Formula 1 sees surprising change after Bahrain opener

Sergio Perez, Red Bull, Formula 1 (Photo by Eric Alonso/Getty Images)
Sergio Perez, Red Bull, Formula 1 (Photo by Eric Alonso/Getty Images) /

Despite finishing second to Max Verstappen in a Formula 1 season opener dominated by Red Bull, Sergio Perez is listed outside the top five in the world championship odds.

Red Bull’s Max Verstappen picked up where he left off last year on Sunday at Bahrain International Circuit, winning the 2023 Formula 1 season-opening Bahrain Grand Prix in dominant fashion.

To nobody’s surprise, Verstappen was the favorite to win a third consecutive world championship entering the 2023 season. Following his dominance in his first race behind the wheel of the RB19, his odds have unsurprisingly shortened.

Now to win $100 on a Verstappen title, you need to bet $320 instead of the $175 you would have needed to bet before the season began.

But there is still somewhat of a surprise element to the change in the Formula 1 betting odds after the first of 23 races on the 2023 calendar.

Behind Verstappen at -325, there is now a three-way tie for second place in the odds at +1200 (bet $100 to win $1,200). That tie features Mercedes’ Lewis Hamilton, Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc, and Aston Martin’s Fernando Alonso. Behind them at +1900 is Mercedes’ George Russell.

Inexplicably, Red Bull’s Sergio Perez isn’t in the top five.

He finished just three points out of second place last year and opened up this season with a second place finish behind Verstappen, yet he is listed sixth at +2100. The only other driver not listed at +20000 is Ferrari’s Carlos Sainz Jr. at +4000.

In Sunday’s race, Perez finished nearly half a minute clear of the next closest non-Red Bull driver, and he is the only driver other than Verstappen who is driving the RB19, which appears to be far away the best car on the grid and perhaps even more dominant than last year’s RB18. And he did it on a weekend when many believed the car wasn’t as good as it could have been.

Are his chances to win the world championship really only sixth best?

You could argue that the first thing you need to do in order to win the title is beat your teammate, and Perez doing that over the course of a 23-race season isn’t something that many people feel he is capable of doing. He has three wins since joining Red Bull at the start of the 2021 season, and Verstappen has stood on the top step of the podium 26 times during that span.

Therefore, Perez is seen as less of a true championship threat than drivers on other teams whose cars will look to challenge the RB19 as the season progresses.

Even still, Perez is driving the fastest car on the grid, so to see him not even listed in the top five, especially after a rock solid second place effort to open up the season, is a bit surprising.

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The Saudi Arabian Grand Prix is the next race on the 2023 Formula 1 schedule, and it is scheduled to take place on Sunday, March 19. ESPN is set to broadcast the race live beginning at 1:00 p.m. ET. Start a free trial of FuboTV and don’t miss it!