Welcome back folks. I’ve spent a week with a lighter sports schedule binging some F1 documentaries and the Drive To Survive episodes I hadn’t seen yet to get in the proper frame of mind for this weekend’s British Grand Prix.
But first, let’s talk about last Sunday’s NASCAR race picks:
- Hendrick Motorsports team to win (+105) LOSS
- Kurt Busch top ten finish (+105) WIN!!!
So 1-1. No money made (well, very little money made) but no money lost. Can’t complain I guess. Kurt went ahead and won the whole dang thing, easily snagging the top ten and sealing the victory with some smart driving in lapped traffic to take the lead and create space between him and his brother Kyle, who finished second.
Kyle Larson, who I dedicated a few paragraphs to last week, was penalized for speeding on pit lane during his last stop and finished 18th. Neutral race fans will hope the field starts to catch Larson, but he’s still (rightfully) favored to win this year’s Cup Series, listed at +250 by our friends at Pointsbet.
This weekend, NASCAR is in New Hampshire, for 301 laps around the “The Magic Mile”, on a track that theoretically won’t fall apart mid-race the way Atlanta did last week. Kevin Harvick has historically been one of the best drivers here, winning three races since 2016, and collecting 21 top tens in his 37 total races at the track.
Harvick (pictured above in his sweet Grave Digger gear from Nashville this season) is an intriguing pick here, while he’s historically excellent on The Magic Mile, it’s been an off year for both him and his team, Stewart-Haas Racing. But I think if there was ever a race for Harvick and the team to get everything just right, it’s New Hampshire.
Harvick is +1400 to win, +500 to reach the top three, and -165 to finish in the top ten. Gimme that +1400 here and believe in the Busch Light #4 at least for this weekend alone. I also figure Kyle Larson to figure it out a little more and to not speed on pit lane, but value isn’t really there for him.
That’s NASCAR out of the way, now for the show I’ll be paying the most attention to this weekend, F1’s return to action in front of a packed and majority fully vacced Silverstone for the British Grand Prix.
And this weekend of F1 is unprecedented in the sport’s history! A delight for me seeing as I started this column a week ago. A sprint race, airing live on ESPN 2 a little past 11 am eastern, will determine the starting grid for Sunday’s British Grand Prix.
I say unprecedented, because in F1’s long history, the series has never run any form of qualifying race during a race weekend. The sprint qualifying race is 100 kilometers, or 17 laps around Silverstone. A short race designed to be run flat out, no (well, less) tire management to worry about, no pit strategies to shuffle the pack, just flat out racing for 17 laps, which should figure to a race under 45 minutes in length.
If F1’s new to you, the reader, well this weekend is new to all of F1. The normal qualifying session happened on Friday, with Lewis Hamilton and Mercedes capturing the “qualifying fastest” award, as the usual pole position will be awarded to the driver who wins the sprint race.
Max Verstappen and Red Bull was left in second place, unable to make up time on his last qualifying lap, but still starting on the front row for the sprint race. The Dutchman swept Austria, and Red Bull has seen dominance the team hasn’t seen in almost a decade, winning the last five races.
Verstappen won four of those five, and currently has a fairly commanding lead of the Driver’s Championship, and is heavily favored in futures markets to capture that title, sitting anywhere from -250 to -400 depending on your book. Those numbers are indicative of Red Bull’s dominance, and Lewis Hamilton and Mercedes have struggled to keep up.
When the Mercedes cars driven by Lewis Hamilton and Valtteri Bottas took to the track at Silverstone on Friday, they had a few nuanced upgrades from the car that couldn’t keep up in Austria a few weeks ago. Upgrades that give the team hope to close the gap to the Red Bull.
Little tiny bits and kinks and things mostly unrecognizable to the viewer at home, scientifically illustrated above, have helped Mercedes gain precious tenths and thousandths of seconds where they were losing them before. With those upgrades to his car, and packed grandstands of Silverstone behind him, Lewis Hamilton has his best chance to claw back into the Driver’s Championship race this weekend.
Let’s get to the business end here. I tried to keep this fairly short (quick stop to check word count: 817 so far. Whatever man.) but alas will end up writing well over a thousand words. If you’ve read this far, your reward is picks!
Starting with the sprint race, PointsBet has team matchups, which are often great possibilities for value in F1 betting. Furthermore, in a sport where the winner can often be decided before anyone steps foot on the track, team matchup bets can provide some entertainment when a race might not be particularly interesting.
I love Daniel Ricciardo at +175 against his teammate Lando Norris, even if this is the home Grand Prix for Norris and the other Brits on the grid, Ricciardo historically runs very well at Silverstone. Ricciardo has been gradually improving in the McLaren, and in a flat out sprint, I think Danny Ric has the ability to pass his teammate and maybe even land himself in the top 5 behind the Red Bulls and Mercedes in some order.
At the front, Lewis Hamilton is the betting favorite to capture the sprint race victory and claim pole position for Sunday’s big race at -150. A rare spot for Lewis this season given the dominance of the Red Bull, but definitely not unfamiliar territory for the man with more F1 wins than any other driver in the sport’s history.
News of the upgrades to the Mercedes and Lewis’s subsequent fastest time in qualifying probably draw that number, but I tend to think Max Verstappen and Red Bull figure it out and take the sprint and capture pole for Sunday. Verstappen is +125 at PointsBet, and I think you just have to jump at him at plus money here.
For the actual British Grand Prix on Sunday, there’s decent value out there with the odds between Hamilton and Verstappen closing. But I’ll start further down the grid with Fernando Alonso to finish in the points (top ten) at -140. Alonso has finished in the points in his last four races, and could very well climb into the top ten from the start during the sprint qualifying race.
Now for the winner. As much as I’d like to think Lewis and Mercedes have closed the gap to keep this F1 season exciting, I think the Red Bull will shine over the course of a race, as they have in the last five races.
Max Verstappen is +110 to win, and Red Bull as a team is -120 to win, and both are solid bets. I’d personally take the -120 for safety’s sake, and Sergio Perez has proven incredibly quick in the Red Bull. Taking the -120 keeps you alive even if Verstappen and Lewis wreck each other on turn one.
So there’s been a lot here, and thank you for sticking with me. Let’s recap:
- NASCAR Foxwoods Resort Casino 301: Kevin Harvick to win +1400
- F1 Sprint Race: Daniel Ricciardo head-to-head over Lando Norris +175, Max Vertstappen to win pole +125
- F1 British Grand Prix: Fernando Alonso top ten -140, Max Verstappen to win +110, Red Bull team to win -120
It’s a busier weekend, but we wouldn’t have it any other way. Let’s go racin’ folks.