Lewis Hamilton is hunting for a fifth straight grand prix win at this weekend’s Belgian GP, but the Mercedes driver is facing a grid penalty that could damage his chances.
The Briton needs more new engine parts for his car than are allowed, due to mechanical issues earlier in the season, with a 20-place penalty possibly being faced by the championship leader.
Hamilton has been supreme in the last few weeks, winning four GPs in a row to establish a lead of 19 points in the standings, with his closest rival his team-mate Nico Rosberg.
With six wins from his last seven races – Mercedes’ monopoly of F1 in 2016 saw Rosberg take the only other GP – Hamilton is now the overwhelming favourite to win the world championship.
But his grid penalty opens the door for Rosberg to close the gap in the standings this weekend, while a lot of the other drivers on the grid will sense the chance to get a GP win on the board too.
Hamilton will still back himself to get into the points even if he has to start on the back row of the grid, but his chances of success would surely be minimal if the maximum punishment was handed out to the defending champion.
Red Bull’s talented young driver Max Verstappen could be one to watch this weekend – he is the only non-Mercedes driver to win a GP this year – although Hamilton is still an enticing price.
But with Hamilton’s punishment not yet clear, where does the best betting value lie for the race?
Where does the betting value lie?
Rosberg has understandably been made the favourite with Hamilton likely to start well behind the front row regardless of how well he is able to perform during qualifying.
The German racer, who got a fantastic start to the season but has only beaten Hamilton once in the last seven GPs, is priced up at 30/31 to get back to winning ways in Belgium.
Hamilton won the race last year, but prior to 2015 there was a strong period of success for Red Bull in this race, with the Red Bull-Renault team taking three out of four victories.
Sebastian Vettel was responsible for two of those wins and the German’s chances are also boosted by Ferrari’s strong record in this race, as their 16 wins is more than any other constructor.
Vettel is yet to get a win under his belt this season and is 11/1 to cross the line in first, with his odds on a podium finish bound to be a lot more appealing.
Daniel Ricciardo could well be one to watch here as well, having won the Belgian GP in 2014 and currently sitting in a solid third place in the world championship behind the dominant Mercedes drivers Rosberg and Hamilton.
However, Hamilton cannot be ignored despite the fact he could start on the back row of the grid.
With Mercedes yet to reveal how many new parts they are going to use on his car this weekend, therefore hiding his likely penalty from the other teams, the bookmakers are hedging their bets.
Hamilton can still be backed at a price of 17/10 to win the race, which could be fantastic value if he does not start too far off the front.