Formula 1 betting preview: Can anyone keep up with Max Verstappen in Brazil?

Red Bull's Dutch driver Max Verstappen drives during the final race of the 2022 Formula 1 Mexico Grand Prix at the Hermanos Rodriguez Circuit in Mexico City, Mexico, on Oct. 30, 2022. (Photo by Qian Jun/Xinhua via Getty Images)
Red Bull's Dutch driver Max Verstappen drives during the final race of the 2022 Formula 1 Mexico Grand Prix at the Hermanos Rodriguez Circuit in Mexico City, Mexico, on Oct. 30, 2022. (Photo by Qian Jun/Xinhua via Getty Images)

Oddsmakers are suddenly bearish on Ferrari’s chances of keeping up with Max Verstappen.

The 2022 Formula 1 world champ is again an overwhelming favorite to win ahead of the Brazilian Grand Prix on Sunday (1 p.m. ET, ESPN2). Verstappen is -200 to take the race win. Those are the same odds he had ahead of his victory three weeks ago at the United States Grand Prix.

Verstappen, however, does not have better than even odds to either post the fastest lap in the first practice or take the pole on Friday afternoon. He’s the favorite in both categories, but Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc and Carlos Sainz Jr. are close enough to keep Verstappen from being the runaway favorite. Verstappen is at +200 to win FP1 with Leclerc at +250 and Sainz at +350. The Red Bull driver is at +150 to win Saturday’s sprint race while Leclerc is at +200 and Sainz is at +500.

But that single-lap optimism for Ferrari is not reflected in the race odds. Mercedes’ Lewis Hamilton is the No. 2 favorite to win the race at +500 after he finished second in both the United States and Mexico. Leclerc is the No. 3 favorite at +600 while Sainz is at +2500 and the No. 6 favorite behind Sergio Perez (+900) and George Russell (+1400).

As a reminder, there’s just one practice session on Friday before qualifying later in the day. The qualifying session will set the grid for Saturday’s sprint race and Saturday’s sprint race will set the grid for Sunday’s Grand Prix. Hamilton started last in the sprint a year ago and drove his way through the field for a decent starting spot on Sunday. He then picked drivers off one by one to finally pass Verstappen for the race win to set up a thriller in Abu Dhabi for the title.

Here are our picks for the race weekend via BetMGM.

Sebastian Vettel to finish in the top 10 (-120)

This is a sentimental pick for Vettel to score points in his penultimate race.

McLaren to finish ahead of Alpine (-105)

This is basically a bet that Lando Norris will finish ahead of Fernando Alonso given the relative lack of pace shown by Esteban Ocon and Daniel Ricciardo in recent weeks.

Max Verstappen to post the race’s fastest lap (+175)

George Russell got the fastest lap late in Mexico off a cheap pit stop but we think things will be closer in Brazil.

Mas Verstappen and Lewis Hamilton to finish 1-2 (+175)

We likely aren’t going to get a duel like we did in 2021, but Mercedes has shown enough pace recently to make us think Hamilton is the clear No. 2 to Verstappen as the season concludes.

Charles Leclerc to win Friday qualifying (+300)

Let’s take a flier on Ferrari’s one-lap pace on Friday and bet that Leclerc will start the sprint race in first. FYI, BetMGM lists the sprint race as qualifying and Friday’s qualifying session as Qualifying Session 1.