Valtteri Bottas seeking rebound in Belgium as F1 title hopes fade

F1 Valtteri Bottas title
Clive Mason - Formula 1/Formula 1 via Getty Images

SPA-FRANCORCHAMPS, Belgium — Valtteri Bottas is at a loss to explain why his latest F1 title challenge is fading even faster than it did last season.

The Finnish driver vowed that he could challenge Lewis Hamilton for the Formula One championship this year, as he said last year. But after six races he is already 43 points behind Hamilton, and Red Bull’s Max Verstappen has leapfrogged Bottas into second place in the standings.

“It’s far from ideal … (the gap is) way too big and I can see again the championship drifting away,” Bottas said. “I don’t know the reason for now. At this point it’s difficult to say, maybe when time goes on I can say. But for now, no, I have no answer.”

Bottas won the season opener in Austria from pole position and has pushed Hamilton closely in qualifying. He also re-signed last month with the Mercedes-AMG Petronas F1 Team (which still is in talks with extending Hamilton).

“I had a good start in the first race and the pace (in) every single race,” Bottas said. “Qualifying has been super-close every single time with Lewis. Small margins.”

But on the track, those small margins have expanded as Hamilton has reaffirmed his superiority over his teammate.

“Honestly I don’t (know why). At this moment I can’t say,” Bottas said. “There were a couple of (expletive) races for me in Silverstone, with bad luck.”

Bottas scored no points at the British GP on Aug. 2 because his tires shredded near the end, while Hamilton only punctured his tire on the last lap and he managed to hold on for victory.

But despite that particular incident of bad luck, the way Bottas’ challenge is fading is all too familiar.

Bottas led Hamilton by one point after four races last season, having won two of them, but was 17 behind after the sixth race. His season started unraveling as Hamilton pulled away to a sixth title and Bottas ended up a whopping 87 points behind the veteran British driver in second place.

With 11 races left this season, the gap could become colossal unless Bottas finds a way to turn things around, starting at Spa on Sunday.

A win for Hamilton, meanwhile, would move him onto 89 victories overall and just two behind Ferrari great Michael Schuamcher’s F1 record. Hamilton is also odds-on favorite to match the German driver’s record of seven F1 titles.

The 7-kilometer (4.3-mile) track cuts through the thick Ardennes forest and is one of most iconic in F1, with its long straights and famed corners such as Eau Rouge. It is known as a power circuit, with about 65% of the race spent at full throttle, yet Mercedes has not won the past two races.

Those went to Ferrari, with Charles Leclerc dedicating his win last year to Frenchman Anthoine Hubert, who died the day before after a heavy crash in an F2 race.

Hubert’s mother and brother held his racing helmet in their hands as teams and drivers stood alongside them with heads bowed in the paddock before the F1 race. After his victory, Leclerc pointed to the sky in memory of his fallen friend.

“Spa-Francorchamps has a special place in my heart,” Leclerc said. “While it is here that I took my first win, it is also where we lost our friend Anthoine last year. He will be in our thoughts.”

Frenchman Pierre Gasly, who drives for the AlphaTauri team, knew Hubert from an early age.

“We were in the same school together organized by the French motorsport federation, from when I was 13 to 19, and we shared an apartment for six years,” Gasly said. “I think everyone in the paddock will take time to think of him.”

Max Verstappen is PointsBet favorite to score sixth staight in 2022 Singapore Grand Prix

PointsBet 2022 Singapore odds
Mark Thompson / Getty Images

Max Verstappen is the PointsBet Sportsbook odds favorite to win the 2022 Singapore Grand Prix on the Marina Bay Street course to stretch his current win streak to six consecutive. He shows odds of -200 this week.

Formula 1 did not compete in Singapore in 2020 or 2021 due to the COVID-19 pandemic, but Verstappen has podium finishes in his last two attempts on this track. he was second in 2018 and third in 2019. In the first 15 races of this season, he has failed to stand on the podium only twice and has an average finish of 2.73.

With minus odds, the way to determine a payout is by subtraction. In order for a bettor to earn $100, he must wager $200 this week; with that wager, he will get back his initial stake and winnings of $100.

For bettors more comfortable with fractional odds, a bet of +300 is the same as 3/1.

Charles Leclerc is ranked second this week with +400 odds. He has two previous Singapore GP starts to his credit with a best of second in 2019. He is coming off back-to-back podium finishes with a third in the Dutch GP and a second at Monza.

Ranked third is Carlos Sainz, Jr. with a line of +1100. He has top-five finishes in four of his last five starts, but only one of these, a third in the Belgian GP, was on the podium. Sainz is one of four winners other than Verstappen this season. His victory came in the British GP.

Lewis Hamilton shows a line of +1200. His last win came last fall in the Saudi Arabian GP and the Mercedes team has struggled to contend for victory in 2022. They are improving, however, with eight top-fives in the last nine races. Hamilton has two wins in his last three Singapore starts, which came in 2017 and 2018.

Rounding out the top five is Hamilton’s teammate George Russell at +1800. He has not won, but has shown remarkable consistency with top-fives in all but one race. Notably, his only bad finish came in his home GP in England. Russell has one previous start at Marina Bay; he finished last in the 2019 race. He finished fourth in 2019 as part of a four-race streak of top-fives.

The most recent Singapore GP winner from 2019, Sebastian Vettel is a longshot at +50000.

PointsBet is our Official Sports Betting Partner, and we may receive compensation if you place a bet on PointsBet for the first time after clicking our links.

Italian GP Odds
Dutch GP Odds
Belgium GP Odds
French GP Odds
Austrian GP Odds
Canadian GP Odds
Azerbaijan GP Odds
Monaco GP Odds
Spanish GP Odds
Miami GP Odds
Saudi Arabian GP odds
Australian GP odds
Romagna GP Odds