There are just two points separating Mercedes star Lewis Hamilton and Red Bull counterpart Max Verstappen heading into this week’s Turkish Grand Prix, where the title race could take another twist.
Reigning world champion Hamilton returned to the top of the Drivers’ Championship following his victory in Russia last time out, but Verstappen, who started from the back of grid after taking an engine penalty, was able to limit the damage at the Sochi Autodrom by coming through the pack to finish second.
Mercedes have indicated that Hamilton could take a similar engine penalty in Istanbul, although the man himself has appeared to dismiss those calls, but if he were to start from the back of the grid, then it could open the door for Verstappen to prosper.
Hamilton Targeting Third Istanbul Success
It would be perhaps churlish to suggest that Sunday’s GP will be a two-horse race between Hamilton and Verstappen, with Sergio Perez, Esteban Ocon and Daniel Ricciardo having all topped the podium this season, but realistically all eyes will be on the title rivals.
Verstappen is priced at 4/5 to claim his eighth race victory of the season, but Hamilton could provide the value option at 29/20, although backing the Brit would obviously come with an element of risk given the speculation regarding him taking a grid penalty.
Hamilton has won twice before in Istanbul, first triumphing with McLaren in 2010 before taking the chequered flag with Mercedes last season upon the circuit’s return to F1 following a nine-year absence.
The 36-year-old’s victory in 2020 also saw him clinch his seventh world title, and although he cannot do similar on Sunday, another win would edge him closer to a record-breaking eighth championship success, which he can be backed to achieve at 11/10.
Notably, Hamilton’s victory last season was also secured in wet conditions, so with similar weather anticipated this weekend, the reigning champion could prove the one to beat.
Bottas Leading Podium Battle
Mercedes hold a 33-point lead over Red Bull in the Constructors’ Championship race and that advantage could be strengthened this week, with Hamilton’s Silver Arrows team-mate Valtteri Bottas looking well placed to secure a podium finish.
Bottas has claimed a top-three placing in two of his last three races in the Netherlands and Italy and he is priced at 20/29 to add another podium come Sunday.
McLaren could also be in the mix for the podium following some impressive recent performances, including in Russia last time out when Lando Norris appeared to be on course to claim his maiden race victory, only for the rain to scupper his plans late on.
Norris eventually had to make do with seventh place in Sochi, while team-mate Daniel Ricciardo came in fourth, but that still proved another strong showing for McLaren following their one-two finish at the Italian GP earlier in the month.
Further success could follow for McLaren this week, with Norris available at 29/10 to claim the sixth podium finish of his career, while Ricciardo is priced at 15/2.
*All odds correct at time of writing.