Charles Leclerc favored in PointsBet odds for 2022 Saudi Arabian GP

PointsBet 2022 Saudi Arabian
Lars Baron / Getty Images

On the heels of his win in the season-opening Bahrain Grand Prix win, Charles Leclerc is this week’s odds favorite at PointsBet Sportsbook to take the 2022 Saudi Arabian Grand Prix, which is the second running of this race.

On Thursday, Leclerc showed odds of +140 for the Grand Prix and had a line of +130 to win Saturday’s pole. Leclerc won both the pole and race in Bahrain as Ferrari surged to a 1-2 finish. Leclerc was listed at +260 for that race.

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 Leclerc is $1.40 for the race and $1.30 if he wins the pole. For bettors more comfortable with fractional odds, a bet of +300 is the same as 3/1.

Leclerc’s race line is only marginally better than the 2021 Formula 1 champion Max Verstappen, who was posted Thursday at +150. Fuel pump issues for both Red Bull Racing cars forced their retirement in the closing laps in Bahrain, but Verstappen was second in last year’s edition of the Saudi Arabian Grand Prix after leading the most laps of 31.

Leclerc’s Ferrari teammate, Carlos Sainz, Jr. is the third ranked driver this week with a line of +450. No one else is under 10/1. Sainz finished second last week and had four podiums in 2021, but he is still seeking his first career F1 win.

Last year, Lewis Hamilton was heavily favored to win the inaugural race on the Jeddah Circuit with a line of -200, which meant the only way to make a successful bet was to find someone willing to take the opposite side. The traders were proved correct as Hamilton earned the victory over Verstappen. Hamilton finished third last week in Bahrain, but he has complained this season that the Mercedes lacks pace. The sportsbook traders seem to be listening.

Rounding out the top five at PointsBet for the 2022 Saudi Arabian Grand Prix is Verstappen’s teammate Sergio Perez with a line of +1800. Perez retired early from last year’s edition of this race when he was involved in a Lap 14 accident with George Russell and Nikita Mazepin.

One of the more interesting dark horses this week is Kevin Magnussen, who earned the first top-five for Haas F1 since he gave them two such finishes in 2016. Last year, the best finish for this car was 14th in the Grand Prix of Monaco with Mazepin behind the wheel and it is taking a while for the traders to catch up to his potential. Magnussen was posted at +10000 (100/1) on Thursday.

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Robert Wickens in the Indy 500? Bryan Herta making plans to field a car for next year

Robert Wickens Indy 500
Brett Farmer/LAT Images/IMSA

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. — Bryan Herta wants to enter Robert Wickens in the Indy 500 as early as 2024 – a year longer than preferred as work continues on the hand controls needed for the paralyzed driver.

Wickens suffered a spinal cord injury in a crash at Pocono Raceway in his 2018 IndyCar rookie season. He’s worked as a driver coach for the Arrow McLaren IndyCar team since, but last year with Bryan Herta Autosport and Hyundai returned to racing in the IMSA Michelin Pilot Challenge.

The 33-year-old Canadian won a pair of races (including the season opener at Daytona) driving a Hyundai Elantra N-TCR that is fitted for Wickens to race strictly through hand controls. Herta said Thursday that perfecting that technology for an Indy car in the biggest race in the world has slowed the project he’s determined to do with Wickens.

‘I’M AS HUNGRY AS EVER’: Robert Wickens’ return to racing

“I’d love to take Robbie back to Indy because I know he could do that, and I think that would be a next step for him in his journey,” Herta told The Associated Press. “We’ve spent a lot of time looking at the logistical side of things, hand controls, and I think we have solutions for that.”

Herta said Honda has been supportive of the process, which Herta called “one of the most important things we’ve done in racing” last year.

“We actually looked at doing it this year, but the logistics of it, the timing, it just wasn’t enough,” Herta said. “That’s not something you can rush. There’s some things that we have to work very closely with IndyCar on, and things we just have to get right. It’s a process, but I can see a path to it.”

Wickens, when told his boss was openly discussing the Indy 500, grinned widely. Herta as a team owner won the Indianapolis 500 with Dan Wheldon and Alexander Rossi.

“That’d be fun,” he said of running the Indy 500.

But like Herta, Wickens said the effort has to be both done correctly and be competitive.

“We’d like to do it right. If we started right now, can we get a car ready for the open test in April? Probably,” Wickens told The AP. “But I don’t know where the systems would be and I want to get on proper simulators to make sure its correct.

“We all want to do a proper, professional effort,” he added. “I don’t want to do it for a marketing campaign. I want to do it for a chance to win.”

Wickens later tweeted about the possibility of racing the Indy 500 and said his goal was “always to get back to the top level of motorsport” whether it’s IndyCar or IMSA.

Wickens in 2021 did a demonstration in Canada that marketed advancements for paralyzed drivers and gave him a chance to again drive. His entire life had been upended 14 races into his rookie IndyCar season, just three months after winning top rookie honors at the Indianapolis 500.

Wickens has since married, returned to racing last year and welcomed the birth of his first child, an son named Wesley whom is infatuated with both race cars and the trip to Disney he took this week during the off days at Daytona International Speedway.

Wickens, who uses a wheelchair but can stand with some support, marks a full year back racing on Friday in the season-opening IMSA Michelin Pilot Challenge race. Despite success last season, Herta made changes to his lineups and Wickens this year will be teamed with Harry Gottsacker.