Max Verstappen is favored to win in Azerbaijan.
Verstappen is at +110 at BetMGM to take the checkered flag in Sunday’s Formula 1 Grand Prix (7 a.m. ET, ESPN). Verstappen is a slight favorite over Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc (+175) following an epic Ferrari strategy screwup at Monaco. Leclerc was in control of the Monaco Grand Prix, but Red Bull put Ferrari on the tire strategy back foot as the track dried. That strategy bumbling dropped Leclerc to fourth while teammate Carlos Sainz finished second to Verstappen’s teammate Sergio Perez.
Perez is at +600 to win and is the defending champion at the Baku street circuit. He won a wild race in 2021 after Verstappen crashed out because of a tire puncture. Verstappen’s crash opened the door for Lewis Hamilton to steal a win but Hamilton overdrove his car into turn 1 on a late restart. Neither Hamilton nor Verstappen scored points in Baku a year ago as their title race went down to the final lap of the final race.
Verstappen and Perez are favored over Leclerc and Sainz (+900) because of Red Bull’s straight-line speed and the long front straightaway at Baku. The track places a premium on both handling and speed and raw speed can be incredibly powerful down the longest straightaway in F1. The run from the final hard left-hand corner to the 90-degree Turn 1 is a flat-out 2.2 KM sprint and drivers can set up passes entering Turn 1 thanks to that stretch.
Overall, Baku is the third-longest track on the calendar behind Spa and the circuit in Jeddah ,and no driver outside of Red Bull or Mercedes has gotten a victory at the circuit. There’s been no repeat winner in Azerbaijan either. Nico Rosberg, Daniel Ricciardo, Hamilton, Valtteri Bottas and Perez have won the five races at the track. A win by Verstappen on Sunday keeps the streak of different winners and Red Bull or Mercedes winners alive.
Here are a few bets that we like ahead of Sunday’s race. Practice begins on Friday.
Pierre Gasly to finish top 10 (+100)
Gasly is No. 11 on the board among the 20 drivers in the field and the first one with even or better odds. We’re going to trust the Alpha Tauri’s speed as we won’t be surprised if he makes it all the way to the final round of qualifying.
Max Verstappen to post the race’s fastest lap (+120)
If Verstappen doesn’t start first, he can get the benefit of DRS and get a huge run from behind someone.
Max Verstappen to win the pole (+125)
Verstappen is behind Leclerc in both the FP1 and qualifying odds. We’re putting our trust in the Red Bull car to start the race in the top spot.
George Russell to finish ahead of Carlos Sainz (+175)
Sainz is on a roller coaster in 2022 and he finished second at Monaco. Can he make it two great finishes in a row? We don’t think so.
Max Verstappen to win Free Practice 1 (+250)
We really wanted to keep betting Leclerc to win FP1. But he’s at +100 to post the fastest lap and the long straightaway gives us a little pause. Combine that hesitancy with Verstappen’s odds, and we’re leaning toward the reigning world champ.