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Driver's Championship - Best Odds

Sunday, 10 March 2013, by

2013 World Driver's Championship

Betting on the 2013 drivers championship before the season has started is not recommended. Without knowing which team has the best car it is very difficult to predict. The main information is last year and winter testing. In 2012 the quickest car varied between Red Bull and McLaren, with Ferrari and Lotus behind. Meanwhile Lotus and Ferrari had excellent reliability, Red Bull were okay whilst the McLaren failed mechanically many times. However, it is difficult to judge if this has changed. Since each car will have different fuel loads, the lap times they post in winter testing are not a reliable means of judging strength. Waiting until the championship develops or betting on individual races is recommended instead.

The final test times put Rosberg, Alonso and Hamilton on top of the combined times for Barcelona, reports Fomula1.com. Factoring in estimated fuel loads and it looks like all the top five teams are within about three tenths of each others, reports the the BBC. It looks like it will be a very competitive and varied season but this makes predicting the drivers world championship very difficult.

The most obvious contender will be the Red Bull, primarily based upon their pace of last year. During testing they have rarely set quick times but Red Bull usually try and hide their pace so this proves nothing. Whilst there is no reason to suspect Red Bull will not be very competitive this year, this can only judged by comparison with the other teams who we have more information on. Webber thinks that the Red Bull will not be dominate, reports ESPN so Vettle's odds of 8/5 (2.6) from Paddy Power are not terrible value for money but are probably not the best bet. Meanwhile, Webber's odds are much higher at 20/1 (21.00) from Bet 365 but it is difficult to imagine Webber taking the championship if Vettel is unable to.

Ferrari seem generally pleased with their car. Although it is still slower than the Red Bull, the situations is vastly better than the start of the 2012 season, with Alonso claiming the Ferrari is 200 times better than a year ago, reports ESPN. Given how close Alonso came to victory in 2012 he is a strong contender. His odds of 3/1 (4.00) from Blue Squareare certainly as good as Vettel's. Massa is an interesting outsider. Although his first half of 2012 was terrible, during the second half he actually scored more points than Alonso if every time Massa handed a position to Alonso did not occur. Whilst still very unlikely to win, odds of 66/1 (67.00) from Bet 365 could be worth a small bet.

Despite often having the fastest car in 2012, McLaren do not look currently very strong. They appeared to be slightly behind the pace of the top teams, reports the the BBC [http://www.bbc.co.uk/sport/0/formula1/21650532]. They are likely struggle at the start of the season. However, unlike many of the other top teams, they have made a considerable upgrade to their car. As these are tested and tweaked, we can expect the McLaren to improve. The McLaren is a long term car, reports ESPN. If true then avoid betting on Button or Perez until after the first few races. Their odds will likely increase as their current low pace is revealed, giving good odds if they will improve throughout the season.

Lotus surprised many by being so competitive in 2012. Although they should still be competitive for race wins, it appears they are probably not yet quicker than their rivals. Grosjean thinks Lotus are in the top 4 or 5 cars, reports ESPN. Raikkonen will likely get the most out of his car and must be considered a strong contender given his performance last year. His odds of 12/1 from Bet 365 are not bad.

Mercedes appears to the wild card of the season. They had some success in 2012 but had a very weak second half of the season. It was very unexpected for Hamilton and Rosberg to set the fasted times on the last two days of testing, reports Sky Sports. The general consensus is that the Mercedes will have a unexpectedly successful season. Hamilton's odds of 19/2 (10.5) from Betfair are worth a small bet. Rosberg has far higher odds but few rate Rosberg as highly as Hamilton.

The recommended bets are Alonso, Raikkonen and Hamilton. However, all of this is very speculative. Whilst it can be enjoyable to place a small bet on the championship, it is so much more of a true gamble compared to races where the pace of each team is roughly evident, where past performance at the track is known and the times from free practice or qualifying is known. Avoiding the championship and betting on individual races is recommended.

Odds above accurate at Sunday 10th March, 20.28 GMT. Click to see live odds.

The dynamics of the championship has suddenly finally settled down as the championship goes into the final quarter of races. Prior to Korea Hamilton looked like Alonso’s greatest challenger and even only two races ago in Italy Raikkonen was a reasonable outsider bet. However, two factors have changed everything. Hamilton’s retirement in Singapore has probably ended his championship bid whilst Alonso’s retirement in Japan has vastly narrowed his lead. Meanwhile, Alonso always looked like the 2012 champion as long as race victories were spread between all his main competitors. However, Vettel’s victories in Singapore and Japan have made this a two horse race, between Vettel at 31/50 (1.62) from SkyBet for the championship and Alonso at 81/50 (2.62) from Bet 365 .

Vettel certainly currently looks like the most likely to take the championship. He has had an excellent run of races since the Summer break. He was in 12th position after the 2nd lap of Belgium yet finished 2nd. He was 4th at Italy – probably the worst track for the Red Bull - until taking the penalty for forcing Alonso off the track, working he way back to 6th until the retirement from mechanical error. Hamilton’s retirement at Singapore gave Vettel a lucky victory but ignoring that he’d easily have finished 2nd. Finally, his victory at Japan looked like an emulation of 2011 performance. Alonso’s current performance is more difficult to judge, having been taken out on the first lap at Belgium and Japan. He had an excellent race in Italy, finishing 3rd from starting 10th and his 3rd place finish in Korea was respectable. There’s no denying that Alonso is currently extremely competitive but Vettel has generally looked stronger since the summer break.

Looking back at 2010 and 2011, Vettel was far stronger at the forthcoming circuits this season. He retired from 1st in Korea in 2010 and won in 2011. He won India in 2011 (there was no 2010 race in India). He won Abu Dhabi in 2010 and retired from 1st in 2011. Finally he won Brazil in 2010 and was 1st until a mechanical failure in 2011. This means that of remaining races this year (obviously except America), Vettel would have probably won every single one in both 2010 and 2011 except for mechanical error. By contrast, Alonso only managed four podiums in those seven races and only one victory after Vettel’s retirement in Korea in 2010. Vettel very clearly holds the upper hand based on previous years.

The only hope for any other driver would be both Vettel and Alonso suffering at least one retirement in the remaining five races. Hamilton has odds of 20/1c(21.00) from Betfair and Raikkonen has odds of 40/1 (41.00) from Paddy Power . Hamilton is probably the better bet despite lower odds since he arguably still has the fastest car although only moderately so compared to the Red Bull. However, assuming that Hamilton wins the next race and both Vettel and Alonso failed to score he’d still be 13 points behind them with only four races remaining. This makes him truly an outsider bet. Raikkonen is five points ahead of Hamilton but with so few races remaining he could not narrow the gap on consistency alone, he would have to have race victories but has yet to win this season. He cannot be recommended for a bet.

Despite the lowest odds, Vettel is the only recommended bet. Given his dominance at the remaining courses in previous years and strong results in recent races there’s a high chance he will still take the title even if he has another retirement in the remaining races. Perhaps the most likely route to victory for Alonso would be to have Vettel retire once more whilst Hamilton takes most the remaining victories, meaning Vettel would be unable to score decent points to make up the deficit. Whilst it is not impossible for Alonso to win his odds are too low to be value for money.

Odds above accurate at October 11th, 14:23 GMT. Click to see live odds.

2012 has seen substantially more diverse race results than 2011 or 2010. During those two years, Hamilton, Button, Vettel, Webber and Alonso took all the victories and 89% of the podium places. This year, Mercedes and Williams have won races whilst Lotus and Sauber have reached the podium and could have taken a victory.

Despite this, five drivers have broken away as realistic contenders for the championship. Alonso is leading the championship and is the current favourite. Many consider him the current greatest driver, this may be true but it is questionable if he has the car to take the world championship this year. Alonso's win in Malaysia was due to Hamilton's unlucky slow pitstop whilst Alonso would not have won Valencia without Vettel retiring from mechanical issues. Without that luck, Alonso would currently be around 3rd in the championship. His win in Germany was well deserved but there is little reason to believe he would have won without poll position. That was only the second time in two years he started from P1 on the grid, the other being the previous race at Silverstone and both were reliant for on rain for poll.

It is very difficult not to imagine the other drivers slowly catching Alonso as the season progresses, the only question is if he has built enough of a lead to take the world championship. Since the championship will probably go down to the last few races, the chances are Alonso's odds will increase as other drivers catch him. Waiting for his current odds of Betfair to increase is advised.

Although Alonso is between 40 and 50 points ahead of Hamilton, Webber, Vettel and Raikkonen it is possible for any of them to catch up. If any one of those drivers won the next two races whilst Alonso finishes no higher than 8th then they'd be slightly above, equal or just behind Alonso. Alternatively, if Webber or Vettel finished an average of 5 points ahead for the remaining 9 races they would take the championship. The same is true if Hamilton or Raikkonen finished an average of 6 points ahead of Alonso. Alonso taking the championship is far from assured.

The major obstacle to anyone overtaking Alonso is that so many drivers are competing for that top spot. Vettel, Webber, Alonso and Raikkonen keep taking points from one another and even one driver does rises above the others it is extremely difficult to determine which will.

A few races into 2012 and Hamilton had a couple of pole positions, good race performance and looked favourite for the championship. Mistakes in the pit lane and unlucky penalties cost him race victories but it looked as though if Hamilton could have a few incident free races he'd probably be leading the championship. Unfortunately, Hamilton then did not matched that early performance, with only one (disqualified) pole position and one no podiums beyond his win in the seven races prior to Germany. The upgrade package introduced in Germany helped him take to true dominance at Hungary with victory, fastest in all three qualifying sessions and two of the three practice sessions. With so many poll positions this season and such strong race pace Hamilton has an equal chance of taking the championship as Vettel but considerably higher odds at 6.5 from Betfair.

There is very little between both Red Bull drivers currently. Vettel has more poll positions but Webber has more wins and more championship points. Both drivers have improved since the first three races, Vettel found his skill at setting pole laps again whilst Webber has stopped consistently coming 4th and instead won races. Being so evenly matched currently, both drivers will likely go into the final races of the year neck and neck. Neither driver has an edge over the other but Webber has odds nearly four times as high at 16.00 from Betfair. compared to Vettel at 4.23 from Betfair. A bet on Webber for world champion is by far better value for money. Webber has lookes far stronger than his odds suggest. He won Monoco, had a DRS failure at Valencia when the Red Bull otherwise looked very strong, won Silverstone, gear box change meant a grid penalty at Germany, team error meant he missed Q3 in Hungary when he was quickest in free practice 3 then penalty at Belgium from another gear box change. His recent spate of bad results is due to back luck so is not an indication of poor potential. 16.00 is excellent value for money.

The big outsider is Raikkonen. After two year of McLaren, Red Bull and Ferrari competing for the championship another team is mounting a challenge. Raikkonen looked good at the start of the season and has recently had a series of strong performances, finishing top 5 including two podiums in all the last four races. Having been so close to a win this season, a race victory this year looks likely fairly likely. However, there is good reason to believe the odds are against Raikkonen taking the championship. The Lotus performs well on warmer circuits so has had an advantage over the summer that will fade as the autumn sets in. Also, Raikkonen has only had one incident this year, failing to make Q2 in Australia. Beyond this Raikkonen has avoided more than his share of misfortune of mechanical errors or race incidents (though some would argue that avoiding problems on the track is due to Raikkonen's careful driving). If the Lotus slows down on the colder tracks and if Raikkonen starts having some bad luck then odds of 11.00 from Betfair is not good value for money.

The best odds are currently Hamilton and Webber whilst waiting for Alonso's odds to increase is also worthwhile.

Driver's Championship