WGM takes a look at some of the key factors to consider when betting on the upcoming Formula 1 season.
The worlds of gambling and Formula 1 rarely collided in the first half-century of the sport’s history, perhaps with the exception of the Monaco Grand Prix circuit that winds its way past the principality’s iconic casino. Like most sports, astute punters quickly found that motorsport’s premier category was ripe for picking. But buyer beware – F1 takes a different approach to the majority of options that appear on the drop down of your favourite sports betting site.
The 2018 calendar features a marathon 21 races – ranging from the aforementioned streets of Monte Carlo, iconic GP venues including Spa-Francorchamps (Belgium) and Silverstone (England) and new-era circuits in Singapore, Abu Dhabi and China. It may be a long season for the teams and drivers, but that’s just 21 opportunities to dip your toe as a bettor with popular bet types including outright winner, pole position, podium (1-2-3) finish, top 10 and fastest lap.
The importance of research is a no-brainer for any profitable punter and that’s magnified for followers of this most technologically-reliant of sports. Fortunately, both quantity and quality of statistical data is available via a number of avenues including the parent body’s site (formula1.com), while more analytical information can be found at sites like 4mula1.ro. We’re loathe to suggest punters follow the mainstream media for information relevant to punting, but the experts who follow Formula 1 24/7 provide unique insight into the sport’s inner workings. Even casual observers know that F1 authorities are continually tinkering with rules and technical regulations and that’s again the case in 2018. The two changes that are likely to provide that greatest impact are the ban on suspension systems that alter a car’s aerodynamic performance over a single lap and the introduction of a wider range of dry tyre compounds. Watch the data that emerges in F1 testing ahead of the season’s first race in Melbourne for any significant impact on times compared with 2017.
Perhaps the most challenging aspect of motorsport betting is handicapping the combination of driver and car – it’s not uncommon to find the fastest driver in an inferior car or vice versa. The past four titles have been captured by Mercedes drivers – three to Lewis Hamilton and one to Nico Rosberg. The previous four titles were all claimed by Sebastian Vettel driving a Red Bull. Stats show that Vettel is still highly competitive (five wins, four pole positions in 2017 driving a Ferrari) but unlikely to challenge for the World Driver’s Championship in slightly inferior machinery.
Grid positions hold varying importance depending on the track in question. Qualifying on pole at Monza (Italy) has guaranteed a race win in 83.3 per cent of the past 12 races, compared to the Canadian GP at Montreal where just 33 per cent of drivers on pole went on to win. Punters should also study the impact of tyre choices, weather (particularly where rain is a possibility), track characteristics (high/low speed corners or long straights that favor the faster cars) and team strategy that may favor one driver over another.
Speaking of team strategy, reigning world champion Lewis Hamilton clearly holds the number one slot at Mercedes ahead of his Finnish teammate Valtteri Bottas. Hamilton won nine races to Bottas’ three in 2017, but each amassed 13 top three finishes, indicating there’s value following the lesser known driver using the same machinery and technology. Today’s F1 may lack the glamor of past generations, but it’s still tremendously popular and remains the pinnacle of global motorsport. And for punters, there’s no reason you can’t fill the top spot on the betting podium having taken the chequered flag ahead of the bookies.