Top betting tips for Saudi Arabian GP: New circuit could spring a surprise for Lewis Hamilton

Formula 1 heads to the Jeddah Corniche Circuit in Saudi Arabia for the penultimate race of the season, and a World Champion could be crowned if Lewis Hamilton struggles to adapt.

Formula 1 could crown a new World Champion for the first time since 2016 when the sport pays its maiden visit to Saudi Arabia this weekend.

But instead, the odds suggest this enthralling title battle will go all the way to the final hurdle in Abu Dhabi with potentially only one point separating Max Verstappen and Lewis Hamilton - or perhaps even level pegging.

Before we leap into the preview don't forget Planet Sport Bet's new F1 offer.

Saudi Arabian Grand Prix schedule

Practice 1: Friday 3 December: 1.30 - 2.30pm

Practice 2: Friday 3 December: 5 - 6pm

Practice 3: Saturday 4 December: 2 - 3pm

Qualifying: Saturday 4 December: 5 - 6pm

Race: Sunday 5 December: 5.30pm

Follow the race via live updates on Planet F1 here

Can a new track trip up Hamilton?

Lewis Hamilton celebrates winning the Qatar GP, Formula 1

Hamilton is the 4/9 favourite with Planet Sport Bet to make it three wins in a row, following his victories in Brazil and Qatar that undoubtedly gave the seven-time champion the momentum in his quest for a record-breaking eighth title triumph.

Mercedes have got their W12 car in the sweet spot at this most critical phase of the 22-race season and Hamilton has an engine available that's only been used at one race weekend - in Brazil where he produced dominant pace. The 36-year-old is expected to have it fitted again this weekend.

If the Briton beats Verstappen to the chequered flag like he has at the past two races, and also bags the point available for fastest lap, the duo would be tied on points heading to Abu Dhabi.

That scenario would still leave the Dutchman ahead on countback, 9-8 in terms of victories, so if neither scored a point at the Yas Marina Circuit, Verstappen would be the champion.

Let's not get ahead of ourselves, however. Firstly, Hamilton has to produce a clean weekend, stay out of the barriers at the Jeddah Street Circuit, hope the Mercedes 'rocket' engine works as well as it did at Interlagos and keep his fingers crossed that Red Bull are unable to raise themselves back to the level they were achieving for the vast majority of the campaign.

On that basis, would you want to take 4/9 about Hamilton winning? With Saudi Arabia a complete unknown - the track has only recently been finished, with construction having started as recently as April - it does not strike you as an occasion to be lumping on at a very short price.

Planet Sport picks for the Saudi Arabian Grand Prix

Max Verstappen, Red Bull, Qatar GP, Formula 1

In the Race Winner market, there could be better value about Verstappen at 9/4, whether a 10th success of the season clinches him the World Championship or not. If he did triumph, Hamilton would have to finish no lower than sixth to keep it alive, and fifth if Verstappen set the fastest lap.

Although this track is said to be blisteringly fast - which suits Mercedes - it is also a street circuit and Verstappen has thrived on those this year. He bagged an untroubled win in Monaco and it would have been the same story in Azerbaijan a fortnight later but for a tyre blowout that sent him spinning into a wall.

And it is not as if Red Bull have dropped away hugely. If all goes to plan, Verstappen should be a contender for a front-row start at least, although Mercedes will be ultra-keen to lock out the top two positions with Valtteri Bottas, whose main strength is in qualifying.

A nine-to-four punt or vice versa? At a venue clouded with question marks, we would have to opt for the odds-against chance.

Fastest lap markets for Saudi Arabian Grand Prix

Sergio Perez, Red Bull, Formula 1, Qatar GP

The Fastest Lap market holds more interest than at any previous race this year, simply because the one point available for that feat could be crucial in regard to the World Championship battle.

It is a tool Red Bull have utilised effectively recently and Sergio Perez holds some appeal at 4/1 to grab that point, as he did two races ago in Brazil on the very last lap to stop Hamilton from further closing the gap to Verstappen.

Also worth bearing in mind is that the Constructors' Championship fight is very close, with Mercedes ahead of Red Bull by a mere five points. If both teams' drivers are in position to do so with a sufficient time window, you can expect them to make late pit-stops for soft tyres.

That is always something of a gamble, of course, because any number of things can go wrong at a pit-stop, so for the top two teams at this vital stage there is less risk about bringing in Perez or Bottas, who are out of the individual title picture.

Red Bull nailed it in Brazil and Qatar with Perez and Verstappen respectively - on the latter occasion being gifted the opportunity by a late Virtual Safety Car period that offered more margin for error. The Mexican seems to be the right man to back as he looks to make it three fastest laps in a row.

As for how he'll fare in Saudi Arabia, we'll be quick to point out Perez' two former F1 victories. His first came in Bahrain on the corresponding weekend last year, and his other in Azerbaijan - a high-risk street circuit.

READ MORE: Five reasons why Verstappen and Red Bull shouldn't panic

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