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Sunday, 20 January, 2019

There could be no stopping Verstappen if tyre gamble pays off

Pole-sitter Vettel odds-on for victory

Max Verstappen (right) congratulates pole-sitter Sebastian Vettel after qualifying
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Canadian Grand Prix
Sky Sports F1, 7.10pm Sunday

The Circuit Gilles Villeneuve has hosted some fantastic Canadian Grands Prix over the years, and with the top six qualifiers covered by 0.35 seconds this year's race promises to be another cracker.

Top tip
Max Verstappen 13-2

Sebastian Vettel will start from pole position for the fourth time this season.

The Ferrari ace is odds-on to win the race. However, Vettel has won just one of his previous three pole-position starts and Ferrari have made some questionable strategic calls this season.

Valtteri Bottas narrowly missed out on his first pole of the year but he might find things tougher in the race.

Like his Mercedes teammate, championship leader Lewis Hamilton, Bottas has an engine with more miles under its belt than he would like at a circuit where power is paramount.

An anticipated upgraded power unit is not available for Mercedes and their engine customer teams, and they may be forced to run conservatively to make sure of reaching the finish.

Max Verstappen has come in for plenty of criticism after being involved in incidents and accidents at every race weekend this season.

However, the young Dutchman drove a mature and uncharacteristically patient race to finish ninth in Monaco after starting from the back.

And he has been spectacular this weekend, topping the three practice sessions and qualifying an excellent third on the grid. 

A power boost from Renault's upgraded engine has clearly helped the Red Bulls and the addition of a third DRS zone could offset Ferrari's straightline advantage.

Interestingly Verstappen, along with teammate Daniel Ricciardo, the winner in Monaco last time out, will start the race on hypersoft tyres.

That should help him make a better start than the ultrasoft-shod cars around him on the grid and it could prove to be a strategic advantage if he can make them last long enough.

Other markets
Brendon Hartley points finish 9-4

Brendon Hartley is only ten races into his F1 career but already the New Zealander is feeling the heat from his famously impatient Toro Rosso paymasters.

The two-time World Endurance champion picked up his first F1 point by finishing tenth in Azerbaijan and was running 11th in Monaco despite a broken front wing last time out before he was taken out by an out-of-control Charles Leclerc late in the race.

That hasn't stopped rumours circulating about his imminent replacement, but he can strengthen his case with another points finish in Canada.

Hartley's Toro Rosso is equipped with a much-improved Honda engine this week (which for strategic reasons is unavailable to his teammate Pierre Gasly). And he put it to good use in qualifying a fine 12th. 

The car has shown up impressively in the speed trap all weekend and that should help him stay to the fore of the competitive midfield scrap. And if he can keep his nose clean at this famously unforgiving circuit, Hartley looks a decent shout to finish in the top ten.

M Verstappen to win race
1pt 13-2 Betfair, Paddy Power
B Hartley points finish
1pt 9-4 Betfair, Paddy Power

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The young Dutchman drove a mature and uncharacteristically patient race to finish ninth in Monaco after starting from the back
E.W. Terms
Sky bet