It's Las Vegas GP weekend, which means American race fans must be fully stocked on caffeine and maybe take a nap on Saturday in preparation for an F1 schedule tailor-made for the partygoers in Sin City.
The earliest start to an event this weekend is 8:30 pm PT on Thursday and Friday when the first and third practice sessions will occur. Quali is scheduled for midnight PT on Saturday morning, and the lights go out on race "day" at 10 pm PT. Buckle up!
This season has been among the least suspenseful from start to finish due to the dominance of Red Bull and Max Verstappen. The 2023 Driver's Champion has won 17 of 20 races and is again the favorite by a wide margin as the sport returns to Las Vegas.
The city held the Caesar's Palace Grand Prix from 1981-84, with Formula 1 cars racing there during the first two years. Alan Jones of Williams and Tyrrell's Michele Alboreto were the champions in '81 and '82, respectively.
Verstappen is expected to follow in their footsteps. Still, the nature of a new track and unfamiliar drivers across the grid could greatly equalize Red Bull's advantages displayed throughout this campaign. Ferrari's Carlos Sainz is the only non-Red Bull driver to win a race this season, and his teammate Charles Leclerc has taken two of the last three pole positions entering this week.
We couldn't be more excited to present our best bets for what we hope will be an exciting penultimate race in an otherwise predictable season. If any place can provide some drama, Vegas seems right. All three of these can be found at DraftKings!
While we can hope for a more entertaining outcome, we'll make this play with our head instead of the heart. Of Verstappen's 17 wins this season, he's started from P1 on the grid 11 times. As Paul Rudd's character from Anchorman might say, 55% of the time, it works every time.
Verstappen is a perfect 11-for-11 when beginning a race on pole in 2023. He lost out to Leclerc and Sainz by less than a tenth in Mexico City and has taken three poles in the last five races by more than a quarter of a second.
Based on recent history, this play should be decided on Saturday. When Verstappen qualifies first, he wins. We'll see if he can snag his 12th pole of the season and disappear from the pack in the race.
McLaren accomplished this feat in back-to-back races at Suzuka (Japan) and Losail (Qatar) before a recent dip in performance from their impressive rookie Oscar Piastri.
While that's happened, Lando Norris has pieced together the second-most points on the grid behind Verstappen over the last six races, including five podium finishes.
Piastri's pace is still there, and if he can keep the car on track and avoid mechanical failures, this team has just as much chance as Ferrari (+550) to surround Verstappen on the podium.
Pierre Gasly and Esteban Ocon have complimented each other well recently, scoring two double-point finishes in the last five races and helping the team secure points in all five. Gasly finished seventh in Brazil and sixth in Austin, TX, while Ocon has scored points in four of five races.
They represent the only two drivers from teams not named above to finish on the podium this season: Gasly in Holland and Ocon in Monaco. Their car has been competitive lately, helping the drivers and team climb out of a midseason slump, during which they scored only 22 points in six races between Spain and Belgium.
We like them to have the highest-finishing driver outside of the top teams in Vegas.