F1 descends upon Monte Carlo this weekend for the Monaco Grand Prix with recent history and the weather forecast pointing toward another Max Verstappen masterclass.
Verstappen, the two-time reigning series champion and 2021 Monaco winner, enters the weekend a +140 favorite for pole, a +125 favorite to win and -300 to finish on the podium according to BetMGM. Placing any or all of those wagers is likely to make money.
After crashing out of his first two Monaco races, he’s posted an average finish of 4.4. Verstappen has won three of the first five races to open the 2023 season. That track record and strong run of form combined with rain forecast for the weekend — Verstappen is imperious in wet conditions — make it hard to bet against the Dutchman.
If Verstappen emerges from Saturday’s qualifying on pole, it should be game, set, match. Qualifying is famously vital at Monaco — since 2010 there have been an average of 1.25 lead changes per race and on five of those occasions there haven’t been any. Rain would only exacerbate that.
Native son Charles Leclerc could be the foil as he’s posted the fastest time in qualifying the past two years, but has failed to convert either of those into a victory. In fact, he’s only managed to finish his home race once in four tries at the F1 level. He crashed in the waning moments of qualifying in 2021 while holding the top time and did not make it to the grid. Last year, Ferrari strategy — as it often tends to — doomed the Monegasque driver.
But Ferrari’s and Leclerc’s luck have to change at some point, right? Yahoo Sports Canada’s Nick Ashbourne points to some persuasive data that suggests Ferrari’s qualifying pace and pit lane efficiency could propel them in Monaco.
Betting Verstappen may be too difficult to pass up — pun intended — but here are some alternative bets to consider. Be sure to keep an eye on the forecast and make your bets as close to session start times as possible!
Charles Leclerc to win pole +175
• As noted above, Leclerc has shown great one-lap pace around Monaco and also won pole on another street circuit — Baku — earlier in the season. Monaco’s twists and turns could simultaneously negate Red Bull’s straight line speed advantage and Ferrari’s tendency to drop back in races.
Any car other than Red Bull to win pole +110
• Consider this a corollary to the bet above, owing to Ferrari’s one-lap pace and Leclerc’s mastery of Monaco qualifying.
Pole margin 0.251s or more +250
• If qualifying is wet, this is worth locking in. In optimal conditions F1 qualifying margins are razor-thin, but with Verstappen, Leclerc and Lewis Hamilton all being incredible pilots in the rain, one could post a time well faster than their front-row counterpart.
Both Mercedes to finish in the points -200
• Hamilton’s average finish in Monaco is 4.5 and George Russell was fifth last year in his first Monaco race in Mercedes machinery. Mercedes also has its first major development upgrade going onto the cars this weekend.
Valtteri Bottas to finish in the points +200
• Bottas has a strong track record at Monaco with an average place of 8.2 in races he finishes there. He was ninth last year in his first season with Alfa Romeo and should be able to match or better that performance this time around again with a customer Ferrari power unit.