Miami GP Preview: 2022 Formula 1 Championship So Far & Best Bets for Sunday's Race
Sunday will be the first time a Formula 1 race takes place in Miami. The last time an F1 race was held in the Sunshine State was in 1959 for the U.S. Grand Prix hosted in Sebring, FL. The winner of that race was a 22-year old Bruce McLaren. Tomorrow will be the first F1 race in Florida in more than 60 years. Before getting into any picks and predictions for Sunday's race, let’s take a quick look at what has happened so far in this 2022 Formula 1 season. After that, we'll peak at Saturday's qualifying results and the intricacies of the new Miami circuit before diving into the best bets ahead of tomorrow's huge race.
2022 Formula 1 Championship: Everything to Know Before Sunday
So far in 2022, Red Bull Racing and Scuderia Ferrari are competing closely for first place. Ferrari’s golden boy Charles Leclerc leads the drivers' championship with 86 of his team’s 124 points. This puts Ferrari at the top of the 2022 Constructors' Standings, only 11 points ahead of Red Bull Racing’s 113. This year, Ferrari is giving Christian Horner and Max Verstappen a run for their money. The biggest disappointment and surprise this season has come from the Mercedes camp. They've won the last eight constructors’ championships (2014-2021). No team in any professional sports league has won eight consecutive titles besides Toto Wolff’s crew. At the moment, they stand in third with only 77 points produced by Lewis Hamilton and George Russel this year. There's still seven other teams competing, so let's evaluate the performance of all 10 F1 teams this season from first to last place in the constructors' standings.
*Note: An F1 Team’s points consists of the sum of points scored by both drivers throughout the Drivers’ Championship. For example: Charles Leclerc has accumulated 86 points, while Carlos Sainz has accumulated 38 points in 2022. Therefore, Ferrari leads the 2022 Constructors series with 124 points (Leclerc’s 86 points + Carlos Sainz’ 38 Points)*
Top 5 F1 Teams in 2022
1. Ferrari (124 Points): Charles Leclerc & Carlos Sainz
So far this season, Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc has dominated the 2022 Drivers’ Championship and leads the pack with 86 points, with his teammate Carlos Sainz fifth in the standings with 38 points. Part of the reason Sainz has dropped down to fifth place are multiple DNFs (Did Not Finish) he’s had over the first four races of the season. Even more concerning has been the frequency of crashes he’s had in 2022 (in practice, qualifying, and races). These issues continued after Sainz signed a two-year extension with Ferrari in mid-April. Sainz has only had two top-five finishes and is yet to finish on the podium in 2022. Whether it is bad luck or careless driving, Sainz has underperformed so far this season and will need to stay on the race track moving forward to help Ferrari secure the 2022 championship. In contrast, his teammate is off to unbelievable start this year.
2. Red Bull Racing RBPT (113 Points): Max Verstappen & Sergio "Checo" Perez
In second and third are Red Bull Racing’s duo of Max Verstappen and Sergio Perez. Verstappen’s 59 points places him second in the drivers’ standings. Only five points behind him is his teammate Sergio Perez. Both of Red Bull's drivers are producing enough points to keep their team neck and neck with Ferrari in a close battle for first place in the 2022 Constructor standings. Between Red Bull and Ferrari, it is too early to say who has the better car and engine. However, these two teams without a question have the best F1 cars in 2022.
3. Mercedes (77 Points): Lewis Hamilton & George Russell
Mercedes has won the last eight constructors’ championships, largely because of Lewis Hamilton's heroics. He's won seven consecutive drivers’ championships between 2014 and 2020. Verstappen won the Drivers’ Championship for Red Bull last year while Hamilton finishing second only eight points behind champion Max Verstappen. Nonetheless, Mercedes was still able to narrowly secure the constructors' championship in 2021 because of the points Valtteri Bottas racked up in the many races in which he finished second to Hamilton. This season, the Mercedes engine has disappointed for the first time in nearly a decade. As a result, their disappointing 2022 car has limited George Russell's and Hamilton’s ability to accumulate enough points to compete with Ferrari and Red Bull. At the moment, Mercedes stands third in the standings with 77 points. Although it is still early, it looks like they have no chance to come finish first or second. This means that for the first time in eight years, there will be a new F1 team that wins the 2022 Constructors' Championship.
4. McLaren Mercedes (46 Points): Lando Norris & Daniel Ricciardo
Lando Norris has stepped up as McLaren’s best driver, outracing teammate Daniel Ricciardo across the board. Up until now, Norris stands in sixth among all drivers with 35 points (only three points shy of Carlos Sainz for fifth). Danny Ric hasn’t been able to get things going yet in 2022. He currently ranks 11th in the drivers’ standings, even falling behind Haas’ Kevin Magnussen. While Lando continues to produce for McLaren, eyebrows are increasingly being raised regarding Ricciardo’s lack of points in 2022. As a result, McLaren is competing to keep the fourth spot in the Constructors'. To celebrate the first Miami GP, Lando Norris has opted to wear a basketball helmet to show support the Heat who are doing very well in the NBA playoffs (Which personally I love).
5. Alfa Romeo Ferrari (25 Points): Valtteri Bottas & Zhou Guanyu
Alfa Romeo is doing better this season after completely transforming their team. Ahead of 2022, a decision was made to move away from youngster Antonio Giovinazzi who simply hadn't performed well enough in his tenure with the team. In addition, 45-year old veteran Kimi Raikkonen (won the 2007 Drivers' Championship for Renault) raced for Alfa Romeo from 2019 to 2021 but announced his retirement from Formula 1 at the end of the season. The team had to get two new drivers. Rookie driver Zhou has only earned one point after finishing 10th in the Bahrain GP. Valtteri Bottas is the team’s only real option of generating enough points to finish in the top-five in the Constructors' by the end of the season. Bottas was Hamilton’s teammate for five consecutive years between 2017 and 2021. This season, Russel replaced him at Mercedes which forced Bottas to take a seat as a driver for another team. Alfa Romeo welcomed him with open arms. Its very ironic that he stands in eighth place in the drivers’ standings, only four points behind his former teammate Lewis Hamilton. Bottas is driving with a chip on his shoulder this season, wanting to show Toto Wolff the mistake he made in letting him go. At the moment, Bottas has 24 points which is impressive as Alfa Romeo’s F1 car is completely different from the Mercedes engine which he grew very comfortable with over his last five years as a formula one driver.
Bottom 5 F1 Teams 2022
6. Alpine (22 Points): Esteban Ocon & Fernando Alonso
The young Frenchman and Spanish legend both returned to Alpine Renault for 2022. Of the four races so far this season, Alonso has had two DNFs (Saudi Arabia & Emilia Romagna) and one 17th place finish in the Australian GP. He only scored two points by finishing in ninth place in Bahrain. His young teammate Esteban Ocon has truly grown as a racer over the last few seasons. He currently has 20 points and is ranked ninth in the Drivers’ championship. Ocon, and not Alonso, is the featured driver for Alpine this season.
7. AlphaTauri RBPT (16 Points): Pierre Gasly & Yuki Tsunoda
Pierre Gasly is off to a slow start this season. He’s only generated six points through the first four races and is currently 13th in the Drivers’ Championship. Yuki Tsunoda, who is now in his sophomore F1 season, has 10 points and is one spot ahead of Gasly in the standings. While Tsunoda is showing signs of continued growth and maturity in his second year, the beginning of Gasly’s 2022 campaign has been difficult. However, Gasly finished seventh in qualifying and is in a good position to finish in the top-10 on Sunday.
8. Haas Ferrari (15 Points): Mick Schumacher & Kevin Magnussen:
Haas is trending up this season, after finishing dead last in the 2021 Constructors Championship. This year, Kevin Magnussen returned to Haas to replace Nikita Mazepin. Haas terminated Nikita Mazepin as a result of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine in March. Mazepin’s father is a rich and powerful Russian oligarch who used his wealth to help his son obtain a seat at Haas in 2021. As the only American team in the paddock, Haas made the only possible choice and terminated Mazepin within days of Russia’s first strikes on Ukraine.
Magnussen is a veteran who competed for Haas in the past and been a strong driver. Though he is driving in one of the least powerful cars this season, he’s been able to able to score a respectable amount of points in his return to F1 in 2022. His teammate Mick Schumacher is still developing but is also improving as a racer. All-in-all, there are encouraging signs coming out of the Haas camp in 2022, though they will definitely not finish in the top-five.
9. Aston Martin Aramco Mercedes (5 Points): Sebastian Vettel & Lance Stroll
Aston Martin is struggling this season. Vettel missed the first few races after testing positive for COVID-19. Though Vettel only competed in the last two races, he finished eighth at Emilia Romagna earning his team four points. In comparison, his teammate Lance Stroll finished in the bottom-10 for the first three races of the season and earned one point at Emilia Romagna finishing in 10th place. While they are in the middle of the pack, both drivers are consistently falling short of scoring points for their team.
10. Williams Mercedes (1 Point): Nicholas Latifi & Alex Albon
Williams certainly has the worst car in F1. Over the last few years, their vehicle has failed its drivers. George Russel left Williams at the end of 2021 to join Mercedes. He cried the first time he finished in the top-10 last season because of how terrible their car is. He was replaced by former Red Bull racer Alex Albon. Meanwhile Nicholas Latifi remains at Williams in 2022. Williams’ car seems to have the most problems such lock-ups and control issues. Their car also certainly has one of the least powerful engines in F1. Finally, Williams is going through an ownership change after being run by the Williams family since the team was created. For this reason, Albon and Latifi aren’t to blame for Williams’ 2022 season which already ended before it began. The team has countless issues to resolve both in terms of management and with the engineers responsible for building their 2022 car (and the cars before that).
Miami GP Circuit Explained
Miami’s inaugural GP brings an innovative street-racing circuit that loops around the Hard Rock Stadium. This track has many sharp turns that open into a number of long straights. Notably, the straights drivers will enter every time they go through turns 3, 8, 10, and especially 16 offer ample space for them to rev their engines, open up their DRS', and overtake drivers in front of them. The cars with the fastest engines are somewhat at an advantage as a result. They will be able to generate speeds of up to 210 MPH in the straight that emerges out of turn 16. This new track stands out because of its sharp turns and very extended straights (again, out of turn 16) which will allow for above average speeds to be reached by some of the drivers.
In addition, the very sharp turns 1, 11, 14, 16, and 17 will likely bring forth a few collisions for Sunday's race. The three practice sessions and even Saturday's qualifying had numerous drivers struggling to maintain control through some of these turns. Finally, the heat and Sun shining down on the Miami tack is making it particularly hot. This will make tire changes and decisions to pit more difficult on Sunday than in other races this year. Together, these elements make the track for Miami’s inaugural GP one of the most interesting and uniquely designed of tracks of 2022.
2022 Miami GP Qualifying Results & Sunday’s Starting Grid
Top 15 Qualifying Results & Starting Gridformula1.com
* Note: Starting Grid and Qualifying Results are identical. For example: Charles Leclerc will start in first place for Ferrari, Lando Norris will start in eighth place, and Sebastian Vettel will start in 13th place. The positioning in the starting grid is a direct reflection of the fastest laps achieved during Qualifying*
2022 Miami Grand Prix: Best Bets for Sunday's Big Race
The main thing to remember for Sunday’s big race is that it will be the first time any of the 20 F1 Drivers race on this circuit. During Friday’s practice, many drivers experienced difficulties through certain turns of the new circuit.
Since this is a brand new track, it’s fair to assume a few surprises might happen. Let’s take a look at the best F1 bets and racer props going into Sunday’s inaugural Miami Grand Prix. Now that Qualifying is over and the starting grid for tomorrow's race is set, let's take a look at some of the best bets to make ahead of the inaugural Miami Grand Prix.
First Place Finish Bet
It was only Charles' last lap of Q3 that he was able to overtake Verstappen who will start in third place on Sunday. Red Bull’s best driver will start behind both Ferraris in Miami, but he will have ample opportunities to overtake his adversaries by activating his DRS coming out of turns 9, 16 and 19, which lead to long straights. Here is where Verstappen will attack. While Leclerc is certainly the favorite to win tomorrow’s race, he is -150 to finish as the outright winner tomorrow. Verstappen's odds are more interesting. At the moment, Max is +195 to win the race. He looked great in qualifying falling less than 0.3 seconds behind Leclerc for the fastest lap. Expect a true dogfight between Red Bull and Ferrari’s best drivers in Miami. While it made sense to take Leclerc to win qualifiers (which he did), it’s much more interesting and lucrative (if he wins) to take the +195 ML for Verstappen to win the first ever Miami Grand Prix.
The Pick: Max Verstappen to win Miami GP +195
Team of Winning Driver Bet
Since we are going with Max Verstappen to with tomorrow’s race, you might as well also lock in Red Bull Racing to be the team for whom the winning driver competes. While Charles Leclerc is -150 to win tomorrow’s race, Ferrari is -230 to have tomorrow’s winning driver. Think of this prop as a mix and match with the Verstappen ML pick.
The Pick: Red Bull Racing +160
Top-6 Finish Bet
George Russell struggled in qualifying Saturday. Ultimately, he will be starting 13th on the grid. Though his starting position is very disadvantageous, this is the perfect circuit for him to work his way through the pack in front of him. The Miami GP has so at least three straights where most drivers will be able to use DRS. Notably, the straight out of turn 16 is very long, and could be a perfect opportunity for Russell to work his way up the board. While starting in thirteenth position stinks, Russell has a great chance to pass those ahead of him to finish in the top six positions by the end of the race.