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Phil Agius' Belgian Grand Prix Tips: Sergio Perez can make a point

Spa-Francorchamps is one of the classic tracks on the F1 calendar and is the scene for the final race of the first part of the 2023 championship before the teams take almost a month off for a summer break.

Championship leader Max Verstappen is understandably a hot favourite to gain his eighth successive victory and his 10th in the first 12 races of the season, but the weather is threatening to make things tricky for the whole field.

Also, Verstappen has to deal with a five-place grid penalty in Sunday's race.

Add to that the fact that it's a sprint race weekend and we have the recipe for plenty of entertainment.

Phil Agius' Belgian Grand Prix Tips

Sergio Perez to win race @ 5/1
Charles Leclerc podium finish @ 13/8
Alex Albon points finish @ 6/4

Odds displayed were correct at the time of writing and subject to fluctuation.

Setting the scene…

The dominant Verstappen has a whopping 110-point lead over his Red Bull team-mate Sergio Perez and the pair have won every race this season between them, although the battle between their closest rivals is heating up.

The Dutchman, who is on course to land his third successive drivers' title, is 1/3 to win the race even though he starts sixth on the grid.

Lando Norris had hoped for a big weekend in the resurgent McLaren after finishing second to Verstappen for the second consecutive race in Hungary last week, but damaged his car's floor in the first session of Friday's qualifying session and has to start behind Verstappen in seventh.

Mercedes and Ferrari have also raised their game and Charles Leclerc will start the race on pole despite being a huge margin behind Verstappen's fastest Q3 qualifying time.

WhatBelgian Grand Prix
WhereCircuit de Spa-Francorchamps, Belgium
When14:00, Sunday 30th July
How to watchSky Sports F1 & Channel 4
OddsMax Verstappen 1/3, Sergio Perez 5/1, Lewis Hamilton 12/1, Charles Leclerc 20/1.

Sergio Perez to win race @ 5/1

Perez will start on the front row on Sunday after finishing third in qualifying and has a great chance to stay in the top two, whether or not his team-mate saunters past at some stage.

Verstappen has officially won the last two Belgian Grands Prix, but his 2021 "race" victory was really no such thing as the field had merely followed the safety car for two laps in heavy rain.

Perez was alongside his Red Bull team-mate Verstappen on the podium in Belgium last year and there will be few excuses for the under-fire Mexican driver if he can't at least guide this year's dominant car into the major points-paying places again at Spa.

Perez began the season with four top-two finishes in the first five races, including wins in Saudi Arabia and Azerbaijan, but he has managed only two podium finishes in the subsequent six races, both third places.

Those were both in the last three races, though, in Austria and Hungary and, with this circuit set to emphasise the strengths of the Red Bull car, he just needs to avoid any sprint-race mayhem and have a clean weekend to post a strong finish.

Phil Agius' Tip

Perez's results not living up to the car's potential means he can now be backed at 5/1, which represents value considering the Red Bull's speed in seemingly all conditions,

Charles Leclerc podium finish @ 13/8

Ferrari should come back into the equation at this track after missing out on the top six at the last two races and Leclerc has a prime opportunity to help the Scuderia to bounce back onto the podium in Belgium.

The car's speed was solid in Friday's qualifying and if the race is unaffected by the rain that has dogged Spa this weekend, the scarlet cars should be at the forefront of the race to be best of the rest.

The top speeds recorded on Friday suggest McLaren have a much higher-downforce set-up on their cars than Ferrari or Mercedes and, while that would make them favourites to impress in the wet, the papaya cars could be struggling on the straights if it's dry.

Phil Agius' Tip

That leaves Leclerc as a decent possibility at 13/8 to secure a podium finish, especially given his position at the front of the grid for the race on Sunday, while his first win for Ferrari came at Spa back in 2019.

Alex Albon points finish @ 6/4

Spa is a high-speed track and that will suit Williams down to the ground.

The British team laboured all weekend at the tight and twisty Budapest circuit last week, with Alex Albon and Logan Sargeant both knocked out in the first section of qualifying and finishing out of the points.

Albon had been far more impressive in the previous race at Silverstone, qualifying eighth and finishing in the same place, and it was the same story at the Canadian Grand Prix last month.

The long straights in Montreal enabled Albon to qualify 10th and make his way up to seventh in the race.

The blue cars should spring back to life as they return to full throttle for long stretches of the lap if we get dry conditions on Sunday at Spa.

Phil Agius' Tip

A 6/4 price for Albon to make the top 10 again is worth snapping up, even from a lowly grid slot as the car was not suited to the wet conditions in qualifying.

Phil Agius' Belgian Grand Prix Tips

Sergio Perez to win race @ 5/1
Charles Leclerc podium finish @ 13/8
Alex Albon points finish @ 6/4

Odds displayed were correct at the time of writing and subject to fluctuation.

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