Formula 1: Top 3 Max Verstappen challengers identified for 2024

Max Verstappen is the heavy favorite to win a fourth Formula 1 world championship in 2024. Who has the best chance to challenge the Red Bull driver?
Max Verstappen, Lando Norris, Formula 1
Max Verstappen, Lando Norris, Formula 1 / ATPImages/GettyImages

After Max Verstappen recorded what was statistically the greatest Formula 1 season of all-time in 2023, many fans believe that the 2024 season will be more of a coronation than a competition as the three-time reigning world champion aims to make it four in a row.

In fact, his win total over the last two seasons is greater than any other driver's win total over any three-year stretch in the sport's history.

FanDuel Sportsbook, which is giving fans a $150 bonus for placing a winning a $5 bet, unsurprisngly lists Verstappen as the overwhelming favorite to win the 2024 world championship.

Verstappen is listed at -380, meaning that you'd have to bet $380 to win $100 if the 26-year-old Dutchman can win his fourth title this year.

But there are still a lot of unknowns surrounding the 2024 season as teams seek to challenge Verstappen and Red Bull following their historically dominant 2023 campaign.

Which drivers have the best chance to dethrone Verstappen? Here are the top three, according to the odds.

Lando Norris, McLaren: +900

After McLaren started the 2023 season looking like the one of the weakest teams on the grid, they made huge improvements and ended up emerging as the clear number two team behind Red Bull. Lando Norris took advantage, securing six runner-up finishes in the season's final 13 races.

Norris has long been viewed as a potential world champion if given the right equipment. But is he capable of challenging Verstappen? He has 13 career podium finishes, including seven last year. Verstappen, on the other hand, has 20 victories in seasons Red Bull did not win the constructor title, so Norris still has some work to do.

Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes: +1000

Lewis Hamilton is the most recent world champion other than Max Verstappen, and he nearly captured the 2021 title over Verstappen to become Formula 1's first eight-time champion. He had a bounce-back season in 2023 after being beaten by new teammate George Russell in 2022.

But Hamilton has already decided to move to Ferrari for the 2025 season, which may not inspire a ton of confidence in his championship chances with Mercedes in 2024 following back-to-back winless seasons.

Charles Leclerc, Ferrari: +1800

Charles Leclerc remains the most recent world championship leader not named Max Verstappen, having led the standings through each of the first five races of the 2022 season. In fact, Leclerc was actually the betting favorite to win the title amid his fast start two years ago. But Verstappen has been on top for all 39 races since, winning 31 of those races.

Things do seem to be trending upward for Ferrari heading into the 2024 season following a strong finish to the 2023 season which saw them consistently quicker than Mercedes, but the Tifosi have grown accustomed to it being "their year", only for them to come up short again and again.

Leclerc, who recently signed a multi-year contract extension, was also held winless in 2023, meaning that the three drivers who are believed to have the best chance to challenge Verstappen have combined for no wins since July 2022 (Leclerc in Austria). Verstappen has won 28 of 33 races since then.

Other notables: Oscar Piastri (+2200), George Russell (+2800), Sergio Perez (+2800), Fernando Alonso (+3200), Carlos Sainz Jr. (+4200)

Next. Formula 1: George Russell facing his most critical season at Mercedes. Formula 1: George Russell facing his most critical season at Mercedes. dark

The Bahrain Grand Prix is scheduled to get the 2024 season underway on Saturday, March 2. ESPN is set to provide live coverage from Bahrain International Circuit beginning at 9:55 p.m. ET. Begin a free trial of FuboTV and don't miss it!