Formula 1, also known as F1 or the FIA Formula One World Championship, is an auto racing league with a massive international fanbase. In fact, the 2010 season drew an estimated global television audience of 527 million.
Given the popularity of the sport, and the fact that races are held on multiple continents, it should come as no surprise that bookmakers offer a number of wagering opportunities for fans. This article is meant to explain the various options for those who want to bet on Formula 1, as well as tips for improving your chances of success.
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F1 Championship Points
While NASCAR features a points race that crowns a champion driver at the end of the season, Formula 1 takes it a step further. The Drivers' Championship is given to the racer with the most points, and the Constructors' Championship goes to the team with the most points (since all Formula 1 teams are required to build the chassis they compete with).
The winner of a race (also known as a "Grand Prix") receives 25 points, and the other top 10 finishers also earn points towards the championship. Teams, meanwhile, receive points for all of their drivers who finish in the top 10. Starting in 2015, the final race of the season features double points.
In order to gain points, a driver must be "classified." This means the driver completed at least 90% of the course. Therefore, it's possible for a driver to withdraw before the end of the race and still receive points toward the overall championship.
Types of Formula 1 Bets
Bookmakers offer a variety of wagers in order to keep the betting public interested. The following are the types of Formula One bets that you're most likely to come across:
Race Winner - This is the most straightforward wager, as the bettor wins if their driver finishes first in a Grand Prix event.
Podium Finish - This bet pays out if your driver finishes in the top three and stands on the winner's podium. In the case of an appeal or steward enquiry, bookmakers usually stand by the podium results.
Drivers' World Championship - The bettor attempts to predict which driver will win the season-long points race. In some cases, a payout may be issued if the driver finishes within the top two.
Constructors' World Championship - All the cars run by a specific team figure into this wager, and it pays off if your chosen team captures the season-long points race. Since certain teams tend to be the dominant forces in F1, these odds can often be lopsided (Mercedes 1/750 and Ferrari 1000/1).
Top Six Finish - An expanded version of the podium finish. In order for the bettor to collect money, their driver must finish in the top six.
Points Finish - The driver must finish in the top 10. Since this gives the bettor a superior chance of getting a payout, you can expect the odds to be much lower than the race winner or podium finish.
Fastest Lap - In order to win this wager, your chosen driver needs to complete the fastest single lap around the course. This is an excellent option for those who find their attention waning in the middle stages of the race.
Pole Position - The drivers run a qualifying session on Saturday to determine the starting order of the cars at the Grand Prix the following day. In order to win this wager, the driver of your choice must win the qualifying race and capture the pole position (first spot) for Sunday.
Driver vs Driver - This wager pits two drivers against one another. In order to win, you'll need to bet on the one who finishes higher in the standings. If neither driver finishes the race, then the winner is the person with the most completed laps.
Safety Car Deployment - This unique prop bets pays off if a safety car is deployed after the start of the race.
Driver Retirement - If a driver retires, it means they are unable to finish the race. Unreliable cars or weather conditions can play a major factor in this one, although the wager isn't offered by all bookmakers.
Additional Prop Bets - Creative bookmakers are always coming up with new options, so be sure to pay close attention to all the wagers being offered before the start of the race. These can range from the nationality of the winner to the number of drivers to be classified (finish at least 90% of the race).
Reading Fractional Odds
Since Formula 1 is most popular in Europe, it's common to find their odds expressed in a fractional form such as 4/1. The number on the left is the amount you'll win, and the number on the right is the amount you'll have to wager.
For an example, let's look at 5/1 and 1/5 odds. According to the above explanation, 5/1 odds require you to wager $1 to win $5. And for 1/5 odds, you'll need to bet $5 in order to win $1.
Formula 1 Betting Tips
While placing casual wagers can be exciting, the serious bettor always looks for an edge. If you want to increase your chances of winning, keep the following factors in mind:
- New Technology - Is the team introducing some new form of technology to their cars? If so, this can have a definite impact on the race. While teams can sometimes be tight-lipped about such information, you can often find valuable clues by reading the pre-race driver comments on Twitter or Facebook.
- Track History - The style of a driver may be better suited to certain tracks, so it pays to analyze their past performances at the different venues.
- Watch the Weather - Some drivers excel during wet conditions, while others struggle in the rain. When the track becomes treacherous, it can also improve the odds of a lesser-known driver pulling off an upset.
- Watch the Races - While you can analyze all kinds of data, there's no substitute for actually watching the races. In addition to making you well-versed in the sport, you'll pick up things that wouldn't be noticed in a pile of stats.
- Keep Notes - As you watch the various Grand Prix events, be sure to keep your own notes about the drivers and their cars. While lots of information can be found on the Internet, it's a poor substitute for the data you'll compile during the race.