Red Bull driver Max Verstappen
Red Bull driver Max Verstappen of the Netherlands leaves the pit during qualifying for the Formula One Saudi Arabian Grand Prix in Jiddah, Saturday, Dec. 4, 2021.(Giuseppe Cacace, Pool via AP)


Patrick Werkmeister

For the first time ever from Saudi Arabia from the Jeddah Corniche Circuit, the battle between Mercedes and Red Bull all comes down to this with just two races left. Following a crash Red Bull’s Max Verstappen had in his third and final qualifying run, Lewis Hamilton will once again be at pole position, but Max will still start third for Sunday. While Max still holds a slim lead over Lewis in the drivers’ standings, Lewis has shown Max the championship will not be simply handed to him and he must be able to handle the pressure. With that in mind, here are the best bets and props I love for the Saudi Arabian  Grand Prix.

Max Verstappen to Win (+270)
Although Lewis qualified for pole on Sunday’s grid, with this being a new track, his odds of -270 to win are super inflated and will not be as dominant here. While Lewis bested the competition during Saturday, this will be the first ever grand prix held in Saudi Arabia, so expect things to turn sour for some of these drivers. Despite not getting pole, Max was encouraged by how well he and his car were performing leading up to the crash with Red Bull team principal, Christian Horner, expressing: “It was looking like the lap of the year up until that moment”. Red Bull has significantly caught up with Mercedes’ pace between this weekend and last weekend and looks to build on their lead for the constructors’ championship. At +270, these odds have insane value given his tremendous weekend overall. With Red Bull still slightly ahead of Mercedes in the constructors’ standings, they will be in a perfect position to extend that lead even further. Take Max to bounce back from qualifying and secure the victory.

Pierre Gasly Top 6 Finish (-105)
After putting up another quick performance in qualifying, Pierre Gasly has officially solidified his position as a top driver. While it was a very impressive start for Pierre, he only qualified for 6th on the grid behind all Mercedes and Red Bull drivers. However, he looked like he could outpace anyone on the grid in his refined AlphaTauri. Last time out in Qatar, he was able to put together a modest 10th place performance following an astounding second place performance in qualifying. Now that it’s the home stretch, he is pushing his car to the brink in order to outscore Alpine, where AlphaTauri trails them in the constructors’ standings by 25 points. Although Pierre is behind the most dominant cars with even more quickness behind him; his grid placement should not be a huge factor in the outcome. Due to the fact he has been so consistent recently; I would put Pierre as a lock to be in the top six. Take Gasly to stay within the top six drivers in this one. 

Daniel Ricciardo Points Finish (-185)
While team McLaren didn’t have the most ideal qualifying sessions, Daniel Ricciardo was able to outpace his teammate, Lando Norris, despite starting four spots behind him. The McLaren driver will start behind three inferior cars driven he normally gets ahead of. Although he will be just outside the points to start this Grand Prix, Ricciardo should have no problem gaining a spot vs one of the cars in front. Recently he has shown he can out pace his normally faster teammate Lando Norris whenever he wants. His run in Q1 was two-hundredths of a second quicker than Lando’s, who will start seventh on the grid. If he can outpace the other McLaren, he surely can outpace any other car that isn’t Mercedes or Red Bull. Daniel will be leading an all-out push for McLaren as they hope to keep their podium dreams alive for the constructors’ championship. I certainly like his chances at earning a spot in the points, so you can consider this a virtual lock. Expect Ricciardo to stay efficient throughout the race and not make mistakes while securing a points finish for McLaren. 

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