Mercedes' British driver Lewis Hamilton are seen in the pits
Mercedes' British driver Lewis Hamilton are seen in the pits during the qualifying session of the 2021 Formula One Grand Prix of Russia at the Sochi Autodrom race track in Sochi, Russia, Saturday, Sept. 25, 2021. The Russian Formula One Grand Prix will be held on Sunday. (Yuri Kochetkov/Pool Photo via AP)

F1 Racing – Russian Grand Prix Best Bets

Patrick Werkmeister

Following another vastly entertaining race in Italy two weeks ago, more sparks are destined to fly in Sochi after an exciting qualifying round. With the scary crash that happened between Max Verstappen and Lewis Hamilton, McLaren was able to pull out a rare one-two finish at Monza led by Daniel Ricciardo. They will be looking for a similar outcome after their excellent qualifying results where driver Lando Norris made pole position. There should be a lot of movement in the standings for both the drivers’ and constructors’ championship by the end of this one. Here’s what I like in this race among this unusual starting grid.

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Lewis Hamilton to Win (-135)
During a rainy Q3 session, Lewis Hamilton was able to qualify 4th on the grid for Sunday’s race. After an unfortunate slide on the track, Hamilton was unable to get the position he wanted. However, he did show extreme quickness in normal conditions where he had the second fastest lap in P2 behind his teammate. For tomorrow, he’ll be a full 3 spots ahead of Bottas, giving him an advantage over the second fastest car on the track. Team Mercedes once again showed superiority on the course in Sochi dominating from FP1 up until Q3, where they had difficulties on the wet surface. Despite the slip up, Lewis looked comfortably quicker than the rest of the field on the intermediate tires that most drivers will presumably use for the race. The three-spot grid penalty given to his main competitor, Max Verstappen, will also further aid Lewis to victory. It will be his race to lose with 3 inferior cars in front of him, so it would be somewhat unwise to bet against this outcome. Put your money on Lewis to take back his number 1 spot on the grid and in the drivers’ standings by the end of this one.

Lando Norris Podium Finish (-115)
After excelling in the rain during qualifying a few weeks ago at Spa, it came as no shock when Lando put on a strong performance during the wet conditions at Sochi. He was able to capitalize on the critical error made by Lewis Hamilton and notched an outstanding last lap to secure pole position. This will be his first career start from the top, but he’ll have his hands full with Mercedes and Ferrari on the prowl in that first line. He and his McLaren teammate Daniel Ricciardo will be in direct competition with Ferrari and its drivers as their battle for 3rd heats up coming into the home stretch. Although I don’t think Lando and McLaren will have enough to replicate their performance last week, they have a tremendous opportunity to at least get a podium with Norris on pole. He will be pushing all race, so take him and his rocket ship to stay within the top 3.

Max Verstappen Fastest Lap (+270)
With Red Bull’s Max Verstappen starting in last place in this race, he will have to push his car harder than he normally does. This is due to a three-spot grid penalty for his wreck with Hamilton in Monza. His car will be in prime condition Sunday after having sustained no wear and tear by not participating in qualifying. He is a very quick driver behind the wheel of a pretty fast car, so he should have a high finish despite his starting position. There will be added pressure on him to get ahead early and keep his pace as fast as possible, which will eventually lead to the day’s fastest lap. Bet him to absolutely fly around this track and have the fastest on the course.

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