Formula 1 Odds, Picks & Predictions for Imola: 3 Best Bets for Sunday’s Emilia Romagna Grand Prix
Photo by TPN/Getty Images. Pictured: Formula 1 driver Lando Norris
Formula 1’s off week has passed without incident and now bettors can focus their attention on this weekend’s Emilia Romagna Grand Prix.
Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc (+120) enters as the pre-race favorite for the first of two races in Italy this season. Closely behind is defending champion Max Verstappen (+170), who was forced to retire in Australia as he failed to win points for the second time in three races.
Like Verstappen, we’ll be looking to improve upon our recent outing. Our bets for the Australian Grand Prix finished 1-2 with Daniel Ricciardo coming home a winner in a matchup against Guanyu Zhou.
However, we’re putting those results in our rearview mirror as we continue to seek our first 3-0 result. My best bets for the Emilia Romagna Grand Prix are coming, but first, let’s look at the latest Formula 1 odds for the Emilia Romagna Grand Prix via FanDuel Sportsbook.
Formula 1 Odds for Imola
Formula 1 Picks for Imola
Charles Leclerc to Record Fastest Lap (+160 at FanDuel)
If there’s one thing bettors should know about the two Italian circuits — Imola and Monza — it’s that speed is exponentially rewarded.
That may sound obvious, but the fact remains that at this race last year Lewis Hamilton posted a fast lap of 1:15.484, which is a significantly faster pace than at the three previous tracks this season.
That aside, I think this price on Leclerc to record the fastest lap time is an absolute steal. Ferrari tends to put extra emphasis on races in Italy, so we know they’ll be properly motivated Sunday at Imola.
Additionally, Leclerc has the fastest lap in all three races this season, and chasers really haven’t come close to touching his speed. Leclerc was six-tenths better than Fernando Alonso in Australia, nearly two-tenths better than Max Verstappen in Saudi Arabia and almost a full second better than Verstappen in Bahrain.
Given Verstappen’s present car troubles, I’m not sure there’s anyone who can keep up with Leclerc’s vehicle, which has consistently been the fastest in each of the three races to date.
Add in the relative inconsistency of Ferrari teammate Carlos Sainz Jr. and Hamilton’s Mercedes and I’m surprised you’re not seeing this price closer to +115 or +120.
Lastly, there’s one (potentially meaningless) element to this handicap some might glaze over. Leclerc gave bettors a peak into his psyche in Australia when, nearly 20 seconds up on second place, he was urging his team to go for a new fast lap time.
He already held the fast lap, but that extra emphasis showed us that this element of the grand prix is of high importance to Leclerc.
Lando Norris Top-6 Finish (+195 at FanDuel)
Lando Norris, I am ready for you to hurt me again!
The lead McLaren driver earned points in his second consecutive race two weeks ago in Australia and seemingly has set aside his poor form in the opening Bahrain Grand Prix.
Plus, whereas he qualified P11 at Saudi Arabia and was in the points largely because of some key retirements, the Brit qualified P4 in Australia before settling for a P5 finish in the grand prix.
With that in mind, it appears Norris and McLaren are (pardon the pun) turning the corner. Norris now finds himself at a circuit where he had great success last season and I believe that will continue this weekend.
In the 2021 Emilia Romagna Grand Prix, Norris qualified P7, but ultimately finished P3 while recording the third-fastest lap of the race.
Further, Norris owns a very good track record in Italy overall. Not only was he P3 at Imola last year, but he posted a P2 finish at Monza later in the year.
Pair that with a P4 at Monza in 2020 and a P8 at Emilia Romagna in the same year (he qualified P4 in that latter race, though) and I believe the positives outweigh the negatives.
It’s also somewhat encouraging that Norris has qualified P10 or better in five straight races in Italy, so the risk is somewhat mitigated here. Plus, he was top eight in the past two races in terms of fastest lap, so we can assume McLaren is rediscovering its speed.
Until the drivers ahead of him on the grid show signs of consistency, I’m willing to back Norris at this price.
Carlos Sainz Top-3 Finish ‘No’ (-115 at BetMGM)
Sainz had a rough outing in Australia, spinning out in the early stages of the race on his way to a DNF.
But even before that transpired there were concerning signs. Sainz qualified P9 and steadily declined with each practice session (P1 in FP1, P3 in FP2, P5 in FP3). And, even though he was P3 in two consecutive races before Australia, he doesn’t own the best record in Italy.
In four appearances at Imola and Monza with McLaren and La Scuderia, Sainz has finished P5 or worse in three of those races. The lone time he did finish on the podium came at Monza, meaning he has yet to finish top three at Emilia Romagna.
In the two races last season, he qualified P11 and P6 before finishing P5 and P6, respectively, at Imola and Monza.
Assuming Red Bull can resolve Verstappen’s issues in time for this weekend, I believe that leaves four drivers — Sainz, Hamilton, George Russell and Sergio Perez — battling for one spot on the podium.
Of those drivers, I only have Sainz rated ahead of Russell in terms of their record in Emilia Romagna. Further, although there are concerning factors with each driver, Sainz’s issues may give the most pause as both Hamilton and Perez are trending upward in my mind.
There’s only a sliver of value here based on my numbers — I would have the “no” priced as -125 — but I still think there’s value to be had.