The first race of the 2022 Formula 1 season was full of surprises. Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc won the Bahrain Grand Prix ahead of teammate Carlos Sainz Jr. as the two Ferrari drivers led all 57 laps. Red Bull drivers Max Verstappen and Sergio Perez retired within the final five laps of the race because of fuel pump issues, and Mercedes’ Lewis Hamilton and George Russell finished third and fourth.
As you know by now, that race was an aberration. While Ferrari was the closest team to Red Bull all season, Verstappen ran away with the 2022 title and Red Bull easily captured the constructor’s championship. Mercedes was far back of both teams for much of the season before getting closer near the end of the season as Russell won in Brazil.
Oddsmakers aren’t banking on too many surprises ahead of Sunday’s 2023 season opener in Bahrain. Verstappen enters as the favorite for both pole and the race win while Mercedes faces fairly long odds.
Verstappen is -135 to win the race at BetMGM while Leclerc is at +400 and Perez is at +800. Hamilton is +900 to win for the first time since 2021 while Sainz is at +1000. Surprisingly, Russell isn’t the No. 6 favorite either. That honor goes to Fernando Alonso at +1600 thanks to some quick testing laps a week ago. Russell is at +1800 while Lance Stroll is a distant eighth at +6600.
There’s more than just the race winner to bet on at BetMGM as well. There are over 60 race-related bets available in addition to bets on practice and qualifying. We typically like to take a look at practice and qualifying bets because of the value that can be found, but we’re also wary of preseason testing results. You can never be sure who is working on what and if teams are sandbagging.
That’s why our favorite bets for the weekend all have to do with Sunday’s race (10 a.m. ET, ESPN). Here’s what we like.
Max Verstappen to win the race (-135)
Might as well go with the chalk pick, right? Perhaps there’s some value in Leclerc at +400, but we are banking on a relatively straightforward win for Verstappen and will be surprised if it’s not.
Esteban Ocon to finish in the top 10 (-120)
Alpine wasn’t the quickest in testing but this is the team that finished fourth a season ago. Ocon should have enough to get a top 10, even if he doesn’t make the final round of qualifying.
George Russell to finish ahead of Fernando Alonso (-105)
We’re not sure what we’re willing to believe from Alonso’s laps at preseason testing. That’s why we’re going with Russell and Mercedes at nearly even odds.
Max Verstappen to post the race’s fastest lap (+160)
If Verstappen is too far ahead at the end of the race another driver could make a late pit stop for a set of fresh tires. But that’s a risk we’re willing to take.
Lewis Hamilton to finish in the top three (+175)
Hamilton’s third-place finish a year ago in Bahrain was a gift after the retirements of both the Red Bulls. Mercedes says it’s in a much better position than it was a season ago at this time and while Hamilton may not be a threat for the win, he shouldn’t be out to lunch either.