Formula 1 returns to Portugal for the second year in a row with a real battle brewing between Max Verstappen and Lewis Hamilton.
As many neutrals had hoped, the #1 drivers for Mercedes and Red Bull are going head-to-head, with just one point separating them. Hamilton won the season opener in Bahrain with Verstappen second, and the Dutchman returned the favour last time out at Imola.
Now we return to the Algarve circuit in Portimao where Hamilton broke the record for F1 wins last season and finished atop a podium that saw Valtteri Bottas in second and Verstappen in third. A bit of rain led to a frantic first few laps last year, but the weather is meant to be dry for this weekend’s racing.
What did The Wolf say last week? That it’ll pretty much be a back and forth between Hamilton and Verstappen as far as your Best Bets go. It’s almost a crapshoot, although to be honest, the Dutchman could have two wins under his belt right now. This is only the second time the Algarve circuit has been used for an F1 race, so the safe play is Hamilton to repeat as the winner.
Red Bull have looked strong and even Hamilton and Mercedes boss Toto Wolff admit as much. Verstappen has been incredibly quick, he’s up for the fight and he’s close to eliminating the silly ‘road rage’ antics that have cost him races in the past. That said, he struggled a bit at Portimao last year – his first lap was nearly disastrous – and he may play second (probably not third) fiddle to Lewis this year.
The Value Bet is tricky when you have two dominant drivers all but assured of a podium spot. There’s not enough value in Bottas (despite his struggles and DNF at Imola), Lando Norris or Charles Leclerc in the Podium Finish market, so The Wolf suggest taking a look at First Car To Retire. Punters are all over Haas and in particular Nikita Mazepin so the value is all but gone there, but Nicholas Latifi has two DNF’s and George Russell has one, so Williams could be your go here.
We didn’t have a ‘Ricciardo to be given team orders’ market at Imola, when McLaren decided that Norris was a better option than Ricciardo, a move that paid off with a podium finish. Do we go with the same Ricciardo Top 6 finish bet? He finished 9th last year at Portimao, albeit in a Renault. Let’s dial it back this week with a very safe Points Finish bet. Chuck it in a multi.