As Formula 1 departs the shores of the Americas after races in Austin, Mexico City and Sao Paulo, F1 moves to the Middle East for the final leg of the 2021 season, beginning with this weekend’s inaugural Qatar Grand Prix at the Losail International Circuit.
Hot off the heels of one of Lewis Hamilton’s great race wins at Interlagos only days ago, the seven-time world champion has closed the gap on Max Verstappen to 14 points, after a stunning drive from 10th to take the chequered flag in Brazil.
As the Briton seeks history and an eighth F1 title in the coming weeks, Hamilton has still got his work cut out to overhaul the pretender to his throne in the Dutchman, but after changing his power unit, the signs are there that both he and Mercedes might be entering the pivotal final straight with the better set-up. Indeed, the bookies believe that also with the seven-time champion 8/11 with SpreadEx and BetFred to pick up successive F1 wins on Sunday.
Verstappen, meanwhile, looking set to further extend his championship points lead would have been chastened after seeing Hamilton pull off a stunning win in Brazil, and the Red Bull driver has now lengthened for victory in Qatar, again at 6/4 with SpreadEx and Betfred, having now shortened.
The faster car at Interlagos, Mercedes will look to carry over their improved set-up to the Middle East. Only denied the fastest lap bonus point via Sergio Perez’ final lap run last time out, Hamilton may take some stopping to clock the weekend’s fastest time, but both he and Verstappen are priced at 2s to do so, each with BoyleSport. For Hamilton to secure pole and to win the GP meanwhile, SkyBet’s boosted 7/4 is also worth consideration.
In the battle for third in the Constructors Championship, Ferrari took a sizeable step towards a P3 in Abu Dhabi with a top-six double in Sao Paulo, now holding a 31.5-point advantage over McLaren. If the Woking manufacturer hope to remain in the picture, a big weekend is needed in Losail and Lando Norris looks like being the biggest source of a points haul, at a favourably priced 11/2 with MansionBet to podium.
Further down the field meanwhile, one of the most in-form drivers of late has been Pierre Gasly. Having finished P6 or better in six of the nine races since Hungary, the Frenchman came home fourth and seventh in the last two races. Second-fastest during first practice in Qatar, Gasly looks set to make another impression and to finish P6 or better here, BoyleSport’s 11/10 could be easy money.