As the name suggests, the fastest lap betting market is concerned with the driver who will clock the official fastest lap during a race. This is a market you can find across several motorsports but here our focus will be Formula 1. The bet itself involves selecting a specific driver, the one you predict will achieve the quickest lap time over the course of the whole Grand Prix.
By opting for this bet, it can help add an extra layer of excitement to the F1 experience. This is partly because it is a market that is never settled until the very end of the race. At any time any driver still on the track could potentially end up beating the leading lap time, putting themselves as the lap leader.
To a casual observer, it may seem fairly unimportant to know which driver has the fastest single lap time in a 44+ lap race (44 being the Belgian GP, which has the fewest circuits of all the races). In Formula 1 though, it is something that carries significance and tends to feature prominently in the final results.
Partly this is because the quest for the fastest lap is quite a unique challenge. Drivers cannot just go flat-out all the time, instead, they must balance their speed throughout the race, and then pick the perfect moment to give that little extra. It’s not just a matter of raw pace; it’s also about strategy and timing. Fuel load, tyre wear and track conditions (both in terms of the surface and in terms of traffic) are also huge factors in a driver’s ability to set the fastest lap.
Not only this but the driver who achieves the fastest lap earns an extra point in the World Championship standings. This is a rule that was reintroduced in 2019, provided that the driver finishes within the top 10 places. Although it is a small amount compared to the 25 available for a win, some championships have been settled by tiny margins before. So, given this additional incentive, drivers have to push themselves, and it does make the fastest lap betting market an attractive option for bettors looking for an exciting wager that should keep them interested for much of the race.
Other Fastest Lap Markets
- Fastest Lap and Race Winner – In this market, you’re betting on a specific driver to both secure the fastest lap of the race and also win the Grand Prix. As both conditions must be met for your bet to be successful, it is a more challenging bet than a standard ‘fastest lap’ wager but this is reflected by the increased odds
- Fastest Qualifier, Fastest Lap and Race Winner – Similar to above but the difference being that in addition to winning the race and clocking the fastest lap, the selected driver must also win qualifying. This bet is also sometimes listed as the hat-trick and if the driver fails with any one of these three, the bet is a loser
- Fastest Lap by Team/Car – Rather than naming a specific driver, this market allows you to pick the team that you think will record the fastest lap during the race. With half as many options to select from, it is a simpler market to call right
Fastest Lap Betting Rules
When placing bets on the fastest lap market, it’s essential to be aware of the rules that apply when settling bets. The below rules are quite standard so you should find they apply at most bookmakers, but be mindful that variations are possible.
- Final Lap – Drivers will still be eligible to register the fastest lap during their final lap even if the race winner has already been determined
- Official Lap Times – For the purposes of settling bets, the official FIA result at the time of the podium presentation will be used. Adjustments made after this time will not impact bet settlement
- Dead Heats – Should two drivers share the fastest lap time in a race, dead heat rules will apply, though due to the accuracy of F1 timekeeping this is almost impossible
- Change to Race Format – Bets on the fastest lap will still stand even if there is a change to the number of laps in a race
- Qualification & Practice Times – The fastest lap betting market does not take into account any times recorded during qualification or practice
Fastest Lap Statistics
Examining data on drivers who have recorded the fastest laps in the past can provide insights into making informed bets. The table below shows the drivers who recorded the highest number of fastest laps for each season, and how many race wins they secured.
As you can see from the data from recent years, it is very possible to win lots of races without always setting the fastest lap. The best driver in any given season may be able to win half of all races during a full season (or even more) but it is exceptionally rare to see anyone record the fastest lap so often. Assuming Max Verstappen does not accomplish this feat in 2023, the last time it happened was back in 2008 with Kimi Raikkonen (10 in 18 races).
Due to this, the fastest lap betting market is more open than the ‘to win’ market, which can help make it a little more exciting. That said, you will often find the same driver at the top of both markets because there is still a decent link between the two. In the eight years looked at above, the only driver that failed to win the championship was Bottas (Verstappen won in 2021, trailed very narrowly by Hamilton). The Finn is a truly peculiar outlier because despite his ability to out-pace his competitors on a single lap, he finished the season fifth in the drivers’ standings, without a single win.
The above chart also reinforces the point about the fastest lap market being more open. In all of the eight seasons looked at, more individual drivers recorded at least one fastest lap time than they did a win. You do not have to be among the very best drivers to record a fastest time, merely be in a position where it makes sense to go flat-out combined with favourable conditions such as having no nearby traffic. You do need a half-decent car too of course!
This does bring an element of unpredictability to the market and of course there are never any certainties in betting. The rule changes have made the market even more unpredictable though, with the addition of a point as a reward meaning that teams and drivers may go all out for the fastest lap late on when in the past they would not have bothered.
Factors to Consider in Fastest Lap Betting
If you are weighing up a fastest lap bet, there are certain key elements to consider each time. By taking these into consideration, you should find you are better placed to identify the ‘good value’ selection and hopefully make a correct prediction.
Understanding the characteristics of the race track is crucial. Some circuits favour certain drivers due to their driving styles or their car’s performance characteristics. The track’s layout and the nature of its corners can therefore significantly impact a driver’s ability to set the fastest lap. For this reason, you should always check who has recorded the fastest lap times in previous seasons as you do get some course specialists.
Weather conditions can significantly impact a driver’s ability to record the fastest lap. Rain or changing weather can create opportunities for drivers who excel in these conditions. It’s important to stay informed about the weather forecast for the race day, as wet conditions can disrupt the playing field and offer surprises in terms of the fastest laps.
With drivers pushing themselves to record their best possible time during qualification, this can give some real insight into their fastest-lap potential during the race. If a driver has struggled during qualification, without any real excuse, you are probably right to question if they have the ability – and car – to register the fastest race lap.
A driver’s recent performances and form in the season are something you should never ignore for fastest lap betting. Gaining these split-second advantages often takes bravery and confidence, qualities easier to acquire if you have been driving well of late. A driver that has crashed their car in the past two races, by contrast, is likely to approach their next contest with a little more caution (you would assume).
At first you may think that the driver leading the race is best placed to record the fastest lap. After all, they are not stuck behind any other driver, who could potentially slow them down (unless lapping a car), giving them an undisturbed path. The issue is though, that if a driver is comfortably winning a race there is little incentive for them to really go all out. Yes, there is the possibility of a bonus point but is it worth risking the 25 for a shot at an extra 1? This is partly why it is not remotely unusual to see the fastest lap set by someone other than the race winner.
Although most fastest lap bets are made pre-race, many bookies allow you to place them mid-race as well. In-play betting can provide an opportunity to observe race dynamics and make informed decisions based on real-time performance. You just have to bear in mind though that the bookie will adjust their odds based on the current situation too, so the odds will likely shrink on a driver that seems to be flying.