F1 returns from its yearly summer break this weekend for the Belgian Grand Prix (9 a.m. ET, Sunday on ESPN2) at one of the circuits that drivers and fans alike adore: Spa-Francorchamps. With the news that the top two championship protagonists will be taking grid penalties for engine replacements, it could clear the lane for Mercedes to claim its first win of the season.
Points leader Max Verstappen and second-place Charles Leclerc will start near the rear of the field after grid drops are determined following Saturday's qualifying session. Verstappen opened at BetMGM as a heavy favorite before the news broke, but now seven-time world champion and four-time Spa winner Lewis Hamilton has the best moneyline for the race win at +225. Leclerc's Ferrari teammate Carlos Sainz Jr. has the next-best moneyline at +275 followed by Verstappen (+300), George Russell (+600) and Sergio Perez (+700).
Once all-conquering Mercedes, winners of the last eight constructors championships, has yet to win a race in 2022 and currently sit in third place in the constructor standings, 30 points behind Ferrari and 127 behind Red Bull. It would take a miracle for Red Bull to surrender the title with nine rounds left, but Mercedes could put a dent in Ferrari's lead with a strong showing on the weekend.
Here are a few bets we like ahead of the Belgian Grand Prix.
Daniel Ricciardo to finish in the Top 6 (+275)
Ricciardo enters with all the motivation in the world after being told he’s losing his McLaren seat at the end of the season. He’ll have something to prove not only to the braintrust at Woking but also potential suitors with open drives. He’s also quite handy around Spa, having finished in the top four there five times, including a win in his breakout 2014 campaign.
Hamilton to post the fastest lap (+350)
It’s not hard to imagine a scenario toward the end of the race where Hamilton has a pit stop gap on the Ferraris and straps on fresh boots to get the bonus point for fastest lap.
Esteban Ocon to finish higher than Fernando Alonso (+150)
Ocon has finished ahead of his Alpine teammate in eight of 13 rounds so far this season and has a much higher average start and finish (amazingly both 8.6) at Spa to Alonso’s average starting place of 10.2 and average finish of 11.6.