1 season is in full swing after the first round in Bahrain. It mostly followed what many expected after testing.

Max Verstappen and Red Bull led the way comfortably to a 1-2 finish. Fernando Alonso and Aston Martin were the surprise of the weekend in third and set the tone for a much improved season.

Ferrari’s reliability problems continued with Charles Leclerc’s retirement mid-way through the race. News that Ferrari’s head of vehicle concept, David Sanchez, is leaving to join another team compounds the tough week.

One of the biggest surprises was Mercedes team principal Toto Wolff announcing that the team needs to start over with its unique design philosophy. The porpoising and bouncing issues are gone but the lack of pace has remained.

Now, the calendar turns to the streets of Jeddah for the Saudi Arabian Grand Prix. The fastest street circuit on the Formula 1 schedule will be a different test for the teams and drivers and could see a closer field than in Bahrain.

Odds to Win the Saudi Arabian GP

After a strong showing in Bahrain, it’s no surprise Verstappen has the best odds to win at -225. The car looked a step ahead of the rest last week and he won last year’s thrilling duel in Jeddah with Leclerc. Verstappen’s teammate Sergio Perez (+500) is second in odds. He performed well and was within two-tenths of Verstappen in qualifying for Bahrain. He could be a threat on Sunday.

Oddsmakers are taking Alonso’s podium in Bahrain seriously and have him with the third-best odds for a win on Sunday at +800. This is surprising but Alonso showed pace in an Alpine last season in Jeddah before retiring with mechanical problems.

Behind Alonso are the two Ferraris of Leclerc (+1000) and Carlos Sainz (+1400). The gap in pace to Red Bull and Aston Martin in Bahrain was a bit of a shock given how Ferrari looked in testing. But the Sakhir International Circuit is notoriously demanding on tires, especially the rears. Sainz said on team radio that he could’ve pushed harder but he’d ruin the tires and compromise their finish in doing so. They’ll likely be in for a better showing in a much less abrasive track in Jeddah.

Qualifying Odds for The Saudi Arabian Grand Prix

Unsurprisingly, Verstappen (+120) is favored to take his third consecutive pole position dating back to last year’s Abu Dhabi Grand Prix. Leclerc’s right behind him at +225 followed by Perez at +550. Oddsmakers look to prefer Alonso (+700) over Sainz (+1100) for pole as well.

Odds for a podium finish

Verstappen (-500), Perez (-225), and Alonso (-120) are all favored to repeat on the podium again. Leclerc has even odds and is followed by Sainz at +300.

Good value choices here could be Mercedes’ Lewis Hamilton (+350) and George Russell (+400). Alonso’s teammate Lance Stroll (+600) showed good pace in Bahrain despite racing shortly after injuries to both wrists and a toe.

Odds for a Top-10 finish

Verstappen (-700), Perez (-500), Leclerc (-450), Sainz (-450), Alonso (-500), Russell (-500), Hamilton (-500), and Stroll (-350) are all heavily favored to finish in the top 10. The Alpine duo of Esteban Ocon (-140) and Pierre Gasly (-140) round out the sportsbook’s favorites to get points in Saudi Arabia.

Next best would be Valtteri Bottas (+110) and his Alfa Romeo teammate Guanyu Zhou (+150). Zhou is tied with McLaren’s Lando Norris (+150) in odds for a points-paying finish.

Saudi Arabia GP predictions

It’s hard to bet against the Red Bull package. It looked fast in all areas of Bahrain and reliable but that race may not be the tone-setter for the 2023 season.

If you’re looking for a good payout, we like either one of the Ferraris for pole position. Yes, Verstappen was nearly three-tenths clear of Leclerc in Bahrain qualifying but the track will be more suited to the Ferrari’s strengths. It could be a rallying weekend for the team after a rough week of news. Of the two, we like Leclerc, but Sainz is a great street track racer.

For the outright win, it’s hard to bet against Verstappen. The Red Bull’s characteristics plus his skill is a tough challenge. But the nature of the fast, narrow track will likely lead to at least one safety car period. That could jumble up the order in unexpected ways. Perez has a history of performing well in those scenarios, like coming from 20th place to take his first win in 2020 and taking a podium in Azerbaijan in 2018 after starting eighth. Getting a bigger payout while betting on the best car could be more lucrative.

Podium-wise, Perez, Leclerc, and Verstappen in some order seems like the most likely scenario. If there is a late safety car or surprise retirements, Sainz and Hamilton make for nice payouts.

The best top-10 surprises for this weekend are likely Bottas and Zhou. Bottas looked solid in Bahrain and raced well in last year’s Saudi Arabian Grand Prix. Look for either Alfa Romeo driver to make it to a points finish. Beyond that, Alex Albon (+240) could make it consecutive points finishes in the Williams. The car looked solid in Bahrain and he’s earned a reputation for making the most of opportunities. A safety car could provide him that opportunity this weekend.
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