Verstappen Favored for Comeback in Suzuka

2024 Japanese GP Odds Have Verstappen Favored Following Rare Retirement

Someone other than Max Verstappen won a Formula 1 race for only the second time in almost two years. Carlos Sainz Jr. returned from his appendicitis surgery to win the Australian Grand Prix. Verstappen’s mechanical issue with his right rear brake took him out of the race.

It’s a rare sight for the three-time champion to retire from a race and he’ll be keen to get back on track this weekend in Suzuka. He’s the favorite to bounce back quickly and leads the 2024 Japanese GP odds in almost all categories.

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2024 Japanese GP Odds: Favorites to Win

Max Verstappen (-500)

In the last Japanese Grand Prix, Verstappen bounced back from a poor performance in Singapore to take a decisive victory. He swept pole position, fastest lap, and won by nearly 20 seconds. The Red Bull in his hands will thrive at this circuit with its mix of fast and slow corners, esses, and long straights.

There’s no way mechanical bad luck can strike twice in a row for the three-time defending champion.

Sergio Perez (+1100)

Verstappen’s teammate struggled in his stead in Australia and finished fifth after a visor tear-off got stuck in his car. Without that issue, a better result may have been in the cards for the Red Bull driver.

Unfortunately for him this week, Suzuka is one of his worst tracks on the F1 schedule. Last year he was involved in multiple clashes before retiring and then rejoining the race.

It was one of the more bizarre results in recent memory that ultimately saw him finish second to last in the race. It’ll be hard to do much worse than that performance but a win will be tough without some luck.

Carlos Sainz (+1400)

Sainz took control of the Australian Grand Prix following Verstappen’s retirement and won. This week, he’ll be in another good spot for a strong result. The Ferrari’s improvement in 2024 makes them the most consistent challenger to Red Bull. Racing well in Australia bodes well for Japan.

It will be hard given the attitude Verstappen will likely bring this week but Sainz’s shown he can make the most of any situation.

Charles Leclerc (+1400)

Leclerc made it Ferrari’s first one-two since 2022 by finishing second in Australia. He could not match Sainz’s pace but kept clear of the McLarens en route to a second consecutive podium finish.

He’s had limited running in Japan with just four races under his belt. But he has a solid track record, especially in Japanese GP qualifying. He’s started on the first two rows of the grid since coming to Ferrari in 2019.

2024 Japanese GP Odds: Pole position

Verstappen (-200)

Verstappen took pole position in 2023 by more than half a second. This week should be more of the same as the defending champion makes a statement in Suzuka.

Sainz (+500)

Starting second and winning last time out in Australia moved Sainz’s typical odds much higher this week. Ferrari will likely have a quick car but not quick enough to challenge Verstappen.

Leclerc (+500)

It’s a similar story for Leclerc. One of the best qualifiers on the grid can’t overcome the Red Bull-Verstappen combination this week. He has a great shot to start on the front row but the top spot is a big ask.

2024 Japanese GP Odds: Podium finish picks

Oddsmakers favor Verstappen (-900), Perez (-150), and either Sainz (-120) or Leclerc (-120) to make the podium. But few other drivers could take a spot on the top three this weekend.

Lando Norris (+175)

Norris earned his first podium of the season in Australia as the McLaren package looked much better than in the opening rounds. Suzuka should suit McLaren even more like it did last year when Norris and Oscar Piastri, his teammate, finished on the podium. Norris turned things around from a relatively ho-hum start. That could continue this weekend.

Oscar Piastri (+450)

Piastri’s ahead of Norris in the F1 championship thanks to a better finish in Saudi Arabia. His lone Japanese GP results are good. He qualified second and finished third last year. At a much better payout than Norris despite a similar pace this season, Piastri’s a great low-risk, high-reward bet for a podium finish.

2024 Japanese GP Odds: Top-10 finishers

Oddsmakers favor a 10-driver group finishing in the points: Verstappen (-1200), Perez (-800), Sainz (-800), Leclerc (-700), Norris (-700), Piastri (-600), George Russell (-500), Lewis Hamilton (-500), Fernando Alonso (-225), and Lance Stroll (-140). But that group’s managed to lock out the top 10 just once so far this season. Other drivers could break in, such as:

Yuki Tsunoda (+110)

Tsunoda’s seventh-place finish in Australia was his best result since the 2022 Emilia Romagna Grand Prix. The lone Japanese driver on the grid could have another good outing on home soil. Last year, he qualified ninth but finished 12th in the race. His race pace was much improved in Australia compared to the first two rounds and that trend could see him in the top 10 again.

Nico Hulkenberg (+135)

Hulkenberg’s been one of the surprises of the season. Haas had qualifying pace but failed to make the most of it on race day in 2023. That’s not the case in 2024 as Hulkenberg has two points finishes in the first three races. The car performed well in Australia and has every reason to be close to the top 10 again in Japan. A retirement or strategic mistake by one of the favorites easily opens the door for the German driver.

2024 Japanese GP Odds: Predictions

The Japanese Grand Prix is one of the older, classic events that drivers love. It’s a challenging circuit that rewards trust in the car and setup over the weekend.

A challenging circuit like this falls directly into Verstappen’s hands, much like it did in 2023. He’s the pick for pole position and the win.

Joining him on the podium, look for Leclerc to earn another top-three finish and Norris as a surprise spoiler to the Red Bull-Ferrari leading group. Tsunoda also makes it two points finishes in a row with 10th at his home race.

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


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