The controversial, chaotic, and mostly unpredictable Formula One season continues this weekend with the 2021 Russian Grand Prix. The race is slated for Sunday at Sochi Autodrom, where we can expect another exciting battle between Max Verstappen and Lewis Hamilton.
Assuming the title contenders don’t eliminate one another from the race (again), it’s fair to say that one of the two will claim the checkered flag. However, as the 2021 Formula One World Championship season has taught us, you should always expect the unexpected.
Who will win the 2021 Russian Grand Prix, who should you consider betting online, and which driver might upset the odds and prove the doubters wrong? We will look at that and more in today’s free Formula One World Championship betting preview.
Hamilton Expected to Dominate
Lewis Hamilton travels to Russia as the man to beat, with the Formula One betting odds for this weekend showing him as a -165 favorite. Meanwhile, his main competitor, Max Verstappen, is at +450, resulting in the largest price gap we have seen between the two.
The offered betting odds might surprise many; however, there’s a good explanation behind it. In case you have missed it, the last time Verstappen and Hamilton met in Italy, they crashed on lap 26, and both had to retire their cars.
— Formula 1 (@F1) September 13, 2021
The unfortunate situation became far worse for the Red Bull driver, who has been penalized for the Monza fiasco and handed a three-place grid penalty for the 2021 Russian Grand Prix. Although a controversial decision on paper, the stewards ruled Verstappen responsible for the crash, which could have ended far worse than it did.
Red Bull team principal Christian Horner feels like the penalty isn’t as concerning since he believes the Russian Grand Prix would be a challenge for his team regardless.
“It has been a Mercedes stronghold,” said Horner about the Russian Grand Prix.
“For me, Monza and Sochi, I’ve them marked down mentally as Mercedes circuits, so it will be a challenge.
Horner has also noted that Verstappen should be able to overcome the handicap as he did in 2018 when the Dutch driver went from last to first before needing to make his put stop. What’s more, Red Bull was second in Russia last year.
Norris Poised for Another Strong Finish
Lando Norris capitalized on the Verstappen-Hamilton crash and finished the 2021 Italian Grand Prix as a runner-up, behind his teammate, Daniel Ricciardo. It marked yet another excellent performance from the 21-year-old, who is gaining recognition as a future Formula One star.
With his fourth podium finish of the season, Norris is now in a comfortable fourth spot in the 2021 Formula One World Championship standings, with 132 points. The Brit is just nine short of Valtteri Bottas (141) in third and 14 clear of Sergio Perez (118) in fifth.
His points, however, don’t tell the whole story. Besides his four podium finishes, Norris also has six top-5s, while he has landed in 10th or better in all but two races (retired in Hungary, 14th in Belgium) of the season.
Norris has been flying under the radar for a long time, and he continues to be underestimated by online gambling operators. McLaren cars might not be up there with Red Bull and Mercedes, but they’re not that far behind, and with a driver like Norris behind the wheel, another strong finish should be on the cards.
Red Bull has never won in Russia before, and with Verstappen’s penalty, it would be fair to assume that they won’t be able to change that. Still, Verstappen (+450) has a better car this season and has proven that he can overcome handicaps before.
Mad Max will have to step up to win in Russia, but at +450, we don’t have to think twice before placing down a few bucks on him. A three-place grid penalty is a problem, but not as big of a problem as it may seem.
We’re going with Lando Norris (+2500) to claim his fifth podium of the season as our second pick for the 2021 Russian Grand Prix. He is one of the most consistent drivers in the field and an excellent choice for this weekend.
Pick: Max Verstappen to win (+450)
Pick: Lando Norris podium finish (+200)