Formula 1 Odds & Picks: 3 Best Bets for Sunday’s Bahrain Grand Prix
Photo by Dan Istitene – Formula 1/Formula 1 via Getty Images. Pictured: Charles Leclerc driving (16) the Ferrari F1-75
The extended wait is over, we’ve all binged 10 episodes of “Drive to Survive”, and now the first race of the 2022 Formula 1 season has arrived.
Twenty drivers will take to Bahrain on Sunday in the first of a 22-event calendar season. Lewis Hamilton claimed a narrow victory in this race last year, edging out eventual 2021 world champion Max Verstappen by seven-tenths of a second.
But before the lights go out in Bahrain, here are my three best bets for the Sunday’s race, plus odds to win, updated an hour before race time.
|Max Verstappen||Red Bull||+100|
|Carlos Sainz Jr.||Ferrari||+700|
|Sergio Perez||Red Bull||+1600|
|Valtteri Bottas||Alfa Romeo||+6600|
|Guanyu Zhou||Alfa Romeo||+50000|
|Lance Stroll||Aston Martin||+200000|
|Nico Hulkenberg||Aston Martin||+200000|
F1 at Bahrain Betting Picks
*Odds as of Thursday afternoon and via BetMGM
Charles Leclerc Podium Finish (-105)
Preseason testing went really well for Leclerc, particularly in last week’s test at Bahrain.
The Ferrari driver was in the top-three fastest times two out of the three testing days and took nearly a full second off his time from Day One to Day Three.
Further, although I personally place a greater emphasis on the Bahrain results, it’s worth noting Leclerc finished in the top two of Barcelona testing two of three days, including posting the fastest time on Day Two.
In terms of his overall record at this track, there’s reason to have faith in Leclerc.
He managed a podium finish in 2019, his first year with Ferrari. After a disappointing 10th-place finish in 2020, he improved by four spots in 2021 to finish in sixth position.
However, Leclerc began that race in P4.
The other positive with Leclerc? Rarely does he see his finishing position drop from his starting grid position. Last year’s race was the first time in his last four outings at Bahrain that he saw himself finish worse off than he started.
Given his positive testing splits, I expect that you’ll see Leclerc either P3 or P4 to start the race Sunday. From either of those positions, I would have Leclerc’s podium price at nearly -120, so I believe there’s good value to be had with this number.
Lando Norris Top-6 Finish (+125)
Norris had a strong start to last season, including a P4 finish at Bahrain, before a disappointing ending.
All told, though, he finished P6 or better in nearly half of last year’s races and produced some good splits in preseason testing. Norris posted the sixth-fastest time on Day One of testing at Bahrain and, although he came in eighth and ninth on the second and third days, respectively, his overall time improved.
I essentially have the top six coming down to three drivers battling for two positions. You have Mercedes debutant George Russell, Red Bull number two Sergio Perez and Norris. While Pierre Gasly and Daniel Ricciardo could challenge for those spots, I power-rate the latter three ahead.
But, the reason I think you’re getting some value on Norris in the McLaren is there’s still some unknowns as to what Russell looks like in the Mercedes.
The testing results were mixed in Bahrain: 1’35.491 on Day One, 1’38.585 on Day Two followed by 1’32.759 on Day Three, so there’s still a lot to be determined with the Englishman.
As for Norris and Perez, they showed comparable lap times on the two days they both went out, so their head-to-head is really a coin-flip in my estimation. Plus, Norris has the historical edge in terms of on-track performance — two P4’s and a P6 to Perez’s fifth, 10th and a DNF.
I would have this price closer to +100, so I’m showing some value on Norris and would play it to that line.
Lewis Hamilton Podium Finish (-135)
I recognize there’s been a lot of preseason speculation about the Mercedes car, but even this price is way too strong an overreaction.
Hamilton has won this race three years running now and will likely hold some added motivation this time around following the drama at Abu Dhabi.
Rival Max Verstappen has received early money to become the favorite to win the race, but let’s not pretend that there’s a greater than 40% chance Hamilton finishes P4 or worse.
Simply put, Hamilton loves this track.
You’d have to go all the way back to 2013 to find the last time that he failed to finish on the podium at Bahrain.
While there’s definitely concern with the preseason testing results at this track — Hamilton’s best finish was a P4 on Day Two — I’m willing to forgive that given the recent history.
Plus, it’s not as if those testing results aren’t an abnormality. In last year’s testing at Bahrain, Hamilton showed similar results before going on to win the race. If Hamilton puts those concerns to bed by going out and qualifying P1 or P2, I expect you’ll see this price skyrocket to north of -200.
Realistically, I think the worst-case scenario for Hamilton is a P4, but simultaneously think a race victory is within reach.
Lastly, he had only four races last season in which he failed to reach the podium, so I think this price is an absolute steal.
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