Lewis Hamilton is PointsBet F1 French GP favorite

PointsBet F1 French GP
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With odds slightly above even money, Lewis Hamilton is the early PointsBet F1 French GP favorite.

Formula 1 returned to Paul Ricard Stadium in 2018 for the first time in nearly three decades. Hamilton won both the 2018 and 2019 races there and is listed with odds of +105 for Sunday’s race. The 2020 edition of this race was not run because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Hamilton has three victories in six races this season with the most recent coming in the Spanish Grand Prix in early May.

One way to view American Odds is to move the decimal point two positions to the left. That will let a bettor know what they will make on a $1 bet, so the return on investment for this week for Hamilton is $1.05. For bettors more comfortable with fractional odds, a bet of +300 is the same as 3/1.

With a narrow lead in the points standings, Max Verstappen is the next favorite at +185. Verstappen has two wins and five podium finishes this year. Hamilton has been on the podium four times.

Anyone who watched last week’s Azerbaijan Grand Prix knows how unpredictable racing can be, however. With only a handful of laps remaining in the race at Baku, Verstappen cut a tire and made heavy contact with the wall. Formula 1 red flagged the race to allow the other competitors to change tires. On the restart, Hamilton made a rare mistake and failed to brake in time for the first corner.

As a result, both Hamilton and Verstappen failed to earn any points. It was the first time in 55 races that Hamilton finished outside the points.

Hamilton’s teammate Valtteri Bottas is ranked third this week with odds of +625. Bottas finished second in the 2019 French GP. In six starts this season, he has three podium finishes.

Verstappen’s teammate Sergio Perez won his second F1 race in his last eight starts with odds of +1000. This week he is listed at +1100. His other victory came late last season in Bahrain behind the wheel of a Racing Point Mercedes.

George Russell rounds out the top five with odds of +1500. Russell has not yet scored atop 10 this season, nor has he finished on the lead lap.

No other driver has odds of better than 25/1.

Charles Leclerc is listed at +2800 for the French GP. He won the pole for the last two F1 races when qualification was abbreviated by an accident both times. He was the cause of the qualification accident in the Grand Prix of Monaco and failed to start the race when his car was not repaired in time. Leclerc finished fourth in Baku last week.

Sebastian Vettel finished second in last week’s Azerbaijan Grand Prix. This week he is listed at +12500. Those long odds for the outright win drag his odds of scoring a podium finish to +1800. Vettel has one other top-five finish this year, which came at Monaco.

Pierre Gasly took the final podium position in Baku. He has earned one podium in each of the last three years. His outright odds to win this week are +6000.

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For more betting coverage, check out NBC Sports Edge.

Cadillac, Acura battle for top speed as cars back on track for Rolex 24 at Daytona practice

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DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. – The new hybrid prototypes of Cadillac and Acura battled atop the speed chart as practice resumed Thursday for the Rolex 24 at Daytona.

Chip Ganassi Racing driver Richard Westbrook was fastest Thursday afternoon in the No. 02 Cadillac V-LMDh with a 1-minute, 35.185-second lap around the 12-turn, 3.56-mile road course at Daytona International Speedway.

That pace topped Ricky Taylor’s 1:35.366 lap that topped the Thursday morning session that marked the first time the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship was back on track since qualifying Sunday afternoon that concluded the four-day Roar Before The Rolex 24 test.

In a final session Thursday night, Matt Campbell was fastest (1:35.802) in the No. 7 Porsche Penske Motorsports Porsche 963 but still was off the times set by Westbrook and Taylor.

Punctuated by Tom Blomqvist’s pole position for defending race winner Meyer Shank Racing, the Acura ARX-06s had been fastest for much of the Roar and led four consecutive practice sessions.

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But the times have been extremely tight in the new Grand Touring Prototype (GTP) category that has brought hybrid engines to IMSA’s premier class. Only 0.9 seconds separated the nine LMDh cars in GTP in qualifying, and though the spread slightly widened to 1.378 seconds in Thursday’s practices with teams on varying strategies and preparation, Westbrook still pooh-poohed the importance of speeds.

“It’s always nice to be at the top, but I don’t think it means too much or read too much into it” Westbrook said. “Big fuel tanks in the GTP class this year, so you have no idea what fuel levels people are running. We had a good run, and the car is really enjoyable to drive now. I definitely wasn’t saying that a month ago.

“It really does feel good now. We are working on performance and definitely unlocking some potential, and it just gives us more confidence going into the race. It’s going to be super tight. Everyone’s got the same power, everyone has the same downforce, everyone has the same drag levels and let’s just go race.”

Because teams have put such a premium on reliability, handling mostly has suffered in the GTPs, but Westbrook said the tide had turned Thursday.

“These cars are so competitive, and you were just running it for the sake of running it in the beginning, and there’s so much going on, you don’t really have time to work on performance,” he said. “A lot of emphasis was on durability in the beginning, and rightly so, but now finally we can work on performance, and that’s the same for other manufacturers as well. But we’re worrying about ourselves and improving every run, and I think everybody’s pretty happy with their Cadillac right now.”

Mike Shank, co-owner of Blomqvist’s No. 60 on the pole, said his team still was facing reliability problems despite its speed.

“We address them literally every hour,” Shank said. “We’re addressing some little thing we’re doing better to try to make it last. And also we’re talking about how we race the race, which will be different from years past.

“Just think about every system in the car, I’m not going to say which ones we’re working on, but there are systems in the car that ORECA and HPD are continually trying to improve. By the way, sometimes we put them on the car and take them off before it even goes out on the track because something didn’t work with electronics. There’s so much programming. So many departments have to talk to each other. That bridge gets broken from a code not being totally correct, and the car won’t run. Or the power steering turns off.”

Former Rolex 24 winner Renger van der Zande of Ganassi said it still is a waiting game until the 24-hour race begins Saturday shortly after 1:30 p.m.

“I think the performance of the car is good,” van der Zande said. “No drama. We’re chipping away on setup step by step and the team is in control. It’s crazy out there what people do on the track at the moment. It’s about staying cool and peak at the right moment, and it’s not the right moment yet for that. We’ll keep digging.”


PRACTICE RESULTS:

Click here for Session I (by class)

Click here for Session II (by class)

Click here for Session III (by class)

Combined speeds