After a dramatic turn of events in Brazil, the 2021 Formula One World Championship heads to Qatar for the first Qatar Grand Prix. The race is slated for Sunday on Losail International Circuit, known for hosting MotoGP races.
2021 Qatar Grand Prix Betting Preview
The 2021 Qatar Grand Prix will mark the 20th race of the season and likely the race that will heavily dictate how the battle for the title will go. With 14 points separating Lewis Hamilton and Max Verstappen, a poor run in Qatar could spell disaster for either.
Despite all the question marks, the online betting sites have Hamilton priced as the favorite (-135) over Verstappen (+150) on the Formula One odds for this weekend. As per usual, Valtteri Bottas (+1400) and Sergio Perez (+1600) are well behind, with Charles Leclerc and the rest priced at +5000 and above.
Extraordinary Brazilian Grand Prix
Last weekend’s Brazilian Grand Prix truly was a treat for Formula One fans and yet another testament to Hamilton’s quality as a driver. The Brit came back from qualifying disqualification and a power unit grid penalty to win the race and reduce the gap at the top of the Drivers’ Championship to only 14 points.
It’s more than fair to say that not many believe Hamilton could overcome the massive disadvantage, but as the 2021 F1 season has taught us, you should always expect the unexpected. It was a satisfying win for the Silver Arrows and Mercedes’ boss Toto Wolff, who has had plenty to say following another incident between Hamilton and Verstappen.
Hang this in the Louvre. 😂 pic.twitter.com/Xk9Ah6L8pB
— Mercedes-AMG PETRONAS F1 Team (@MercedesAMGF1) November 14, 2021
Whether you believe Verstappen should have been penalized for the incident on lap 48 comes down to which side you support. But if you’re a Mercedes fan, you could say that justice was served on Autódromo José Carlos Pace, which gave birth to one of the most memorable pictures of the 2021 season, courtesy of Wolff.
“That was just friendly hello at the race director,” said Wolff on his celebration.
The race ended with Hamilton claiming his sixth win of the season, Verstappen in second, and Valtteri Bottas in third. Verstappen’s teammate, Sergio Perez, landed in fourth, while Charles Leclerc claimed his fourth consecutive top-five finish.
Hamilton with Momentum on His Side
Momentum in sports is not to be underestimated, as it’s an essential component of any success story. And while it was Verstappen who has had it for most of the season on his side, it’s fair to say that momentum has now shifted in favor of the seven-time world champion, Hamilton.
For a good portion of the season, many F1 fans believed that this might be the year when Red Bull would take the Constructors Championship title away from Mercedes and that Verstappen would be the driver to break Hamilton’s streak of four back-to-back championship titles. But now, it’s fair to start questioning that.
Admittedly, Verstappen is still an excellent driver, and Red Bull still has a great car, but the difference between the two rival teams might not be as great as it initially appeared. Even though it’s true that Red Bull seemed faster for most of the season, Mercedes suddenly found the pace and looked much faster than the Honda-powered engines in Brazil.
While we don’t know how the drivers and the cars will perform in Qatar, the track seems like it could suit Mercedes better. That is largely due to its high-speed corners and long straights, which traditionally serve Mercedes better.
There is no way of telling what will happen next weekend, and we don’t have a crystal globe to look into the future either. But on paper, Mercedes should be favorited.
An Unknown Track
Analyzing the track, its features, and how will it suit a particular driver is essential for any successful Formula One betting endeavor. And it is that much more important when we talk about a track that has never before been used for an F1 race.
Those who are following MotoGP should be familiar with Losail Circuit, yet many F1 won’t. But before we look at the track, there is one more thing to keep in mind.
The Qatar Grand Prix will be one of the four races to be held in the evening, meaning the track temperatures will be much different from the usual afternoon race. In other words, we can expect the temperatures to drop off quite significantly as the race progresses.
Beyond that, the track has not been used too much recently, meaning there won’t be much rubber on it, likely resulting in a more slippery surface – granted, we can expect the track to evolve by the end of the race. There is also a strong possibility of sand blowing onto the track, so the grip remains a mystery.
What we do know, however, is that the track doesn’t offer many overtaking opportunities. So if you’re hoping for another exciting race akin to the Brazilian Grand Prix, you might as well wait for the next round.
Qatar Grand Prix Prediction
Verstappen could have extended his lead ahead of Hamilton 30 points last week, but with Bottas winning the sprint race and the Dutch finishing in second, the gap is now 14. A disappointing result for the Red Bull driver, yet quite an exciting one for all F1 fans, who might get served with one of the closest finishes of the F1 season in recent history.
Similarly, the constructor gap is at only 11 points, and with 132 still up for grabs, the Constructors’ Championship battle is far from over. If you’re looking to bet now on who will win the Constructor’s Championship, you should keep in mind that the battle will likely fall into the hands of the teams’ second drivers – Bottas and Perez, therefore your pick should come down to who you believe will perform better in the remaining races.
As suggested by online sportsbooks, Hamilton should win next weekend, and we don’t have a reason to doubt him. But at the same time, we don’t see him as a good bet at -135. Similarly, Verstappen (+150) doesn’t appeal to us, largely because we expect Mercedes to have an edge on the track.
So instead, we will explore a side market and place a wager on the fastest lap. Over the entire 2021 season, Hamilton picked up five fastest laps, while Verstappen locked in four, albeit not once since Austria. Interestingly out of the top two drivers, Hamilton is the only one to drive the fastest lap (US) across the last six rounds.
The remaining five belonged to Daniel Ricciardo (Italy), Lando Norris (Russia), Sergio Perez (Brazil), and Valtteri Bottas (Turkey and Mexico). Any of the four could do it again, but the (supposed) advantage the Losail Circuit should give Mercedes over other cars makes Bottas (+450) a great pick on the fastest lap market.