Qatar Grand Prix: Verstappen can sprint to title
Qatar Grand Prix: Verstappen can sprint to title

Qatar Grand Prix: Verstappen can sprint to title

Date: 08/10/2023

Venue: Lusail International Circuit

Max Verstappen is expected to be celebrating a hat-trick of world titles this weekend in our Qatar Grand Prix predictions.

The Dutchman hit back from disappointment in Singapore with an imperious performance at the Japanese Grand Prix, delivering a storming qualifying lap around the high-speed corner circuit before easing to the race win by almost 20 seconds from Lando Norris.

That sealed the constructors’ championship for Red Bull and leaves Verstappen on the brink of his third championship crown.

His success could even come in Saturday’s sprint race in Qatar.

He is now 177 points clear of team-mate Sergio Perez, with 180 still available, meaning a sixth-placed finish – worth three points – in the sprint would secure the title.

Verstappen is 1/4 for victory on the sprint race with Perez 12/1, the same price as Norris, in our Qatar Grand Prix odds.

“If it happens on a Saturday, a Sunday, the week after. I know that it is coming but it is not something I am thinking about too much how I win it,” Verstappen said ahead of his win in Japan.

“Maybe it is a good thing. I don’t really think about it. We are experiencing an amazing year as a team and I don’t care where I win it.”

Whether he has the title wrapped up by then or not, Verstappen is firm favourite to win Sunday’s race at 2/9, with Perez 12/1 to take the win.

Perez endured a miserable race at Suzuka, breaking two front wings and receiving two penalties inside 15 laps before retiring – only to briefly return – and will be determined to show what he is capable of in Qatar.

Both Red Bull drivers to finish on the podium is available at 17/20.

McLaren were the closest challengers to Red Bull all weekend in Japan, securing their first double podium of the season and a maiden F1 podium for Oscar Piastri.

The track in Lusail has similar high-speed characteristics to Suzuka and McLaren are expecting to be strong again.

“We are trying to catch Red Bull. All we can do is chip a tenth at a time but Max was pretty dominant. I think we will be strong at the next race, so will keep pushing,” McLaren CEO Zak Brown told Sky Sports.

“I feel as confident as I can we will be pretty strong everywhere but we know there will be some tracks that favour your car more than others and we are good in the high speed, which Qatar is, so we will be strong there and not be weak anywhere.”

Norris is 12/1 to claim his first F1 win, with Piastri available at 18/1, while another double podium for the British team is 3/1.

Mercedes were well off the pace of Red Bull and McLaren last time out and also lost ground in their scrap for second in the constructors’ title to Ferrari.

Charles Leclerc and Carlos Sainz finished fourth and sixth, with Mercedes pair Lewis Hamilton and George Russell fifth and seventh respectively after scrapping with each other throughout the race.

“The fact is we are not fighting each other in the team championship. As drivers it is not important where we are,” Hamilton said after Suzuka.

“What is important is that one of us finishes ahead of the Ferrari and to keep the position. Today we really needed to work as a team.”

One of Hamilton or Russell finishing in the top three in Qatar is 8/5 while both Mercedes drivers finishing in the top six is available at 17/20.

Past Qatar GP winners
2021 Hamilton (Mercedes), Verstappen (Red Bull), Bottas (Mercedes)

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