There are just seven races left in the 2021 Formula 1 World Championship season and there is still very little to choose between Lewis Hamilton and Max Verstappen in terms of both the Drivers standings and the title betting odds.
Hamilton’s triumph in Sochi helped him retake the lead in the championship at the expense of Verstappen but it was the latter who emerged from the Russian Grand Prix with arguably the more impressive and unlikely result.
The Dutchman started the race at the back of the grid but after making his way through the grid even before the rain came, he was set for a top-six finish but he timed his switch to intermediate tyres perfectly and ended up in second as many others faltered.
He added: “To come away from two Mercedes strongholds with only a two-point deficit in the drivers’ championship is hugely encouraging.”
And the betting sites agree. Verstappen, who took an engine penalty in Sochi, had been priced at Evens in the Drivers Championship by some bookmakers before race 15 of the campaign, but after limiting the damage and only conceding seven points to his rival, most firms have cut his price to 4/6 or thereabouts.
Hamilton has used three engines so far in 2021 and may have to take a penalty at some point during the run-in – perhaps even at the Turkish Grand Prix.
That could present an opportunity for Verstappen to take a significant lead in the standings, so with that in mind, Hamilton is odds-against at 6/5 to become an eight-time champion.
The Brit is also an underdog this weekend, even though he won in Istanbul last year in what was the first Turkish Grand Prix since 2011 when Sebastian Vettel came out on top.
Verstappen could only muster a sixth-place finish a year ago, but he starts as a 5/6 favourite this time around with Hamilton at an 11/8 price which could be particularly tempting if you use free bets or other betting offers and bonuses.
Valtteri Bottas, still searching for his first win of 2021, is a 16/1 shot, which is a shorter price than both McLarens despite both Daniel Ricciardo (80/1) and Lando Norris (25/1) showing excellent pace in the latter half of the season.
Sergio Perez is also in the mix at 20/1, and it is important for Red Bull that the Mexican manages a good result this weekend at the Turkish Grand Prix because the team’s Constructors Championship hopes appear to be slipping away.
Mercedes have a 33-point advantage and that is largely down to the dropoff in Perez’s results which, over the last six races, are 16th, DNF, 19th, 8th, 5th, and 9th.
Red Bull are 15/8 to claw back the deficit and win their first Constructors Championship since 2013, while Mercedes can be backed at 2/5 to hold them off and make it eight on the trot.
George Russell is 7/4 to score points on Sunday which seems fair given his recent form, and it may surprise some people to see Ricciardo as big as 11/10 to get himself into the top six.