Venue: Jeddah Corniche Circuit
After strolling to victory in the season opener in Bahrain, Max Verstappen is hard to oppose in our Saudi Arabian Grand Prix predictions.
The Red Bull ace came out on top in a thrilling renewal of this contest 12 months ago and returns to the Jeddah Corniche Circuit full of confidence.
Verstappen has won 10 of the last 12 races and it is easy to see why he is as short as 1/2 in the Saudi Arabian Grand Prix odds.
The flying Dutchman dominated throughout in Sakhir, crossing the line 11 seconds clear of teammate Sergio Perez.
Fernando Alonso made it onto the podium in a rejuvenated Aston Martin, but the 41-year-old took the chequered flag nearly 40 seconds behind Verstappen.
The defending champion described it as “a straightforward day for us” but was quick to point out that conditions will be very different at Jeddah.
“I could see early on that we had the pace in the car, I was able to build a gap from the start and then just managed it for the rest of the race,” said the 25-year-old.
“Looking ahead to Jeddah, it’s a completely different track with different conditions, there’s a lot of long straights and fast corners.
“It will give us a completely different picture of where everyone is on the grid but at least this was a very good start for us.”
Perez also played down the significance of one race, adding: “On this tarmac, we have been very strong, but Bahrain is a very unique circuit and things will be closer at other circuits.”
However, George Russell, who finished seventh on a sobering evening for Mercedes, summed up the mood among Red Bull’s rivals.
He declared: “Red Bull have got this championship sewn up and I don’t think anybody will be fighting with them this year.
“They should win every single race this season. With the performance they have got, I don’t see anyone challenging them. They have got it easy at the moment and they can do what they like.
“They might not take every pole – because Ferrari are competitive over one lap – but when it comes to race pace, they are in a very strong position.”
Perez is next best in the Saudi Arabian Grand Prix betting at 11/2.
How the Bahrain Grand Prix finished
1 Verstappen (Red Bull), 2 Perez (Red Bull), 3 Alonso (Aston Martin), 4 Sainz (Ferrari), 5 Hamilton (Mercedes), 6 Stroll (Aston Martin), 7 Russell (Mercedes), 8 Bottas (Alfa Romeo), 9 Gasly (Alpine), 10 Albon (Williams), 11 Tsunoda (Alphatauri), 12 Sargeant (Williams), 13 Magnussen (Haas), 14 De Vries (Alphatauri), 15 Hulkenberg (Haas), 16 Guanyu (Alfa Romeo), 17 Norris (McLaren), DNF Ocon (Alpine), Leclerc (Ferrari), Piastri (McLaren)
Alonso had to recover from a tricky start in Bahrain but stormed through the chasing pack in impressive fashion to finish third.
“We did not have the best start, but the race pace was strong,” commented the 2005 and 2006 world champion.
“The car has been very predictable from day one and I have felt very comfortable throughout the whole weekend.
“I really enjoyed the race and, even after the chequered flag, I felt like I could have driven for another hour!”
The Spaniard is 10/1 to secure a 33rd grand prix success in Saudi Arabia, with Aston Martin teammate Lance Stroll 66/1.
Ferrari’s reliability issues quickly resurfaced in the season opener, with Charles Leclerc forced to retire after 39 of the 57 laps when in third.
He said: “We had a great start and everything felt good. We had a solid gap behind us and were managing the pace well until unfortunately we lost power.”
Leclerc can be backed at 7/1 to bounce back with a win, while teammate Carlos Sainz is 12/1 after finishing fourth first time out in 2023.
After drawing a blank last year, Hamilton finished fifth at the opening round – 51 seconds behind Verstappen – and is 22/1 here, with Russell quoted at 28/1.
Speaking immediately after the chequered flag, Hamilton said: “I know we are not where we want to be, but let’s keep pushing.”
Past Saudi Arabian GP winners
2022 Verstappen (Red Bull), Leclerc (Ferrari), Sainz (Ferrari)
2021 Hamilton (Mercedes), Verstappen (Red Bull), Bottas (Mercedes)
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