Max Verstappen can put himself in an enviable position with another win in Brazil.
Verstappen won in 2019 in Brazil, the last time that Formula 1 visited the Autodromo Jose Carlos Pace (Noon ET, Sunday, ESPN2). A second straight win would put him over 20 points ahead of Lewis Hamilton with three races to go.
Verstappen extended his lead by seven points to 19 over Hamilton in Mexico City less than a week ago. Verstappen went from third to first in the first set of corners and then drove away for an easy — and convincing — win. Hamilton had to hold off Verstappen’s Red Bull Racing teammate Sergio Perez for second over the final laps of the race.
The lead could have been 20 if it wasn’t for Hamilton’s Mercedes teammate Valtteri Bottas stealing the fastest lap on the final lap of the race. With race winners getting 25 points, a lead of over 20 points is sizable with just three races to go.
That’s why it’s imperative for Hamilton to get a win in Brazil if he’s going to beat Verstappen without any mechanical gremlins coming into play over the final four races. A Hamilton win can get the lead back to 12 or so — a manageable deficit when third place scores 10 fewer points per race than the race winner. Hamilton won the 2016 and 2018 races in Brazil and the track is the site of his dramatic 2008 championship win where he passed Timo Glock on the final lap to win the championship by a point over Felipe Massa.
Hamilton doesn’t need the race to be that dramatic on Sunday. But he needs to get the pole on Friday and win the sprint race on Saturday. The race weekend is the third and final of the season with the sprint format. Qualifying is Friday afternoon ahead of a short race to set the field on Saturday. The winner of the sprint race will get three points while second gets two and third gets one.
Hamilton needs all the points he can get. If Verstappen wins the sprint race and wins the race, Hamilton chances of an eighth title in 2021 are going to be pretty slim.
Let’s take a look at bets you should consider for the race weekend. You would have turned a nice profit had you bet $10 on each of our picks for the Mexico Grand Prix. All odds are from BetMGM.
Valtteri Bottas to finish in the top 10 (-500)
Bottas’ struggles — he was on the pole in Mexico and got spun around before the second corner — have him behind both Ferrari drivers on this board. The return isn’t great here, but the value is pretty good.
Max Verstappen to finish in the top three (-300)
Take some easy money and move on. And this bet not cashing means we’re likely going to have a great title race over the final three race weekends.
All 4 Mercedes and Red Bull drivers in the top 6 (-115)
Maybe this is the race where something doesn’t happen to both Bottas and Perez.
More than 17.5 cars classified at the end of the race (-105)
We’re confident that two or fewer cars will fail to finish unless there’s a massive wreck at the beginning of the race.
Valtteri Bottas to win Free Practice 1 (+300)
We cashed this bet at +400 a week ago, why not try it again?