Belgian F1 Grand Prix 2022: Odds, Preview and Top Storylines
The 2022 Formula One campaign resumes after a monthlong break at the Belgian Grand Prix on Sunday.
The storylines going into the race from on the track and off it are endless. Max Verstappen and Charles Leclerc will start near the back of the grid, Daniel Ricciardo is looking to finish his McLaren tenure on a high note and younger drivers are potentially fighting for spots at larger teams in 2023.
The drivers' championship race is not officially over, but Verstappen comes into Belgium with an 80-point advantage over Leclerc.
Leclerc's path to the championship is bleak at best, and it be will hard for him to gain separation on Sunday with he and Verstappen starting 16th and 15th respectively.
Red Bull's Sergio Perez and Ferrari's Carlos Sainz could be in a battle for the lead as their teammates Verstappen and Leclerc make their way through the field. Sainz will start on the pole with Perez next to him on the front row.
Leclerc and Verstappen are two of seven drivers that accrued penalties to fix power units and gear boxes ahead of Sunday's race. Valtteri Bottas, Zhou Guanyu, Esteban Ocon, Lando Norris and Mick Schumacher are all starting at the back of the grid as well.
The penalties could open up the possibility for a struggling team or driver to pick up points in Belgium. It could also allow Daniel Ricciardo or Fernando Alonso to pick up more points for their respective teams as their tenures with McLaren and Alpine begin to come to an end.
Belgian Grand Prix Odds
Max Verstappen (+185; bet $100 to win $185)
Carlos Sainz (+250)
Sergio Perez (+300)
Lewis Hamilton (+800)
George Russell (+1000)
Charles Leclerc (+1000)
Fernando Alonso (+6500)
Lando Norris (+15000)
Daniel Ricciardo (+25000)
Sebastian Vettel (+30000)
Lance Stroll (+30000)
Yuki Tsunoda (+50000)
Pierre Gasly (+50000)
Alex Albon (+50000)
Valtteri Bottas (+90000)
Mick Schumacher (+90000)
Zhou Guanyu (+90000)
Esteban Ocon (+90000)
Nicholas Latifi (+90000)
Kevin Magnussen (+90000)
Max Verstappen Looking to Win from Back of Field
Max Verstappen had the fastest car in the final round of qualifying.
That is no surprise to anyone who has watched Formula One this season. The drivers' championship leader has had the best pace for most of 2022.
Verstappen's pace is what could take him from 15th place on the starting grid to first crossing the finish line on Sunday.
The teams that decided to take penalties did so at Belgium because it is easier to overtake at the track compared to other circuits.
Verstappen has finished no lower than seventh in every race that he has completed this season. He can reach that spot on pace alone throughout the first half of the race.
Red Bull may be inclined to put Verstappen on an alternative pit strategy as well to help with his push up the grid and gain positions on Sergio Perez, Carlos Sainz and the Mercedes duo of George Russell and Lewis Hamilton.
The minimum expectation for Verstappen is to finish inside the top six with his pace and overtaking ability. It wouldn't be a surprise if he makes it onto the podium, though.
How Will Driver Exits Affect Midfield Battle?
A new set of wrinkles were added to the race for fourth in the constructors' championship during the summer break.
Fernando Alonso is set to leave Alpine for Aston Martin, who had a spot open up after Sebastian Vettel's retirement. Daniel Ricciardo's departure from McLaren was also announced earlier this week, but his future has yet to be determined.
Both drivers still have jobs to do in an attempt to put their respective sides ahead of the other to finish fourth behind Red Bull, Ferrari and Mercedes.
Alonso and Ricciardo will have extra pressure on them on Sunday since their teammates, Esteban Ocon and Lando Norris, are starting at the back of the grid.
Ricciardo needs a strong run in Belgium since he has just four top-10 finishes all season. Alonso has been more reliable for Alpine with eight straight top 10 placings.
Alonso has been more consistent than Ricciardo this season, and another showing better than the Australian would help Alpine create some separation in the constructors' championship.
Alonso also has the edge in starting position on the second row, with Ricciardo two rows back in seventh place.
Mercedes Sits in Ideal Spot to Continue Consistent Run
Mercedes has been the epitome of consistency in Formula One over the last few months.
Lewis Hamilton and George Russell have been regular fixtures in the top three, and they are in terrific positions to land podium finishes on Sunday.
Hamilton comes into Spa with five straight podium finishes, while Russell landed back-to-back spots in the top three before the summer break.
Due to the penalties across the grid, Hamilton will start on the second row and Russell will begin on the third row.
Hamilton and Russell could use fast starts to get past Alonso and challenge Sainz and Perez for the top two positions before Verstappen and Leclerc get close to them.
A strong day in Belgium could even draw Mercedes closer to Ferrari in the constructors' championship.
Mercedes closed the gap to 30 points before the summer break, and it could shrink further if Mercedes remain consistent and Ferrari has issues getting Leclerc past Hamilton and Russell.
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