F1 US Grand Prix Auto Racing
McLaren driver Daniel Ricciardo, of Australia, pulls out of the pits during a practice session for the F1 US Grand Prix auto race at Circuit of the Americas, Friday, Oct. 22, 2021, in Austin, Texas. (AP Photo/Darron Cummings)


Patrick Werkmeister

From the Circuit of the Americas in Texas, Max Verstappen will try to hold on to his six-point lead over Lewis Hamilton. Following impressive qualifying results from both drivers, these two will be first and second on the starting grid, so at some point they could be directly battling it out for position. Although anything can happen during a race, Max is in great shape to build on his lead in the drivers’ championship standings. However, Mercedes continued their dominance in the constructors’ standings with P1 and P5. With that in mind, here are the plays and props I like for this COTA Grand Prix.

Max Verstappen to Win (-150)
With Max going a full two-tenths of a second faster than Lewis Hamilton in Q3, he will have the absolute advantage starting at pole position. Not only that, but Max and Red Bull have been faster than their competitors all weekend from FP1 through qualifying. Max looked quite comfortable on Saturday after he said he was “not worried about what’s happening behind me”, which is a reference to his rival Lewis. With a Red Bull on either side of Lewis’s Mercedes, there’s very little margin of error for him in this one. Verstappen’s running mate Sergio Perez once again looked quick as he will start third on the grid. With this being the first non-Mercedes pole at COTA, Red Bull is bound for a fruitful result.  Take Max to stay focused in this one and secure his first COTA victory.

Sergio Perez Podium Finish (-185)
After being fastest in all practice sessions and Q2, Sergio has had some of his best racing this weekend leading up to Sunday’s Grand Prix. Although it was a very impressive start for Checo, he had the pace to be on pole for this race. He had provisional pole in Q3 until Max really turned up the heat and managed to beat his time. However, they were overall phenomenal performances by the Red Bull drivers. They’ll be set up nicely with both of their drivers up front, since it’s tough being middle of the pack and following cars. Their grid placement allows for little to no risk of adverse effects with another driver. At odds of -185, this prop has tremendous value. Due to his speed and laser focus this weekend and the overall track layout, I would put him as a stone-cold lock to be in the top 3. Take Perez to get a podium where Red Bull should dominate. 

Daniel Ricciardo Top 6 Finish (+100)
While McLaren didn’t have the best qualifying sessions, both drivers looked comfortable getting around the track. McLaren’s Daniel Ricciardo will be starting sixth on the grid after a faster performance than his normally quicker teammate, Lando Norris. Although he will already be in the top six to start this Grand Prix, Ricciardo was only able to be seventh fastest during Saturday’s Q3 session. However, he has shown positive signs this weekend. Both runs he had in Q3 were really close with Ferrari driver Carlos Sainz, who will start fifth on the grid. McLaren is in direct competition with Ferrari where they only have an eight-point lead at the moment going into Sunday. Daniel will be leading an all-out push for McLaren as they hope to keep their podium dreams alive for the constructors’ championship. While this is a value pick, I certainly like his chances at earning a spot in the top 6. Expect Ricciardo to stay efficient throughout the race and not make mistakes while placing in the top 6.  

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