F1 Bahrain Grand Prix predictions, best bets and picks: Verstappen favored to begin season with a bang
Let’s go! The 2023 F1 season is getting ready for Lights Out at the Bahrain Grand Prix at the Sakhir Circuit. It’s been the season-opening circuit for a few years now, but that doesn’t stop the excitement building — especially following the release of Season 5 of Drive To Survive on Netflix.
Let’s dive into the odds, the track and the prop bets that I’m targeting for the Bahrain GP on Sunday.
Bahrain Grand Prix Track Layout And Stats
The tight, technical and challenging Hermann Tilke layout that is the Bahrain International Circuit, known as Sakhir, is a very interesting track to start the season. There are chances for overtaking along the 15-turn, 5.4-km layout with 3 DRS zones. However, it’s also challenging on teams to get the balance and setup right with temperature changes that happen over the course of the weekend and even the race itself. There is a lot of runoff area around the circuit which should mitigate the chance of a full safety car rather than a virtual safety car during the 57-lap event. If a setup on a car is correct we can get surprises here, but the edge goes to the teams that can build the car for race pace rather than quick bursts of speed early in a run and control the tire degradation.
Qualifying is important at this track, but it’s certainly not the most important track for qualifying; passing does happen during the race. Expect teams to use a 2-pit strategy unless there is a relatively early VSC and then they may try and leg it out on one pit stop and hard tires.
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2023 Bahrain GP Winner Predictions
All odds posted are from DraftKings Sportsbook unless otherwise noted
Max Verstappen (-140)
How can I not pick him as the favorite? Sure, he had problems here last year but he was leading — convincingly — before his engine died. Since that race, though, Red Bull didn’t have much go wrong for them all year and he’s back this year with speed once more. The race pace in Verstappen’s Red Bull looks like the class of the field as he got faster the longer he ran in testing, FP1 and FP2. Most of his wins last year didn’t come from the pole, either, so it likely won’t matter much if he’s not there following Saturday’s qualifying.
Fernando Alonso (+350)
Talk about the surprise of the early season, huh? Alonso has been very fast in his Aston Martin so far through testing and both practice sessions. In fact, he has outpaced Verstappen by the same amount in each of FP1 and FP2. If he has the speed to stay in touch with Verstappen, or even ahead of him, he has the skills and ability to get his elbows out — as they say — to make it a real battle for the lead in the closing laps. Let’s not forget he has a pretty good history here, too.
Charles Leclerc (+1000)
Leclerc won this race a year ago — 1 of the only bright spots for Ferrari much of the year. However, to be fair he was handed the win when the Red Bulls stopped working. Now he comes in to this race with solid speed, but not lightning quick like they showed at the start of last year, and the skill to get more out of the car than it can likely deliver. If Ferrari can have a clean race weekend, Leclerc could find himself in a position to capitalize on another issue from a competitor to take the checkered flag.
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F1 Bahrain GP Prop Bet Picks
QUALIFYING PROP: Fernando Alonso Fastest Qualifier (+350)
We’re still getting plus money on Alonso landing P1 after Q3 despite how good he has looked to start the year. Seriously, he has outpaced Verstappen in mock qualifying runs in practice this weekend — including at FP2 which was in nearly identical conditions to what’s expected for Saturday’s qualifying. What a way that would be to kick off his 22nd season in F1.
Winning Margin Between 5 & 10 Seconds (+260)
It seems as though DraftKings expects it to be either close or a huge margin based on the odds. This margin, between 5-10 seconds, is the longest odds of the prop despite this outcome happening 3 times more in the last 10 races as a 10+ second margin has. This bet has to do with race flow and presuming that the leader will start to edge out their lead in the closing laps as tires begin to fall off late in runs. However, if you see the race as coming down to a closer finish — like it has 6 times in the last 10 races here — then you can take the Under 5 Seconds margin at -105.
Number of Classified Finishers Over 17.5 (+175)
Over the last 4 races at Bahrain there have been either 1 or 2 drivers to be not classified by the end of the race. If that trend holds true once more, we would be in line to see 18 or more cars finish the race as classified. The thing we’re hoping to avoid with this prop is accidents and mechanical issues that pop up early in the season. Even so, we still have no more than 2 drivers a race fail to classify even with the chaos that can sometimes happen in Bahrain.
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