Charles Leclerc has breathed some much needed fresh air into the 2019 F1 season with his recent performances in Belgium and Italy. After the first five races of the season, everything pointed towards yet another stroll for Lewis Hamilton and Mercedes, perhaps their easiest one yet over the last six years.
But with two wins out of two in Belgium and Italy, Leclerc has reminded us that nothing is so simple and straightforward in F1. If his performances when under immense pressure from the Mercedes drivers, especially Hamilton at Spa Francorchamps, are any indication, we definitely have a future contender for the Championship in red.
Staying rooted in the present though, things still look quite favourable for the team in silver. With two thirds of the races completed, things look firmly in the hands of Lewis Hamilton and Mercedes.
Lewis Hamilton odds in the Driver’s Championships
With 285 points, the British driver is comfortably ahead on the driver’s point’s chart. He is trailed by his teammate Bottas in second (221) followed by Red Bull’s Max Verstappen in third a further 99 points behind (185).
The two Ferrari drivers bring up the top five, with Sebastain Vettel upstaged by his junior Leclerc in fourth, just three points behind Verstappen. Vettel, whose torrid season seems to be going from bad to worse, is firmly in fifth with 169 points, which is more than a hundred points ahead of Toro Rosso’s Pierre Gasly in sixth.
As things stand, the Championship is Hamilton’s to lose. He will need to have a spectacularly poor run of races from now till December 1 to snatch defeat from the hands of victory, as the saying goes. Despite not winning two consecutive races, Team Mercedes still managed to get both their drivers on the podium, which only strengthens their grip on the championship.
And the odds at both old and new online bookmakers in the UK underline this reality. For instance, William Hill has Hamilton’s odds pegged currently at 1/100. Bet365 is offering odds on 1.01 on his winning the championship. Both these were after the Monza race.
To provide some contrast, here are the odds on the other drivers at BWin.com:
- Valtteri Bottas is at 26.00
- Max Vestappen and Leclerc both at 101.00
- Sebastian Vettel at 201.00
There is a clear consensus among the bookies that the driver’s championship is headed in one direction and one direction alone.
Constructor’s standings & Ferrari’s summer of hope
Much has been written about Scuderia’s failures and costly errors over the last few seasons. Things did not seem much better in 2019 during the early races either. But things have improved considerably since the first five races of the year.
Team Ferrari has slowly improved its performance, starting with the Monaco GP where Sebastien Vettel broke the duopoly of the Mercedes drivers and placed second. And the turn of the seasons has brought further joy, as noted by Scuderia legend Ross Brawn.
If we leave out the first seven races of the season and start from France, the standings look a lot closer, with Hamilton just holding on to a 12 point lead over Leclerc (122 to 110). But with Sebastian Vettel fading badly in recent races, this difference would not be reflected in the Constructors standings.
There it is Mercedes all the way, leading by a whopping 505 points ahead of the Scuderia who have 351. Recent adjustments to the SF90 have helped the team hold off the challenge from the Mercedes cars. But at the same time, it has also focused the spotlight on Sebastien Vettel’s underwhelming performances in recent races.
Ferrari has a problem on their hands – their top driver is being upstaged by his understudy. If Vettel continues to weigh the team down, the Scuderia will have a tough choice to make at the end of the year.