The Turkish Grand Prix did not go to plan, with a bad qualifying session for my picks leading to a fairly quiet race with no returns. We now find ourselves with 6 races left in the 2021 season, and Max Verstappen holding a 6 point lead over Lewis Hamilton in the drivers standings.
The Constructors race is also live, with Mercedes 36 points ahead. Mclaren and Ferrari are in a tight race for 3rd spot as well. Verstappen has had the upper hand very slightly in recent times, but the general consensus is that the Mercedes is still the quicker car and he’ll have his work cut out for him in the final races. It’s genuinely exciting to have a proper championship battle on our hands for a change.
The US Grand Prix has been held 49 times, including the last eight at the Circuit of the Americas in Austin, Texas. It is a rather long track with two long straights, one flowing side, and one tight side. Hamilton has won 5 races at this circuit, with no-one else in the field having won more than once. Valtterri Bottas was the winner last time in 2019.
With talk that the Mercedes engine has gained significant speed in the last few races, Red Bull will be very concerned o a circuit which features a 1.1km straight. However, there are enough tight corners that teams still use a high-downforce setup, meaning Red Bull will have the advantage in some areas. Despite never winning here, Verstappen does have a lot of strong performances in the top 4. With the title race so close, we’ll likely start to see Bottas and Sergio Perez fade into support roles for their teammates, running split strategies and conceding position to ensure maximum points for the team leader. With all that in mind, I’m going to pass on betting on any of the favourites to win.
Ferrari is one team that holds a lot of interest, having shown some improved speed after recent engine upgrades. Carlos Sainz has strung together nine points finishes to go with his three podiums this season. Charles Leclerc has been less consistent, but has been in the top 5 in 3 of the last 5 races. Ferrari also has the second most podiums in the history of the US GP on this circuit. With that in mind I’m going to take a shot on either driver to win, as well as Sainz for the podium.
Sainz Podium ($9.00)
Alpine is a team that has a decent history at this track, with the 4th most points scored in the last 5 races. That makes them my target for some longer bets, with both Alonso and Ocon holding decent records at the circuit. The team has been a bit all over the place this season, but with big backing from Renault they are determined to move back towards the top of the field and have shown flashes of that upside this season. With Ocon paying almost three times as much as Alonso, I’ll play the odds and take a shot at the talented young frenchman despite a few quiet races recently.
With long odds on my selection this week, I can afford to take one more. Given that I’m effectively betting against Mercedes and Red Bull in this one, I’m going to look towards McLaren as the other team trying to make its way to the top of the sport. The circuit history looks pretty ordinary for the team in orange, but having taken big strides forward this season I’m willing to ignore the past and hope for better things in the present. Our Aussie hero Dan Ricciardo has been increasingly comfortable in the car, with 3 top 4 finishes in his last 5 races. Things did not go to plan in Turkey, but I’m taking a chance on him getting back on track this week. With big upside, I think he can challenge for a spot on the podium once again.
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