Ferrari driver Charles Leclerc of Monaco
Ferrari driver Charles Leclerc of Monaco steers his car during the second practice session prior to the Formula One Grand Prix at the Spa-Francorchamps racetrack in Spa, Belgium, Friday, Aug. 27, 2021. The Belgian Formula One Grand Prix will take place on Sunday. (AP Photo/Francisco Seco)

Dutch Grand Prix Best Bets, Sept. 5

After some miserable weather that resulted in a washout at Spa last weekend, F1 main event action finally resumes with beautiful weather at Circuit Zandvoort in the Netherlands Grand Prix. With 10 races left in the season, the tension continues to rise between team Red Bull and Mercedes. Max Verstappen holds a three-point lead over Lewis Hamilton for the Drivers’ Championship, while the Mercedes team is ahead of Red Bull by seven points in the Constructors’ standings. There is not only a lot at stake in this race for these two sides, but there are also many others fighting for a spot on the podium. Following a 2-1 performance in last week’s F1 edition of ‘Best Bets’, here are some juicy plays for this Sunday.  

Max Verstappen to Win (-185)
In Saturday’s qualifying run, Max was able to dazzle the crowd with his quickness in securing pole position. He will be comfortable racing in his home country with an army of fans at his back for Sunday’s race. While Max earned pole position by a slim tenth of a second, Verstappen explained that a DRS technical failure prevented him from being even faster. In the Q2 session prior to Q3, where there was no issue, he was a clear half second ahead of the field. This minor problem will be corrected and tuned up by tomorrow for an even better performance by Verstappen. He’ll need all the help he can get versus Lewis Hamilton, but that very important pole position has been an ultimate advantage for him over his career. Out of 7 pole positions this season, Max has won in 5 of them. Additionally, this track proves difficult for drivers to overtake, so as long as Max gets off to a hot start in the first few laps, then consider him a lock. Take the quickest driver with one of the fastest cars on the grid to keep his position throughout this one.

Charles Leclerc Podium Finish (+220)
Following a disappointing P-6 Q3 placement, Ferrari driver Charles Leclerc will try to manifest the performance he had in the prior run, Q2, where he had the best lap time. The poor strategy by Ferrari for the three qualifying sessions also resulted in a crash by fellow driver Carlos Sainz. At +220, this bet has a mouthwatering value for the position the Scuderia are in. Being ahead of the competition and not having to deal with rival McLaren driver Lando Norris will fare quite well for Ferrari. Lando will be 13th on the grid tomorrow and his partner Daniel Riccardo is only three spots ahead of him. Although team Ferrari is behind McLaren by three and a half-points in the Constructors’ standings, they won’t have to worry about them at this course and will be aiming for a high level performance in this contest. With the tension for third heating up, Ferrari should capitalize on the poor display of their main competitors on Saturday in a clean Sunday drive. I expect Ferrari’s quickest driver, Charles Leclerc, to lead the way by getting off to a hot early start.         

Esteban Ocon Top 6 Finish (+220)
In the last best bet, team Alpine driver Esteban Ocon only has to land in the top 6 for tomorrow’s race. There is also a lot of money to be made on this juicy selection that holds great value at +220. Ocon is no stranger to finishing on the top line, where he finished 1st in Hungary last August. Esteban was able to qualify for a modest 8th spot on the grid for this Sunday but was only two-tenths behind that important 6th spot. In a surprising Q3 result, just in front of Esteban for Sunday is Alfa Romeo driver, Antonio Giovinazzi. All season long Alpine has proved they have the better car than Alfa, so bank on there being plenty of opportunities for him to pass Antonio. Their 3 points are the second worst total among the other constructors. Despite starting 8th tomorrow, he is in a fantastic position for P-6 or higher with the tougher driver he usually competes against being further down the list. If you’re looking for some fun, I’d combine this with Charles podium (also +220) as a hedge.  

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