McLaren’s resurgence makes them an interesting option to consider in the Formula 1 championship fights excluding Red Bull, even with a huge deficit to make up.
McLaren opened up the 2023 Formula 1 season looking like arguably the slowest team on the grid, but things have changed in a big way in recent races.
Earlier than initially expected, they introduced a set of upgrades on the MCL60 of Lando Norris at the Red Bull Ring, and he rewarded them with a fourth place finish in the Austrian Grand Prix.
Then ahead of the British Grand Prix at Silverstone Circuit, McLaren implemented these upgrades on rookie Oscar Piastri’s car as well. Norris qualified and finished in second place, while Piastri qualified in third and finished in fourth. He would have finished on the podium if not for a late safety car.
All things considered, the Woking-based team now look like the clear second best Formula 1 team on the grid.
Hopefully you took our advice on longshot bets before the British Grand Prix, because it’s hard to envision Norris, Piastri, or McLaren having individual race odds quite as long as they were before this 52-lap race around the 18-turn, 3.661-mile (5.892-kilometer) Great Britain road course.
While some may view the British Grand Prix as a bit of an outlier, given the fact that the race was one of the most exciting and competitive races during the first season of the new rules and regulations last year, the fact that Norris performed well with his upgrades in Austria shows that this was no fluke; McLaren are for real.
The fact that Piastri clearly wasn’t in over his head in what was his first real opportunity in a competitive car is also a great sign for the future.
With that in mind, what is McLaren’s upside for the rest of the 2023 Formula 1 season?
FanDuel Sportsbook, which is now offering Formula 1 fans an instant $200 just for placing a single $20 bet on any driver, lists odds for both the driver championship (excluding Max Verstappen) and the constructor championship (excluding Red Bull).
Red Bull’s Sergio Perez is the favorite in the former at -200, while Mercedes are the favorites in the latter at -130.
But considering longshot bets on Norris (+20000) and McLaren (+10000) in these categories would not be all that bad of an idea.
We’re talking about $1 potentially winning $200 and $100, respectively, on what currently look like the driver and team to beat in the “best of the rest” battle.
There are still 12 races and four sprint races remaining on the 2023 schedule, meaning that more than half of the season’s points remain up for grabs. Additionally, McLaren expect even more gains from their latest upgrades. Can they seriously mount a challenge to Verstappen and Red Bull in the upcoming races?
Norris is currently 114 points behind Perez for second place in the driver standings, but that’s not as big of a gap as it might seem when you consider the fact that Perez’s gap to Verstappen is almost just as wide at 99 points.
As for McLaren, they are 144 points behind Mercedes for second place in the constructor standings. Again, it’s not as wide of a gap as it seems when you take into account the fact that Mercedes trail Red Bull by 208 points — more points than Mercedes have actually scored.
Are Norris and McLaren likely to finish best behind Verstappen and Red Bull, respectively? Absolutely not. But given their recent resurgence, things could get relatively interesting, and for that reason, these longshot odds provide the best value among any serious longshot odds in the sport at this stage in the season.