Max Verstappen is a huge favorite in Saudi Arabia

BAHRAIN INTERNATIONAL CIRCUIT, BAHRAIN – MARCH 05: Max Verstappen, Red Bull Racing RB19 during the Bahrain Grand Prix at Bahrain International Circuit on Sunday March 05, 2023 in Sakhir, Bahrain. (Photo by Michael Potts/BSR Agency/Getty Images)

Are you willing to bet against Max Verstappen in Saudi Arabia?

Verstappen is -200 to win Sunday’s Saudi Arabian Grand Prix (1 p.m. ET, ESPN) after his dominating victory in the season-opening Bahrain Grand Prix. Verstappen’s Red Bull teammate Sergio Perez finished second in that race and Red Bull was so good that Mercedes’ George Russell said Red Bull’s drivers should win every race this season.

It’s very likely Russell’s statement was hyperbolic. But underneath that hyperbole it was easy to see some truth. No one had anything for Red Bull in Bahrain.

Combine that race with a 10-place grid penalty in Sunday’s race for Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc and you get Verstappen at such short odds. Leclerc will start 10 spots lower than he qualifies because Ferrari is having to add a third control electronics component on his car already this season. The team replaced the component ahead of the Bahrain race and Leclerc’s car failed to make it to the finish. Teams are allowed to use two ECUs per season. Leclerc is now on his third ECU in two races.

Perez is +450 to win the race while Aston Martin’s Fernando Alonso is +800 after his third-place finish in Bahrain.

Here are a few of the bets we like ahead of the race weekend. We’re hoping for a rebound after a poor start to the season.

Max Verstappen to win the race (-200)

We’re going with the K.I.S.S. philosophy here. No reason to overthink and overcomplicate things unnecessarily even though Verstappen has been dealing with a stomach bug this week.

Alex Albon to finish ahead of Yuki Tsunoda (-140)

Albon scored a point in Bahrain as the Williams looked better than it was a season ago.

Verstappen to win pole (+120)

Ferrari could have the single-lap pace to keep up with Red Bull once again but it’s worth taking Verstappen at positive odds.

Lando Norris to finish ahead of Pierre Gasly (+125)

Norris had a fast car during the race when it was on the track. We’re betting McLaren’s reliability issues are fixed for this weekend.

Charles Leclerc to post the race’s fastest lap (+450)

The speeds in Jeddah make us wonder if a driver will get the fastest lap with the aid of DRS. Leclerc starting in the middle of the pack at best helps his odds there.