The 2018 Formula One season begins at the end of March with Lewis Hamilton looking to defend his Drivers’ Championship crown. The 33-year-old won his fourth title last season, beating rival Sebastian Vettel with a dominant run of form down the stretch.
Hamilton will now search for his second title on the bounce, which would take him clear of Vettel and level with Juan Manuel Fangio with five crowns, leaving him behind only Michael Schumacher. However, the Brit will be tested in his quest for the crown throughout the course of the season.
Vettel will lead the challengers, with Mercedes’ Valtteri Bottas along with Red Bull drivers Max Verstappen and Daniel Ricciardo also pushing for the Championship. It promises to be an enthralling battle and we’ll now break down our betting markets and tips for the 2018 season.
Drivers’ Championship Winner
The first item on the docket is deciding who will win the Drivers’ Championship. It’s a fairly simple task of picking the winner, with the best odds available before the start of the season before the results come thick and fast - although there will be a market for every driver on the circuit.
Experts will tell you there are six true contenders for the crown but they will come from the three leading teams; namely, Mercedes, Ferrari and Red Bull. The last winner that did not come from one of those outfits was Jenson Button in 2009.
In the last 17 seasons, only three drivers have triumphed when not racing for those three elite sides – Fernando Alonso, Hamilton and the previously mentioned Button. Consider value when lining up a bet on the Drivers’ Championship but there also has to be a realistic angle, so focus on the top six drivers – Hamilton, Vettel, Bottas, Verstappen, Ricciardo and Kimi Raikkonen.
The key points of the season are the opening three races of the term, with the drivers beginning to settle into their new cars. Vettel last season got off to a good start to put Hamilton under pressure. However, after Mercedes were allowed to adapt at the mid-season break, the Brit reigned in his rival. The middle break in the term proves to be just as important as the start of the campaign and is certainly worth monitoring.
Constructors’ Championship Winner
Another simple way to bet, which is simply lining up the team that will attain the most points in the campaign and combining the scores of their two drivers into a sum total.
Again, it’s dominated by the elite teams and it's not hard to predict which side will be up there at the end of the campaign: Mercedes, Ferrari and Red Bull. In the last 10 seasons, only Brawn has managed to break the stranglehold of Mercedes and Red Bull at the top of the standings.
Even Ferrari has endured a drought, failing to win the Constructors’ Championship since 2008 when Felipe Massa and Kimi Raikkonen combined to win the crown. This is reflected in the Italian outfit’s 7/2 odds for the 2018 campaign.
Pre-Season Prop Bets
There are a few proposition bets that can be made before the start of the season. For instance, there are markets available for how many victories Hamilton et al will have over the course of the term. The same bet can be made regarding pole positions and retirements.
Hamilton has averaged 10 wins per year since 2014, which could be worth tracking in an over/under market. Vettel has averaged two wins a season in the same time period, which is incredibly noteworthy in the battle for the crown. Retirements ruined the 2017 campaign for Verstappen and to some degree Ricciardo.
The Dutchman was forced out of seven races last term. Reliability has been an issue at Red Bull, making the completed races market one to watch, especially for the Austrian outfit.
The simplest bet to take during a Grand Prix weekend is picking the winner of the race. Hamilton will likely lead the way with the shortest odds due to his dominance over the last four seasons. Vettel will not be far behind him.
Therefore, you will not find the best value by choosing a race winner. Indeed the two drivers, especially Hamilton, have their fortress venues where they are rarely beaten. As a result, it’s worth analysing where they are weaker. Hamilton, for example, has struggled at the Australian Grand Prix, recording just two wins in 11 attempts.
Compare that to his record in China and the United Kingdom, where he has notched five victories on each circuit over the course of his career. Analysing the circuits is also a worthwhile venture. The tight corners of Monte Carlo for the Monaco Grand Prix throw up interesting results – therefore it’s worth paying attention to past records at venues before taking a punt.
Another form of punt for the racing weekend is decided on the Saturday before the race. Earning pole is all about the speed around the track rather than the specific tactics for the Grand Prix. The odds will be shortest on the leading teams, with the usual suspects. However, it has been known to spring a surprise or two in recent history.
Practice sessions before qualifying can offer an insight into how the battle for first place on the grid will fall. There’s no exact science behind it but, again, monitoring past successes on the circuit along with form could yield positive results.
This bet allows the possibility for drivers for the lesser teams to feature in your bet, picking a competitor to finish in the top three of the Grand Prix. You will see the less fancied drivers weave their way into contention at least on a handful of occasions over the course of the season.
The value of the odds drops from winner to podium due to the greater chance of success. As a result, monitoring form and perhaps experience at a venue could see the bet be a fruitful endeavour.
Top Six Finish
Placing a bet for a driver to finish in the top six offers a different market to break up the monotony of winner or pole bets. Value is affected due to the stronger possibility of the result. However, if you fancy one of the lesser-known competitors to pull off an upset, it’s worth a crack.
The market is simply who does the fastest lap of the track. Usually, it will be the leading car due to open space ahead of the driver. However, it has been known to throw up surprises now and again.
Paying attention to qualifying is key for this market to assess the speeds of all cars on the circuit and whether they will be able to replicate the form on race day.
Margin Of Victory
This is an over-under for the margin of the driver’s triumph on race day. The market will offer odds on over/under six seconds, or 10 seconds depending on the comfort of the win. Incredible small and large margins of victory will have the best value as close finishes and truly dominant victories are rarely seen on Sundays. Therefore, it will be best to back them to yield a healthy profit.
*Odds subject to change - correct at time of writing*