Saudi Arabian Grand Prix Win Simulations: Sorting Through the Tiers

Jim Sannes
Jim Sannes@JimSannes
Saudi Arabian Grand Prix Win Simulations: Sorting Through the Tiers

The uncertainty was fun while it lasted.

There was never a ton of hope that some team in the Formula 1 field would catch Max Verstappen to open the year. But Verstappen stamped out the remnants with another dominant victory Saturday in Bahrain, with his teammate, Sergio Perez, claiming the second slot.

Thus, it's going to be tough to bet outrights against Verstappen once again this year. But the rest of the pack still has plenty left to be decided.

We saw a similar pecking order to 2023 with Ferrari leading the best-of-the-rest, followed by Mercedes, McLaren, and Aston Martin filling out the rest of the top 10. There are plenty of takeaways from that, but it's also not a lock that we see a direct duplication of that this week in Saudi Arabia.

Not only was Bahrain just a single race, but it was also one that featured much different track characteristics and tire degradation than what we'll see in the second race. So, while we want to weigh that data heavily, we want to still bake some uncertainty into the model.

That uncertainty just doesn't lie at the top. Here's what my sims are showing for Saturday's race prior to practice and qualifying.

Sim Win
Max Verstappen73.7%87.1%87.4%87.4%
Sergio Perez6.6%50.8%80.5%85.5%
Charles Leclerc5.4%39.7%74.8%85.5%
Carlos Sainz4.5%33.5%72.0%86.1%
Lewis Hamilton2.7%21.6%56.8%84.4%
Lando Norris2.4%21.7%58.3%83.3%
George Russell2.2%19.7%54.9%83.1%
View Full Table

Lucky for us, we don't have to worry about Verstappen this week. Not a single driver has higher win odds in the simulations than their implied outright odds in FanDuel Sportsbook's F1 betting odds for Saudi Arabia. He can be someone else's headache.

The value lies deeper in the field with two bets popping, at least to a certain extent: Lance Stroll to finish top 6 and Zhou Guanyu to finish in the points.

Stroll had an interesting race on Saturday. He got turned around on lap one, plunging him back to the 19th spot. But Stroll got onto the hard tires quickly and demonstrated the pace they had in them. Despite the poor start, Stroll still wound up earning a point.

Stroll's teammate, Fernando Alonso, wasn't a threat for the top four teams and finished ninth. Given Alonso's the better driver between the two, that may make it tough to buy into a top six for Stroll based on what we saw last week.

Still, it's not as if this number is overly optimistic. Stroll's T6 odds at FanDuel Sportsbook are +750, translating to 11.8% implied odds. Stroll finished in the top six in 22.7% of last year's races, and my sims have him at 19.6% for Saturday. I don't mind taking a swipe here and hoping we see a bit more volatility toward the front than we saw in the opener.

As for Zhou, the edge isn't huge. His implied odds at +410 to finish in the points are 19.6%, down from 24.3% in my sims, and FanDuel is higher on Zhou than other sportsbooks are. Thus, the Stroll market is my preferred between the two.

With that said, Kick Sauber had decent pace compared to other bottom-half teams on Saturday. RB didn't have the pace many expected, Williams nursed engine issues, and Alpine projectile-vomited over the entire paddock. Zhou and teammate Valtteri Bottas may not have blown the competition's doors off, but they do benefit from underwhelming showings elsewhere.

Zhou finished in the points in just 13.6% of all races last year, so this is a leap of faith with him. You can justify it, though, if you think the struggles of Sauber's competitors carry over.

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The above author is a FanDuel employee and is not eligible to compete in public daily fantasy contests or place sports betting wagers on FanDuel. The advice provided by the author does not necessarily represent the views of FanDuel. Taking the author's advice will not guarantee a successful outcome. You should use your own judgment when participating in daily fantasy contests or placing sports wagers.