F1 Qatar Grand Prix Odds, Picks & Predictions: 2 Bets for Sunday Afternoon’s Race (October 8)

F1 Qatar Grand Prix Odds, Picks & Predictions: 2 Bets for Sunday Afternoon’s Race (October 8) article feature image

Pictured: Lando Norris driving the McLaren F1 Team MCL60. (Photo by Amin Mohammad Jamali/Getty Images)

The second all-time running of the F1 Qatar Grand Prix at the Lusail International Circuit is up next on the Formula 1 calendar with Sunday's race (1 p.m. ET, ESPN).

Two years ago, Lewis Hamilton started on pole and took home the checkered flag, winning his 30th different Grand Prix (102nd overall win) in his illustrious career. Right behind him was Max Verstappen, who came all the way up from seventh on the starting grid. Rounding out the podium was Fernando Alonso, who started and finished the race in third.

Drivers will benefit from fresh pavement in this year’s F1 Qatar Grand Prix as the entire track has been resurfaced. A brand-new pit and paddock complex have also been built since the 2021 race. The Lusail circuit is known for its medium and high-speed corners, and no heavy braking is required around the track.

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Qualifying took place Friday as there is sprint qualifying, followed by a 19-lap sprint race on Saturday. If you are new to Formula 1 or aren’t familiar with the updated sprint race rules this season, the sprint race is now entirely independent of the main race.

During qualifying, it was business as usual for Verstappen. He finished in pole position in dominating fashion and posted the fastest lap times during Q1 and Q3. Verstappen posted a final lap time of 1:23.778 in Q3, 0.441 seconds faster than the Mercedes right behind him.

The entire qualifying session could be defined by high-speed corners, gusting winds and swirling grains of sand on the track. Numerous drivers had lap times deleted due to going outside of the white lines, in no small part due to the winds.

It was another disappointing qualifying session for Red Bull’s number two driver, Sergio Perez. Perez was bounced from qualifying in Q2. He finished with the 13th-fastest lap time and failed to qualify for Q3 for the eighth time this season.

Mercedes will start on the front row next to Verstappen, with George Russell qualifying P2. Hamilton will start right behind him in P3. The one black mark from Q3 was Lando Norris failing to post a valid lap time. He had not one, but two extremely fast lap times deleted by the FIA for exceeding track limits – the last of which would have shot him up to P2 on the grid.

F1 Picks for Qatar Grand Prix

Lando Norris Hat-Trick Top Three

Speaking of Norris’ blunder during qualifying, the McLaren driver will start all the way down in P10. Despite his starting position, I still have confidence in Norris being able to continue his terrific form and jump quite a few cars during the race.

McLaren has flipped the script on their 2023 campaign. Prior to the British Grand Prix, McLaren only accumulated 29 team points in the World Constructors’ Championship over nine total races. Post-British Grand Prix, they have significantly closed the gap on their nearest constructor, Aston Martin. Prior to the results from this weekend’s sprint race and race, Aston Martin is in fourth with 221 team points. McLaren has 172 total team points.

Norris hasn’t finished below eighth place in a race since Silverstone and has four podium finishes over his past eight races.

I like the value of him finishing on the podium on Sunday.

To put some numbers behind this, Norris was right behind Verstappen throughout qualifying. During Q1, Verstappen had the fastest lap time, while Norris was second fastest (1:25.007 to 1:25.131). In Q2, Hamilton went quickest, Verstappen was second and Norris was third. In Q3, Norris would have secured P2 on the grid with a 1:24.074 lap time had it not been for ever so slightly going over track limits and having that lap time deleted.
It is not unprecedented for a driver who starts in P10 to finish on the podium. Last year, Verstappen qualified P10 and won the race at the Hungarian Grand Prix. This season, there have been four drivers that have finished on the podium after starting 10th or lower.

I believe Norris will have another outstanding race, and I believe he has a real chance at securing another podium finish. The plus money is a reflection of him needing to pass seven drivers along the way, but he is in a run of form reflective someone who can achieve such a feat.

The Pick: Lando Norris – Top 3 Finish (1 unit, +160 on BetMGM)

Fading Mercedes on the Front Row

Mercedes had a very successful qualifying as it secured the second and third positions on the starting grid. Russell topped Hamilton in Q3 by just 0.086 seconds and will start on the front row.

Even though he is starting ahead of all but Verstappen, I’m fading Russell both because of his recent form and Hamilton’s strong history at this track. Hamilton has won the only race thus far at Lusail and was the fastest on the grid during Q2 in qualifying. Small sample size, I understand, but it has to be taken into account.

Over the previous eight races, Russell has finished as high as fifth place only twice. His last podium finish came at Barcelona in early June. Since then, he’s finished seventh, fifth, sixth, sixth, 17th, fifth, 16th and seventh. To be fair, both results outside the top 10 included late race crashes.

I am taking the approach of I’ll believe it when I see it when it comes to Russell. Until then, I’m going to fade the young British driver.

The Pick: George Russell – Top 3 Finish? No (1 unit, +100 on BetMGM)

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