The Drivers Championship is what it’s all about in F1. Some argue that it’s a team event and it is to a certain extent, but no one really remembers who won the Constructors Championship 10 years ago, but most F1 fanatics will be able to tell you who won the Drivers’ Championship.
The issue that you have with this from a betting perspective is the market is made up of only a couple of drivers who have the potential to win given the car that they are in. The reliability and the speed of the cars play a huge role, and whilst driving talent does play into it significantly as well, if the driver doesn’t have the right car under them then they can’t win on talent alone.
Whilst many people are put off by this, we think that it allows you to open up other markets that are linked. It also means that even though you’ve got a field of 20 to choose from in this market, you only need to pick from say 4 or 5 drivers that are going to realistically be able to win it.
However, there is always a changing of the guard eventually. No one team has ever dominated every single season and you even see new teams start to challenge, which then means new Drivers start to challenge as well. We talk more about this in the strategy section.
Just as a quick overview then, when betting on the Drivers Championship, you are betting on the driver that finishes the season with the most points out of any of the others.
Other betting markets
Like all main betting markets, over the years there have been several related markets that have cropped alongside. Here are a few of them:
- Betting without – This market is where you are able to exclude one or more drivers from the running to create a more open field. This means that the driver that is “without” in the market will not be included in the overall standings. For example, if you bet on a market without Lewis Hamilton, if Hamilton won the Championship, the bet would be paid out for the driver that finished 2nd.
- Top 2/4/6/10 finish – This is a positions based bet where you are able to bet on drivers that finish within a certain number of positions on the table. The wider the positions, the shorter odds for each driver. It’s worth noting that for this it doesn’t matter where within that bracket they finish, as long as they are in it you get paid the same amount.
Each way betting
A bet that is not commonly associated with Formula 1 is that of each way betting. This is where you break a single bet into two, with half going on the win and half going on the place.
For the Drivers’ Championship, if you were to place an each way bet for the winner then the win portion of the bet would obviously be on your selected driver finishing 1st, but the place portion of the bet would be on them finishing in the top 2 spots. The bookmakers will pay out a percentage of the odds for the place bet, which is usually ¼ odds, although you can find higher if you shop around.
This bet allows you some wiggle room and also gets you a return for your selection if they aren’t quite able to get over the line first. A great time to use this is when you think teams are starting to come from a transitional period and become title contenders. It could be that a driver has been able to get into a better team or has a stronger car, but the place part of the bet gives you a bit of back up regardless.
As with all sports, you can apply a fair bit of strategy to the Drivers’ Championship, with some of our top tips below.
One of the things that you will notice with F1 is that there are often driver trends as to how many Championships they have won and when they have been able to win them. It’s not uncommon for drivers to go on winning several years on the bounce.
As a bettor though, you need to be able to see when the trends are starting and when they might be coming to an end. This is pretty tough to do, but when targeting for the next season you really need to be looking at how cars end the current/previous season as to how they might fare next year.
2009 is a really good example of trend spotting like this. Jenson Button won that year (notably his second Championship win in consecutive seasons), but the majority of his work was done in the first half of the season. Button didn’t actually win a race from the 7th Grand Prix in Tukey onwards, and there were 17 Grand Prix’s in the season.
The driver (and team) that finished the strongest that year was Sebastian Vettel driving for Red Bull. Red Bull were on pole for 4 of the last 6 races and Vettel for 2 of those, but Vettel also won 2 of the last 3 races that season and it was clear that the Red bull had the car that was finishing strongest coming into the next season.
This was underlined by the fact that Vettel then went on to win 4 consecutive Drivers Championships, a record only equalled by that of Juan Manuel Fangio and Michael Schumacher no less.
These are trends that might not be all that easy to spot, and when drivers and cars are in their prime it’s tough to see anyone beating them, but all these winning runs come to an end at some point. Eventually someone is able to get a better car than the last year’s winner and things change again.
Another point to make is that there have only been 16 multiple world championship winning drivers in F1 since 1950. This means that when drivers get in, they often stay right at the top.
Take pre-season testing with a big pinch of salt
One of the areas that many bettors used to follow religiously is watching teams in pre-season and seeing who was fastest there, before lumping a bet on the best drivers.
It’s pretty common knowledge now that a lot of teams don’t run at full capacity in pre-season testing, so you need to be really careful with this data.
Most F1 teams are insanely paranoid about leaking information on how their car is performing and how they might have improved it to their rivals. They use testing to work with certain aspects of the car and turn down other parts to keep a moderate overall speed.
For example, if they are testing a new front wing then they might adjust the rear wing to balance it out, whilst still getting the data they need at the front.