F1 Odds, Predictions & Picks: 4 Early Bets for Japanese Grand Prix (Sunday, April 7)

F1 Odds, Predictions & Picks: 4 Early Bets for Japanese Grand Prix (Sunday, April 7) article feature image

Eric Alonso/Getty Images. Pictured: Fernando Alonso of Spain and Aston Martin

Check out the F1 odds and Japanese Grand Prix predictions and picks for the race on early Sunday morning, April 7.

If you want to tune in for this classic race on Sunday morning (1 a.m. ET, ESPN2), keep in mind the difference in time zones. Sunday's race in Suzuka will actually air live on Saturday night for much of North America.

In the previous F1 race in Australia, we finally got a non-Red Bull winner. It took Max Verstappen’s brakes catching on fire, but Carlos Sainz outran the rest of the field and took home the victory.

Ferrari seems to have a well-balanced race car entering the F1 Japan Grand Prix this weekend, but I wouldn’t count on them being able to match Verstappen on the regular. Red Bull will be bringing a major upgrade package for Sunday's race. While there’s a chance this leads to improvement, there is also a chance this "upgrade" could be a flop, leaving the door open for others to take advantage.

(Odds via DraftKings. Bet on the F1 Japanese Grand Prix with our DraftKings bonus code.)

Suzuka is a track that is tough on tires, but temperatures will be lower than normal this week, so tire wear will likely be less of a factor than usual.

Rain could play a role in the F1 Japanese Grand Prix, as well. There's a 40% chance of rain on Sunday, but as of right now, the forecast calls for this system to be cleared out prior to the start of the race. If the rain remains longer than expected, though, that could potentially add some variance to the race.

Here are the F1 odds for Sunday's Japanese Grand Prix race winner, as of Thursday:

  • Max Verstappen: -500
  • Sergio Perez: +1200
  • Charles Leclerc: +1400
  • Carlos Sainz Jr.: +1400
  • Lando Norris: +2200
  • Oscar Piastri: +3000
  • Lewis Hamilton: +3500
  • George Russell: +3500
  • Fernanda Alonso: +6500
  • Lance Stroll: +15000
  • Yuki Tsunoda: +30000
  • Nico Hulkenberg: +30000
  • Alexander Albon: +30000
  • Valtteri Botas:  +40000
  • Kevin Magnussen: +40000
  • Daniel Ricciardo: +40000
  • Pierre Gasly: +50000
  • Zhou Guanyu: +50000
  • Esteban Ocon: +50000
  • Logan Sargeant +70000

F1 Odds: Japanese Grand Prix Picks & Predictions 

McLaren Matchup Bets

Last week the sportsbooks were not high enough on McLaren, and we were able to take advantage, winning both of our bets on the Papaya squad. This week the odds have adjusted to reflect their place toward the top of the grid, though, as Lando Norris and Oscar Piastri now have the fifth- and sixth-best odds to win.

There are still some attractive matchup options involving McLaren that I like, however. The biggest one is Piastri vs George Russell. 

McLaren’s strength is their ability to corner, specifically in high-speed corners. That will play well through the first sector in Japan, where this will be extremely important. There is also only one DRS zone here, so their relatively high drag won’t be an issue.

These high-speed corners are currently an issue for Mercedes. We saw this on full display as Lewis Hamilton was trying to chase down Norris at Jeddah and lost a ton of time in the high-speed corners. The gap between these two teams last week was high even before the double DNF for Mercedes. 

I don’t think this matchup will be particularly close. Barring some unforeseen issues, Piastri should be well clear of Russell this weekend in the superior car.

The second McLaren matchup I like maybe isn’t as certain, but that is reflected in the odds already. I know that Carlos Sainz looked fantastic last weekend, but I can’t help but think that he is being priced too favorably compared to Lando Norris.

Ferrari appears to be the closest competitor to Red Bull right now, but Suzuka should be so well-suited to McLaren’s strengths that I believe that they have a chance to be the second-best team on the grid this weekend. I wouldn’t go as heavy on this matchup as I would with the Piastri one, but I do think Norris provides good value against Sainz at +125.

The Picks: Oscar Piastri Over George Russell (-200 at BetMGM) | Lando Norris Over Carlos Sainz (+125 at BetMGM)

Fernando Alonso vs. Lewis Hamilton

We’ve already discussed Mercedes’ woes in high-speed corners and their difficult start to the season. Unfortunately for them, it appears that this improvement may take a while.

Upgrades will be mentioned often this weekend. A handful of teams will be bringing their first set of new parts to the track this season. Aston Martin is one of these teams that will bring upgrades to Suzuka in hopes of improving their performance going forward, which was an issue for them in 2023.

Alonso and Russell had similar race pace in Australia, but this track lacked the same types of corners on which Mercedes most struggles. I think that Mercedes will really be feeling these issues in the first sector and will be battling to remain in the points positions this weekend.

I was on the other side of this matchup in Australia, unfortunately. This time, at plus money, I like taking Alonso to beat out Hamilton in what I believe will be a superior car.

The Pick: Fernando Alonso over Lewis Hamilton (+105 at BetMGM)

Mid-Pack Value on Sauber

This line doesn’t make a ton of sense to me. Sauber isn’t typically a super competitive team, but none of the teams in the back half of the pack has really differentiated itself from the others this season.

Haas has garnered the best results, but this has come from having a low-drag car that excels on long straights. They won’t have that to fall back on this weekend.

Alpine’s new concept for 2024 has not yet worked, and they have been the worst car on the grid this season. While they are bringing some upgrades, these are expected to be minor and likely won’t be enough to vault them into the top of this group.

Last season Williams had their top-end speed to fall back on, but that has been missing so far this season. They are dealing with a lack of parts right now, and I wouldn’t expect any material change from them this weekend.

The Racing Bulls have had some respectable performances, but this is mainly coming from Yuki Tsunoda as Daniel Ricciardo has been a drag on the team so far. They are the favorites in this group, but they probably shouldn’t be at -120, where they are now.

This all brings me to Sauber, which is +1400 to be the race-winning car among the bottom-five teams. Among this group, Valtteri Bottas was behind only Yuki Tsunoda in Australia in terms of race pace with not much of a gap between any of these teams. In Saudi Arabia, both Zhou and Bottas trailed just the Haas cars and Albon in race pace.

I don’t think that this is a slam dunk, but for 14/1, I think it’s a great value. Sauber isn’t one of the highest-performing teams, but the gap is small enough here that they should probably be closer to +600 in this group.

The Picks: Sauber Winner Without Red Bull, Ferrari, McLaren, Mercedes, and Aston Martin (+1400 at DraftKings)

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