However, many fans have already turned their attention to the chasing pack.
Lewis Hamilton faces a battle to beat Red Bull’s Sergio Perez to second in the Driver’s Championship.
Meanwhile, The Silver Arrows are also locked in a fierce battle with former title rivals Ferrari in their battle for Constructor’s runner-up.
Read on to explore why a 11/2 tip has caught the eye in Qatar.
Hamilton hunts Perez
Hamilton arrives in Lusail having closed to within 33 points of Perez.
He returns to the scene of his last F1 victory in 2021, an event that he dominated in both qualifying and on race day.
The seven-time champion insists finishing runner up to Verstappen is not important to him.
However, given Mercedes’ inconsistent pace, the achievement will likely provide some personal satisfaction as well as hope ahead of 2024.
The smooth track surface in Qatar promises to suit Mercedes’ car, which has, once again, suffered from porpoising at certain points.
Saturday’s sprint race also provides an additional opportunity to close the gap on Perez, whose poor form continued with retirement in Japan.
Based on this evidence, Hamilton stands a good chance of reducing the points deficit this weekend.
Old rivals reunited
Elsewhere, Hamilton’s Mercedes team face stern competition for second in the Constructor’s Championship from former title rivals.
The incentive to finish as runner-up to Red Bull promises to benefit Hamilton in his own pursuit of Perez.
Ferrari have gained recent ground with two podium finishes in three races, including a victory in Singapore.
As a result, Mercedes will be highly motivated to recover this deficit at the Qatar Grand Prix this weekend.
Expect Hamilton to lead the team once again and deliver crucial points in both standings.
Hamilton 11/2 to finish runner-up
Backing Hamilton to finish second to Verstappen in the championship represents good value ahead of the Qatar race weekend.
Perez appeared to be finding form following a podium in Monza.
However, the Mexican may be low on confidence after his last two races.
Red Bull are not expected to bring any more major performance upgrades after clinching the constructor’s crown in Japan, leaving Perez to rely on his own performance.
In contrast, Hamilton heads into the final six races with a highly motivated team.
The remaining rounds of season suggest favourable circuits for Mercedes.
A trip to Brazil in November carries decent hopes after their sole win of 2022, whilst a first venture to Las Vegas promises an unpredictable contest for all teams.
With a performance upgrade rumoured to be introduced in Texas, Hamilton has the tools available to overhaul his rivals.
Despite Verstappen cruising towards his third consecutive title, the battle behind could go right down to the wire.
Lewis Hamilton is 11/2 with William Hill to finish second in the standings.
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