Formula 1 is one of the richest sports in the world thanks to its mass global appeal, its glamorous image and its almost limitless opportunities for product promotion and endorsement. It also happens to be incredibly exciting and, even more importantly, a fantastic betting opportunity for those prepared to put in a little research.
There are numerous factors to consider when betting on F1 and various different markets on which to place a bet. This may all seem a bit daunting to a beginner but with 19 races on the 2013 calendar spread out between March and November there is plenty of time to get to grips with F1 betting.
Of course, whilst the aim of any bet is to have a net win, many people have a bet just for a little bit of fun and gambling on Formula 1 is well-suited to that. You can choose bets that will keep your interest for the entire season or ones that will be settled almost instantaneously.
F1 is also very attractive to the more serious punter as there is a wealth of information available on the sport, a relatively limited number of competitors and, due to the correlation between financial backing and levels of success, it is reasonably predictable, with the best drivers and teams winning more often than not.
Most Popular Formula 1 Bets / How To Bet On Formula 1
There are a whole host of different bets you can place on F1 covering the various stages of the race from practice to qualifying and even in-play during the race itself, as well as various season-long options. Here we take a look at the most popular options:
- Race winner – The most popular F1 bet for most people and also the simplest – who will win any given race. This can be placed at any time, either before the starting order has been decided or after, or even during the race with many bookies.
- Podium finish – Another simple one and very similar to backing a horse ‘to place’. To win this bet your selected driver must finish in the top three.
- Pole position – This market is a bet on who will head the pre-race qualifying which takes place on Saturday afternoons the day before the race itself. Whichever driver is fastest in qualifying starts the race in pole position at the front of the grid.
- Drivers Championship – This is a season long bet on which driver will accrue the most points throughout the course of the season and win the World Championship. You can back drivers throughout the season as the odds fluctuate according to results.
- Constructors Championship – Similar to the above, this market is won by the team whose drivers win the most points over the whole season.
- Straight forecast – Like a straight forecast in other sports this is a bet on who will finish first and second in a given race and your selections must come in in the right order.
Formula 1 Betting Rules
The many rules and technicalities of Formula 1 rarely affect us as punters but here we take a look at some of the major ones that could. Of course, rules vary from bookmaker to bookmaker so if in doubt it’s always worth double checking directly with the bookmaker, either through their customer service team or their onsite rules.
- Pay-out limits – This is one to watch with all sports and all bets, and whilst it is unlikely to impact many people it is worth knowing. Many bookies have a maximum pay-out that can vary according to the sport in question. For example, say the maximum pay-out for football and for F1 is £500,000 and you place a crazy accumulator on various races and matches with odds of 500,000/1. It wins – lucky you – and you had £2 on it and are expecting a cool £1m back, but you will only receive £500,000, meaning you would have been wiser to only stake £1. You’d get over the disappointment though eventually.
- Dead-heat rules – Dead-heat rules will often apply to markets where there could be a tie, such as which driver will win the most races. In the event of a tie (between two drivers) this means that half your bet is settled as a winner and half as a loser.
- Points/podium finishes – If a driver is subsequently disqualified many bookmakers will count the result as it stood at the time of the official FIA podium presentation.
- Head-to-head – In head-to-head bets, such as Hamilton versus Button, both drivers must start the race or the bet is void.
- Incomplete race – If a race is abandoned or postponed due to unforeseen circumstances, then most bookies will void bets in the case of postponement and settle based on official FIA results if abandoned. However, as with all rules the exact terms will vary from bookie to bookie.
Whilst F1 betting is never the easiest to predict, one of the areas that a lot of punters have good success is the drivers’ championship. The reason behind that is, realistically, only a handful of drivers are ever going to be able to win it.
Some teams have way more resources at their disposal, and so their cars are more advanced as a result. The likes of Mercedes, Ferrari and Red Bull are probably the only 3 teams that can compete at the minute.
Many punters get put off by this and think there is no value in these types of bets, but it’s not true. The value lies in each way betting. For those that don’t know, each way betting is simply where your bet is split into 2 parts; a win and a place bet.
By utilising this market, the drivers’ championship allows you to both go for the overall win and the place bet. Depending on which bookmaker you choose, some will pay up to third place, although the majority will pay top 2.
So, what’s the secret? Well, it’s not really a secret but what you will find is that there will be one driver who is red hot favourite to win at the start of the season, often priced at around even money or even shorter. This lengthens the price of the drivers around them, meaning that the second favourite could be somewhere around 3/1 or even higher.
The trick is to look for the driver that will finish second; sounds silly, but this is where the value lies. We try and find second place for two reasons; first, because the odds are longer and will offer a better return for the each way bet; second, because they are still going to have an outside chance of winning it all, which we shouldn’t discount.
Many punters have been successful with ive betting in Formula One. It takes time to master, and of course you need to be watching the race unfold live to be able to react to certain bets.
Whilst live betting certainly isn’t something that’s exclusive to F1, we do feel that it works as well with the sport as any others in the industry. The main reason is that you’ve got a bit of time to try and anticipate what might happen.
The first place to start is researching the qualifying rounds. You need to see which cars might have good track pace throughout. Now, these aren’t necessarily the cars that have qualified well given their places on the podium, although this can be used, but cars that have shown consistent pace throughout.
Once you’ve earmarked several drivers or even teams that you think might do well, it’s time to look at their race performance.
As the race starts, there are two key factors that we think have the biggest influence in the outcome of a race:
- The weather
- Appearance of a safety car
Obviously, there are a multitude of things that can happen in a race, but we would argue that the factors above have even more influence than the ability of a driver.
The weather is something that is easy to check and you can do this prior to the race. You need to see what the forecast is and more importantly, if it’s going to change. The biggest change will come when it’s raining. If it rains mid race, expect chaos.
You need to be looking at the teams or drivers that are able to adapt the quickest, and by this we generally mean get the slicks off and the wets/intermediates on. If you can spot who’s got in quickly, even by a few seconds, this could be huge in the outcome of the race.
The second point, appearance of a safety car, is something that usually happens at some point. Tight circuits such as Monaco and Abu Dhabi may have several per race. Safety car basically eliminates any gaps that the driver previously might have.
So, you could be in a scenario where the race leader is 30 seconds in front of second place, but 2nd places pace is actually faster, although not fast enough to make that much time up. A safety car brings them closer together and now, you will be looking more along the lines of the driver in second winning the race. You can even look further down the field as well, especially when using place bets.
Bookmakers lack of F1 coverage is a good thing
If you’ve spent any time at any of the larger bookmakers, you will likely have seen their feeds full of betting info and markets on the likes of football, horse racing and US based sports, such as basketball and American football.
Very few actually promote F1 to a level that these other sports command. Given that over 425million people are said to watch F1 around the world, it still makes it one of the most viewed sports out there. Plus, given that over 3 million tune in for a lot of the Grand Prix races, the viewing numbers are actually higher than a lot of Premier League games shown on Sky.
Sky have even stepped up their coverage of the sport by dedicating a whole channel to it, thus allowing us to be even more clued up races, practices, qualifying and behind the scenes.
However, the bookmakers still seem reluctant to give it any major coverage. Euroebet tried in 2001 by sponsoring the TWR Arrows team and there have been a few other companies in that time that have tried similar, with few sticking around for more than a season.
You see, the less time and effort that bookmakers put into the sport or even their markets, the more this creates opportunities for punters. A typical football match in the Premier League might have dozens or more people analysing each potential outcome and then market, meaning the odds on offer is almost locked in.
With Formula 1, there is much more wiggle room as less people are on the case. A classic example occurred at the Chinese Grand Prix in 2012. Lewis Hamilton was subject to a 5-place grid penalty due to a change of gear box. As news broke through the dead of night across Europe, bookies took hours in some cases to catch on to the news, and instead, shrewd punters were able to lay Hamilton due to his problems.
We aren’t going to sit here and say that this happens every week because it was a one off, but, if this was football or horse racing, it would never have happened. What this shows is that F1 betting isn’t locked up like the other two sports and offers up a much wider range of potential value bets to be had.