Lewis Hamilton favored in PointsBet odds for Saudi Arabian GP

PointsBet Odds Saudi Arabian
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After winning back-to-back in Brazil and Qatar, Lewis Hamilton has assumed the role of odds favorite at PointsBet Sportsbook to win the inaugural Saudi Arabian Grand Prix.

Hamilton’s favored status is a reversal of the past three weeks when Max Verstappen was a heavy favorite for the Qatar Grand Prix, the Brazilian Grand Prix and the Mexican Grand Prix. With wins in the last two races, Hamilton has closed the gap to eight points with two races remaining. With momentum on his side, PointsBet has now made Hamilton the favorite to win the title and this weekend’s race.

Hamilton enters the race with minus odds in both categories. His line to win the Saudi Arabia GP was -200 on Wednesday with odds of winning the championship listed at -175. That means the only way to have a profitable bet is to get someone to take the opposite side.

Hamilton now has seven wins in 2021 to Verstappen’s nine, but to take the title, he may need to run the table and win the next two events because Verstappen has finished second or better in eight of the last nine races. The only time Verstappen failed to stand on the podium in that span of races was at Monza when he and Hamilton crashed as they battled for position adn failed to finish. Verstappen is listed with +260 odds to win the Saudi Arabian GP and +135 to win the championship.

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 this week for Verstappen is $2.60 for the race and $1.35 for the championship. For bettors more comfortable with fractional odds, a bet of +300 is the same as 3/1.

No other driver is in contention to win the Driver’s Title.

It has been five races since a driver other than Hamilton or Verstappen won and the odds reflect as much. Valtteri Bottas took the checkers in the Turkish GP, where he faced odds of +1800. This week the traders at PointsBet are being a little more cautious and Bottas is listed at +1300. He has only one top-five finish in his last three starts, which was a third in Brazil. Prior to that, Bottas earned four top-fives and a sixth in five previous races.

Entering the weekend with a five-race top-five streak, Sergio Perez is listed at +2500. He finished third in three consecutive races from Turkey through Mexico and was fourth in his last two attempts.

There is a huge drop off to the fifth-ranked driver. Charles Leclerc is listed at +7000 for the outright win on benefit of six top-fives in his last eight starts. He was eighth in the most recent race at Qatar.

Fernando Alonso scored an emotional podium in Qatar when he crossed under the checkers third behind Hamilton and Verstappen. That had not appreciably helped his odds, however, and he is listed at +25000 for the outright win.

Esteban Ocon rounded out the top-five in the most recent GP. This week, he faces odds of +30000.

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New Chip Ganassi driver Marcus Armstrong will team with boyhood idol Scott Dixon

Marcus Armstrong Scott Dixon
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Marcus Armstrong was a Scott Dixon fan his entire life, and when he was 8, the aspiring young racer asked his fellow New Zealander to autograph a helmet visor that he hung on his bedroom wall.

Next year, Armstrong will be Dixon’s teammate.

Armstrong was named Friday as the fourth IndyCar driver in the Chip Ganassi Racing lineup and will pilot the No. 11 next season on road and street courses.

A driver for the five oval races on the 17-race schedule will be named later.

The No. 11 is essentially the No. 48 that seven-time NASCAR champion Jimmie Johnson drove the last two seasons, with Chip Ganassi making the change to run four cars numbered in sequential order. Indianapolis 500 winner Marcus Ericsson drives the No. 8, six-time champion Dixon drives the No. 9, and 2020 IndyCar champion Alex Palou drives the No. 10.

So just who is the second Kiwi in the Ganassi lineup?

A 22-year-old who spent the past three seasons in Formula One feeder series F2, a Ferrari development driver in 2021, and former roommate of Callum Illot and former teammate of Christian Lundgaard – both of whom just completed their rookie IndyCar seasons.

“I’ve always been attracted to the IndyCar championship because it’s one of those championships that’s been really well televised in New Zealand since I was young, mainly because of Scott and his success,” Armstrong told The Associated Press. “As time progressed, as I got closer to F1 and single-seaters, the attraction to IndyCar grew just because of how competitive the championship is – I like to challenge myself and the level of competition in IndyCar is remarkably high.”

Armstrong, from Christchurch, New Zealand, was set to travel from his current home in London to Indianapolis this weekend to meet his new team. He won’t need an introduction to Dixon, the 42-year-old considered the best IndyCar driver of his generation and Armstrong’s unequivocal childhood hero.

Last season, Dixon earned his 53rd career victory to pass Mario Andretti for second on the all-time list. Dixon has driven for Ganassi in all but 23 of his 345 career starts.

“For a long time I’ve been a Scott Dixon fan. I don’t want to make him cringe with our age difference,” Armstrong told the AP.

Despite the two-decade age difference, Armstrong never considered someday racing with Dixon a fantasy.

He convinced his father after winning five national karting championships to allow him to leave New Zealand for Italy at age 14, where he moved by himself to pursue a racing career. Armstrong said as soon as he’d received parental permission, he’d never look back.

Armstrong was in Formula 4 two years after his move to Italy and won that title in his first season. He won four races and four poles in F3 in the 2018 and 2019 seasons, then collected four wins and eight podiums in three seasons of F2.

“Maybe it’s a strength, or maybe it’s a weakness, but I always thought I was capable of doing great in the sport,” Armstrong told the AP. “I think you probably have to succeed in the sport, you need to believe in yourself. I always pictured myself being in IndyCar.

“As Scott’s teammate? I can’t specifically say I saw that. It’s an extraordinary chain of events.”

Armstrong becomes just the latest driver to leave Europe, where F1 is the pinnacle but has only 20 seats each year. Alexander Rossi began the trend in 2016 when the American left F1 and won the Indianapolis 500 as a rookie. He’s been followed by Ericsson, last season’s Indy 500 winner, Romain Grosjean, Illot, Lundgaard, and on Thursday three-time W Series champion and Williams F1 reserve driver Jamie Chadwick was announced as driver for Andretti Autosport in IndyCar’s second-tier development series.

Armstrong said he could have remained in F2 for a fourth season, but he’d been watching IndyCar for so long, and after conversations with Illot and Lundgaard, he decided to make the move to what he believes is the most balanced racing series in the world. He tested for Dale Coyne Racing at Sebring in October.

He doesn’t know if European racing is done for good, just that he wants to be in IndyCar right now.

“I don’t want to think too far into the future, I’m just grateful for this opportunity that is standing right in front of me,” Armstrong said. “I want to perform as well as I can in the near future and just consolidate myself in the fantastic chance that is IndyCar and just do my best.

“I’m not looking at F1 as a landing spot – I am looking at IndyCar, and that’s exactly why I am here.”