F1 Odds, Expert Picks & Predictions: 2 Best Bets for Austrian Grand Prix (Sunday, July 2)
Dan Istitene/Getty Images. Pictured: F1 driver Lando Norris of Great Britain and McLaren
The F1 weekend calendar has been shifted around this year, resulting in a Friday qualifying for the Austrian Grand Prix race on Sunday (9 a.m. ET, ESPN).
There was a sprint shootout and sprint race on Saturday (10:30 a.m. ET, ESPN) that has no bearing on the grid order for the main event on Sunday. (Max Verstappen cruised to a victory in the Sprint race.)
Friday's qualifying event fortunately took place on a dry track – but also with moderate winds that might have been affecting the driver’s ability to stay on the track. The theme of qualifying this year has been without a doubt driver after driver, lap after lap being marked invalid by the FIA for exceeding track limits.
The Red Bull Ring is a high-speed race course that allows the drivers to full throttle go up the first three straights, and it requires them to maneuver several tight right-hand turns at the end of the lap.
Most of the drivers were struggling to keep their cars between the white lines around Turns 9 and 10 during qualifying, risking the lap time being ruled invalid.
Sergio Perez, the Red Bull Racing second-seat driver, failed to register even one clean lap time during Q2. Each time he was on a flying lap, he was unable to keep at least one tire on the white line and inside the track limits.
By the end of Q2, he was running second fastest behind teammate Verstappen, but each time the lap was reviewed and deemed invalid.
F1 Picks for Austrian GP
McLaren Upgrades Pay Off
Coming into the weekend, McLaren (based in Surrey, England) unveiled their first upgrades to the MCL60 car for the 2023 season. The upgrades include a fully revised floor design, a new sidepod (an aerodynamic component designed to manage the flow of air around the car and reduce the drag force against it), and a newly designed engine cover. The goal is to improve the car's efficiency without sacrificing a drag penalty.
Lando Norris, the young Englishman in his fifth season driving for McLaren-Mercedes, has not had a spectacular season thus far. Through eight race weekends, he is currently sitting in 11th place with only 12 points earned in the World Drivers' Championship.
Norris’ highest finish this season is a sixth-place finish at the Australian Grand Prix after starting 13th on the grid. Norris also has two other top-10 finishes on the season, securing a ninth place at both Azerbaijan and Monaco.
That doesn’t mean he isn’t showing any signs of improvement. Two races ago in Barcelona, Norris qualified third on the grid and followed that up by starting seventh in Canada. Outside of a poor start in the Spanish GP and picking up damage on the opening lap, he has been running well.
On Friday Norris made it easily into Q3 after posting a 1:05.038 in Q2 and a fourth-best 1:04.658 in Q3.
He was only 0.267 seconds slower than Verstappen and will start on the second row of the grid for the second time in three races.
Last year in the Austrian Grand Prix, Norris finished in seventh place. This year, look for Norris to take another step forward and finish inside the top 6. The sportsbooks have this bet at plus-money odds, and I like the value on an upgraded car starting on the second row to hold off the competition.
The Pick: Lando Norris – Top 6 Finish (+180 on DraftKings, 1 unit)
Successful Ferrari Weekend – Part 2
In my pre-qualifying breakdown for the Austrian Grand Prix earlier this week, I opined that Ferrari was due for a successful race weekend, and through qualifying on Friday, it's so far so good for both Ferarri drivers.
Last season, Charles Leclerc qualified second for the Austrian Grand Prix, finishing second in the sprint race and coming back and surpassing Max Verstappen to win the race. Could that happen again this year? It's not out of the question.
Repeating the success from last year, Leclerc finished second in qualifying for the second straight year at this venue.
I like the Ferrari driver to continue his success at this track and to finish on the podium.
These odds feel way too short for the defending champion and front-row starter to not finish in the top three in Austria.