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Storm clouds loom over Interlagos
FP3 Results
1st
Button
2nd
Vettel
3rd
Webber
4th
Hamilton
5th
Grosjean
6th
di Resta
7th
Hulkenberg
8th
Alonso
9th
Maldonado
10th
Massa
11th
Senna
12th
Rosberg
13th
Perez
14th
Kobayashi
15th
Schumacher
16th
Ricciardo
17th
Vergne
18th
Petrov
The rain is on the horizon but with no one certain if it arrive in time for qualifying this could be the most unpredictable battle for pole this season. The usual safe bets are today far from safe but this opens opportunities for those willing to make risky bets.

Hamilton and Vettel are joint favourites to win qualifying, with odds of 47/25 (2.88) from Blue Square and 47/25 (2.88) from SkyBet respectively. Neither of these odds are exceptional value for money. Button was two tenths quicker than Hamilton yet only has odds of 33/10 (4.30) from Bet 365whilst Webber was only a tenth slower than Vettel yet has odds of 15.0 from Bet 365. The usual two contenders for pole, Vettel and Hamilton have lowers odds yet do not look particularly stronger than the competitors. With four drivers being so close there is very little to choose between them and none can be recommended.

The key issue is the rain, with the possibility of rain towards the end of qualifying. If so this will likely change everything. However, the last race with rain was Germany and the cars have developed massively since them. However, back then the McLarens were very weak in the rain whilst Alonso was masterful. On this basis, unless you wait until qualifying is taking place before betting, the McLaren is best avoided. Meanwhile, Alonso's odds of 21/1 (22.00) from Betfair are excellent value for money. This bet would be purely dependent upon the rain and the hope that the comparitive speed in the rain will not have changed since Silverstone. Since both of these possibilities are reasonable possibilities a small bet on Alonso is worthwhile.

Odds above accurate at Sunday 24th, 15.19GMT. Click to see live odds.

Image © Leandro's World Tour

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.


Reaction and fallout after the crash at Spa continues. Grosjean hit Hamilton and collected between them Alonso, Perez and Kobayashi. Grosjean has been given a one race ban and will miss Monza, reports Sky Sports.

A very unusual qualifying session.
Qualifying Results
Starting Position
1st
Button
2nd
Kobyashi
3rd
Maldonado*
4th
Raikkonen
5th
Perez
6th
Alonso
6th
Webber*
8th
Hamilton
9th
Grosjean
10th
di Resta
11th
Vettel
12th
Hulkenberg
13th
Schumacher
14th
Massa
15th
Vergne
16th
Ricciardo
17th
Senna
18th
Rosberg
*Maldonado – 3 place penalty.
*Webber – 5 place penalty.

Button takes his first poll position in two years during one of t strangest qualifying results in the last few seasons. Both Saubers achieved their best qualifying position with Kobayashi 2nd and Perez 5th. Raikkonen also had best qualifying of the year by coming in 4th. Maldonado's excellent 3rd was demoted to 6th after blocking a car in the pitlane (see Planet F1), promoting Raikkonen, Perez and Alonso.

There is no obvious reason why so many drivers who are relatively weak at qualifying have taken substantially higher grid positions than the Red Bulls or Hamilton. Since it is unclear why this happened it is also unclear if those who qualified well will be able to retain pace during the race. Caution is heavily advised for betting on Spa this year.

Jenson Button is the favourite to win with odds of 7/5 (2.40) from Paddy Power. The McLaren generally does not suit Spa that well and there is speculation that Button was so much quicker than Hamilton because his car was set up for qualifying so these odds are not brilliant. Raikkonen is second favourite with 7/2 (4.50) from Bet 365. Raikkonen almost always does better in the race than qualifying, the Lotus having arguably the best race pace of any car in the field. Having won here four times, Raikkonen has an excellent chance of taking a fifth victory at Spa from 3rd on the grid. 7/2 (4.50) is good odds though also placing a equally sized bet on Button would ensure a profit whichever wins would be wise.

The big uncertainty are Sauber. They usually do well in high speed tracks in colder weather which puts them at home in Belgium. In the correct conditions the Sauber often show massive race pace and can often finish far ahead of where they qualify, Perez taking podiums from 10th and 15th on the grid. If Spa is one of the courses that maximises their potential pace – and qualifying suggests that it is – then a win cannot be discounted. 113/10 (14.3) from Betfair for Kobayashi and 83/5 (17.60) from Betfair for Perez are both worth at least a small bet. If victory sounds ambitious then podiums at 57/25 (3.28) from Betfair for Kobayashi and 7/2 (4.50) from SkyBet for Perez seem good value given that the Saubers usually finishing higher than they qualify. The Saubers may split their strategy, with Kobayashi covering the leaders whilst Perez tries his own strategy which he has so masterfully pulled of in the past so hopefully at least one Sauber will find the best strategy and take the podium. Top 6 are also good odds at 67/100 (1.67) from Blue Square for Kobayashi and 1/1 (2.00) from Blue Square for Perez.

The best strategy would be betting on all the top four for victory, trying to break even on a Button victory and profit for the other four. As a rough approximate example, betting £30 with £12 on Button, £14 on Raikkonen, £3 on Kobayashi and £2 on Perez would yield £1 profit if Button wins, £14 if Raikkonen wins, £12 if Kobayashi wins and £10 if Perez wins. The major challenge to this plan is Alonso in 5th. Maldonado should hold up many of the pack who lacked pace in qualifying and additionally di Resta might hold up Vettel in 11th and a demoted Webber in 12th (see ESPN.). Alonso's relentless nature is renowned but his win's at Malyasia and Valencia were dependent upon a car higher up the field having a slow pit stop or retiring . Since Alonso free admits his car is weaker than the Lotus and the McLaren it is difficult to imagine him taking victory without luck coming his way (see ESPN). Overall though, with so many uncertainties after such a bizarre qualifying it is very difficult to guess what race pace each car will approximately have so live betting or simply avoiding betting on Spa this year might ultimately prove wisest.

Odds above accurate at Saturday 2nd, 01.02 GMT. Click to see live odds.

Image © samarvid

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.

Race winner is probably the most popular bet but not necessarily the best. Although the odds are usually higher than other bets race, betting on the winner is much more specific, only paying off if the car ends in one specific position unlike bets on podium, top six or top ten. This specificity means that all the relevant factors have far more influence; being confident that a driver will finish in 4th position rather than 5th does not matter when betting on top six but being confident a car will finish 1st rather than 2nd is precisely what betting on race winner is all about. Betting on race winner is much more of a classic gamble than the safer lower odds betting like top 6 or top 10. Some people prefer the gamble, some people prefer safer lower pay off betting but mixing the two is the best.

Generally, most race victories come from 3rd position or higher. Try and get a bet upon each of the top three qualifiers for that race. Aim to break even if one or maybe two of the top 3 drivers wins and then place a higher bet upon which of the top three you think will win or has the best odds. For example, at Silverstone 2012 Alonso was on poll with 2/1 (3.00) for victory, Webber second at 5/1 (6.00) and Schumacher third at 11/1 (12.0). If you put £10 on each then an Alonso win sees you break even, Webber makes you £40 and Schumacher pays off a handsome £120. Details of such bets will be found on the main blog after qualifying. Some courses vary from the norm, with some courses only seeing victories from 1st or 2nd on the grid. Details for specific courses can be found on the stats page. Also, some drivers only win from high qualifying positions whereas other drivers sometimes win from much further down the field. Details from the last decade can be found on the pre-weekend blog post. Finally, some drivers prefer certain tracks and this will be noted in the pre-weekend blog post.

Prior to the qualifying and the practice sessions drivers will have higher odds than after the grid order is known. Taking advantage of this uncertainty is advised in limited quantities. Consider how a driver has performed here before and consider his current form. Also, factor in which courses suit which cars. All this is discussed on the pre-weekend blog post. Placing a small amount of money on a few drivers who the statistics favour or who have unreasonably low odds is wise. If these drivers then qualify badly little money is lost but if one ends up on poll you have money on him at far higher odds than are available after qualifying.

Red Bull have usually been strongest for victory in the previous few years. By contrast, this year after Hungary, Red Bull, McLaren and Ferrari have three victories each. Despite this Red Bull are still arguably the most powerful overall team. There reliability is only beaten by Ferrari, they make fewer pit stop errors than most top teams, they are considerably quicker than Ferrari and perform better in the rain than McLaren. However, victory is far from certain and they are only a good bet if qualifying well, Vettel having never won from below 3rd and Webber from below 2nd on the grid. Hamilton is only marginally weaker overall but on any course suiting the McLaren Hamilton is a better bet than the Red Bulls. Alonso is the driver out performing his car, leading the world championship with a car slower than the McLaren, the Red Bull and maybe even the Lotus. His victories this year have usually come from qualifying high due to the rain or because some competitors crashed out when he qualifies relatively low in the dry. Only bet on Alonso for races where rain is likely though he is certainly one to watch for live betting.

Neither Lotus has won yet but with plenty of podiums a victory this season is likely. Their major problem is weak qualifying as they have arguably the best race pace of the field. Their odds often decrease after qualifying because of this though really they need to qualify at least top four for victory to be anything but a high odds bet. Their strong race speed makes them ones to watch for live betting. For Mercedes, Rosberg has won once this season and Schumacher has qualifying top 4 in over half the races this season. Another victory might be possible but after a series of weak results over the summer only bet on victory if they qualify top 3. However, since they usually do better in qualifying than the race it might be best watching them for live betting to see if they can retain the pace rather than betting heavily on them even after qualifying well. Perez has looked very impressive at times this season, two podiums and potentially a victory in Malaysia. However, he is too much an outsider for victory currently but is one to watch for live betting. Maldonado won in Spain but since then failed to score a single point. Despite very high odds he is not worth betting on for victory unless he qualifies top three.

Ferrari have strongly hinted that they intend to replace Massa for 2013 and many drivers are being considered for his seat. Massa has under-performed since his 2009 accident in Hungary. He is currently 14th in the championship, 139 points down on Alonso. Although Sky Sports report he is not thinking about contracts, Massa being replaced is both likely and sensible.

Ferrari are believed to give Alonso a veto over team mates, ruling out Vettel or Hamilton. Team Principle Stefano Domenicali has stated that Ferrari is only on the market for a number two driver, reports One Stop Strategy. Webber and Button were in talks with Ferrari whilst Raikkonen is rumored, so Ferrari have a loose definition of number two. More realistically, the likely contenders are Hulkenberg, di Resta, Kovalainen, Kobayashi and Perez, reports One Stop Strategy.

The president of Ferrari has stated Perez is too inexperienced, which would also rule out Hulkenberg and di Resta. Kovalainen seems the most likely option, having started F1 two years before Kobayashi. A one year contract would be likely, allowing Ferrari another year to assess Perez, Hulkenberg, di Resta or even a recovered Kubica for a long term contract.

Image © bennovakovic

The 11th Race of 2012, Hungarian Grand Prix at the Hungaroring

Previous Winners
2011
Button
2010
Webber
2009
Hamilton
2008
Kovalainen
2007
Hamilton
2006
Button
2005
Raikkonen
2004
Schumacher
2003
Alonso
2002
Barrichello

The Hungaroring is typically a McLaren hunting ground, with five victories in the last six races. Only Webber, in 2010, has broken their dominance. The race has been won from 4th position or better in all but one race for the last ten years. Strangely, the race has not been won from pole since 2004.

With pole position being no guarantee of success, drivers who are weaker at qualifying usually have good odds for victory. Button has near double Hamliton's odds at 9/1 (10.00) from Ladbrokes and he looked back on the pace at Hockenheim. Webber's odds are almost three times Vettel's at 12/1 (11.00) from StanJames, despite Webber's weakness of qualifying not mattering at the Hungaroring. Raikkonen showed excellent pace in Germany, going from 10th to 4th on the grid. 14/1 (15.00) from StanJames are good odds, though betting on a podium if he does not qualify top 4 may pay off. There might be rain on Sunday so considering waiting on the forecast and bet on Alonso, Button and Schumacher if a wet race is likely.

Vettle is the current favourite at 3/1 (4.00) from 888sport, on a track he has never won. Webber has odds three times as high at 12/1 (13.00) from StanJames despite winning here in 2010. The course suits the Red Bull and Webber has the best odds.

Alonso is second favourite for victory at 7/2 (4.50) from 888sport. With the Red Bull and the McLaren suiting the Hungaroring better than the Ferrari, Alonso's odds will only be good if he qualifies well.

Qualifying bets should depend upon the weather. Alonso took pole in the last two race but he admits the Ferrari is currently weaker than his competitors, suggesting Alonso success at qualifying depends on the rain. With the McLaren weak in the rain, Alonso for pole and Schumacher qualifying top 3 are good bets for wet weather qualifying. If, as currently forecast, qualifying is dry then Vettel and Hamilton are usually equally strongest for pole position. Vettel has 9/4 (3.25) from 888sport but Hamilton's odds are better at 47/2 (4.50) from Bet 365.

Image © Rodefeld

Odds above accurate at Friday 27th, 00.40 GMT. Click to see live odds.

Alonso's dominance continues, increasing championship lead further

Race Results
1st
Alonso
2nd
Button
3rd
Raikkonen
4th
Kobayashi
5th
Vettel
6th
Perez
6th
Schumacher
8th
Webber
9th
Hulkenberg
10th
Rosberg
11th
di Resta
12th
Massa
13th
Ricciardo
14th
Vergne
15th
Maldonado
16th
Petrov
17th
Senna
18th
Grosjean
Yet another win for Alonso puts him 34 points clear in the championship. His win at Hockenheim, however, was not dominant: Vettel or Button were never further than a few seconds behind. Had Vettel, Hamilton or Webber been on pole it is difficult to imagine Alonso making a pass but Alonso probably only took pole due to the rain. Alonso looks good for the championship but not yet for regular race victories.

The two most interesting results were Button and Perez. After a run of six terrible races, Button came second after Vettel's penalty and at times looked a contender for victory. There no good reason to believe Button's performance is a one off, so he should be the fifth man in the field contending for victory once again. Perez came an impressive 6th, having started 17th after a five place penalty. Without that penalty he probably would have finished 4th, converting into a podium after Vettel's twenty second penalty and paying off at 32/1 (33.00) from Ladbrokes.

The race was disappointing for Rosberg and Webber but they could have been expected higher up the grid without their gear box penalties. The major disappointment was Grosjean finishing 18th, having never finished below 6th except due to retirement.

Belgium GP race weekend 31st August to 2nd September. Click to see live odds for next race.

Image © nic_r

Alonso takes pole in wet qualifying two races in a row

Qualifying Results
Starting Position
1st
Alonso
2nd
Vettel
3rd
Webber
4th
Schumacher
5th
Hulkenberg
6th
Maldonado
6th
Button
8th
Hamilton
9th
di Resta
10th
Raikkonen
11th
Ricciardo
12th
Perez
13th
Kobayashi
14th
Massa
15th
Grosjean
16th
Senna
17th
Rosberg
18th
Vergne

Saturday saw a very unusual qualifying session, with fastest times in each round being set on a different type of tire. Raikkonen was half a second faster in the dry. Hamilton was second in Q1 and half a second quickest on intermediates in Q2. Unfortunately, the McLaren struggles to get heat into the full wet tires, leaving him in 7th. Alsonso took pole with Vettel in second. This is quite incredible, Alonso went two years without topping qualifying and now took pole twice in a row. This may suggest the Ferrari is improving or could speak of Alonso's skill in the rain.

The big factor is rain. Currently dry weather is predicted. If so, Alonso or Vettel are the only realistic bets, with Hockenheim almost always won from front of the grid. Also, other usual race winners will be held up by Hulkenberg and then have to pass Schumacher, giving the Alonso and Vettel a huge advantage. Vettel may have a number of advantages. At Hockenheim, there is little advantage to starting on either side of the track. Also, one stopping at Hockenheim might be the best strategy, to the disadvantage of Ferrari who struggle with the harder tire. It will be close so live betting might be best. However, with a few advantages and slightly higher odds, Vettel is the better bet. Both drivers have odds of 2.1 (3.00) from StanJames Schumacher would be an outsider bet, usually struggling to keep up with the Red Bull and Ferrari. The Mercedes seems temperamental, such as complete dominance in China and simply falling back from good qualifying in Silverstone. With very high odds of 11/1 (12.00) from 888sport, he might be worth a bet on Hockenheim being a course the Mercedes can deliver pace on.

If it rain then the victory is more open. Alonso seems excellent in the rain so may have an edge over Vettel. Watch Schumacher and Button also, so this may be one for live betting.

Odds above accurate at Sunday 22nd, 00.52 GMT. Click to see live odds.

Image © nic_r

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