Photo by @le10Sport (twitter)
- Max Verstappen looks to start his challenge for an F1 title with a third straight victory at the Austrian Grand Prix
- Lewis Hamilton begins his bid for a record seventh F1 championship as the favorite in Austria
- Read on for the odds and background on the first race of the 2020 Formula One season
Red Bull Racing’s Max Verstappen will aim to become the first driver to record three straight victories at the Austrian Grand Prix when he hits the track on Sunday for the first race of the 2020 Formula One season.
Verstappen enters the weekend a narrow +200 second-favorite in the F1 race-day odds to Mercedes’ Lewis Hamilton, who has won three straight (and six total) Drivers’ Championships.
Odds to Win 2020 Austrian Grand Prix
|Driver||Odds to Win||Odds to Finish Top Three||Odds to Finish Top Six|
|Lewis Hamilton (Mercedes)||+150||-350||-625|
|Max Verstappen (Red Bull)||+200||-250||-625|
|Charles Leclerc (Ferrari)||+425||+110||-750|
|Valtteri Bottas (Mercedes)||-120||+300||-625|
|Sebastian Vettel (Ferrari)||+650||+175||-500|
|Alex Albon (Red Bull)||+2000||+300||-400|
|Sergio Perez (Racing Point)||+4000||+800||-300|
|Lance Stroll (Racing Point)||+10000||+2000||-250|
|Carlos Sainz Jr. (McLaren)||+15000||+2000||-200|
|Lando Norris (McLaren)||+25000||+5000||-175|
*Odds taken July 1, 2020.
Can Verstappen Close Gap on Hamilton?
Verstappen returns to action amid high expectations after enjoying a breakthrough 2019 season. The 22-year-old driver took his place among F1’s elite drivers with nine podium finishes, including a trio of wins, while finishing outside the top five on just four occasions.
Max Verstappen’s 2019 season wrapped!
Future world champion?#SkyF1 | #F1 pic.twitter.com/1tLFqGDmXQ
— Sky Sports F1 (@SkySportsF1) December 8, 2019
But while Verstappen is widely considered to be the greatest threat to Lewis Hamilton’s dominance of the F1 circuit, the Red Bull driver faces a steep challenge in his bid to close the gap between himself and the British racing superstar. He is also the second-favorite in the 2020 Drivers’ Championship odds, but it’s a distant second.
Odds to Win 2020 Formula One Drivers’ Championship
|Lewis Hamilton (Mercedes)||-164|
|Max Verstappen (Red Bull)||+450|
|Charles Leclerc (Ferrari)||+600|
|Valtteri Bottas (Mercedes)||+800|
|Sebastian Vettel (Ferrari)||+1600|
|Alex Albon (Red Bull)||+10000|
|Sergio Perez (Racing Point)||+20000|
|Carlos Sainz Jr. (McLaren)||+50000|
|Daniel Ricciardo (Renault)||+50000|
|Lance Stroll (Racing Point)||+50000|
*Odds taken June 30, 2020.
Hamilton Poised for Date with History
After running away with last year’s F1 Drivers’ Championship with a record-setting 413 points, Hamilton returns as a clear favorite to match the legendary Michael Schumacher’s record of seven F1 titles. He enters the truncated season sporting short -164 odds in the Formula One futures.
The 35-year-old never looked back after a speedy start in 2019, taking home the checkered flag in six of the first eight races of the season. He reached the podium in all but four of 21 races.
Lewis Hamilton will look to match Michael Schumacher’s record for the most @F1 titles when the season kicks off this weekend. pic.twitter.com/pPoyU0ZN92
— SuperSport ? (@SuperSportTV) July 1, 2020
However, success has eluded Hamilton on the Red Bull Ring in Austria in recent years. In addition to his fifth-place performance last year, which marked his first finish off the podium of the season, Hamilton failed to finish in 2018 and settled for fourth in 2017. Despite his record of coming up short, Hamilton continues to lead the way as +150 chalk to earn the win in Sunday’s running of the 2020 Austrian Grand Prix, and a short -350 wager to return to the podium at Red Bull Ring.
While the focus remains squarely on the highly anticipated duel between Hamilton and Verstappen during the abbreviated 2020 campaign, the nearly four-month delay in starting the season has been far from quiet. As sports bettors awaited the return of F1 racing, a number of significant personnel moves took place that are likely to have serious implications for the upcoming season.
Recent Austrian Grand Prix Winners
|Year||Driver||Margin of Victory|
|2019||Max Verstappen – Red Bull||2.724 sec|
|2018||Max Verstappen – Red Bull||1.504 sec|
|2017||Valtteri Bottas – Mercedes||0.658 sec|
|2016||Lewis Hamilton – Mercedes||5.719 sec|
|2015||Nico Rosberg – Mercedes||8.800 sec|
Which Version of Vettel Will Show Up
Sebastian Vettel will be departing Ferrari at the end of the 2020 season, which has left bettors uncertain of what to expect from the four-time F1 champion this year. Following a dismal 2019 campaign, in which he finished fifth in the standings, Vettel was notified that Ferrari would not be extending his contract, opening the door for Carlos Sainz Jr. to join the legendary Italian team in 2021.
#UPDATE Carlos Sainz is heading to Ferrari next season while Daniel Ricciardo will leave Renault for McLaren in 2021
+ Sainz signs deal for 2021 and 2022 seasons
+ Ricciardo to partner youngster Norris
+ Outgoing Vettel will take time to consider futurehttps://t.co/8jUbFwJtIg pic.twitter.com/TMrdoEWIRO
— AFP_Sport (@AFP_Sport) May 14, 2020
Plagued by a steady run of technical issues and reports of a growing feud with teammate Charles Leclerc, Vettel recorded just one win last season, and finished outside the top ten in five of the final 12 races of the season. The 32-year-old German also displayed glimpses of the skill that made him the world’s best driver a decade ago, reaching the podium in five of his final 11 outings.
However, it remains to be seen whether Vettel will seek to prove Ferrari wrong on their decision or simply play out the string until he can seek greener pastures during the offseason. That uncertainty has contributed to his dip to a +1600 bet to claim a fifth career F1 championship.
A strong performance in Austria would certainly go a long way to boosting his stock. Vettel has finished top three in two of his past three appearances at the Red Bull Ring. He has attractive +175 odds of reaching the podium this time around.
However, Vettel has failed to take home the checkered flag in six previous appearances at this event, twice failing to finish. That track record has taken its toll on his odds to win on Sunday, which lag at a lengthy +800.
Bottas, Leclerc Offer Plenty of Value
As the 2020 F1 season gets underway, another trio of drivers are worthy of close scrutiny. Hamilton’s Mercedes teammate, Valtteri Bottas, returns after enjoying a career year in 2020, posting four victories and a strong second-place in the F1 Drivers Standings. Pegged as a +800 bet to finish atop the standings this season, Bottas also returns to action with personal issues related to his 2019 divorce behind him.
Last qualifying session ✅
7 Pole Positions ✅
Most poles out of anyone in 2019 ✅
No points awarded for the poles but I never would have thought I would have 7 poles in my first season with @scuderiaferrari.
Now let’s finish 2019 in style tomorrow, let’s goooo ? pic.twitter.com/l0RegBsR3X
— Charles Leclerc (@Charles_Leclerc) November 30, 2019
Like Vettel, Leclerc was dogged by technical problems last season, which limited him to just two victories. The fastest riser in the F1 championship odds, where he sits at +600, Leclerc offers better value on race day. With Ferrari returning to action with the same car as last year, it remains to be seen whether the team has put their 2019 woes behind them.
However, it was in Austria where Leclerc showed signs of overcoming last season’s disappointing start. The Monegasque finished second at this event last year, and is a solid +550 bet to claim the pole position for the second year in a row, and for the seventh time in his past 13 overall races.
Picks: Verstappen to win (+200); Vettel to finish top three (+175); Leclerc to win pole position (+550)