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Massive crash but Button needed no help to win

Race Results
1st
Button
2nd
Vettel
3rd
Raikkonen
4th
Hulkenberg
5th
Massa
6th
Webber
7th
Schumacher
8th
Vergne
9th
Ricciardo
10th
di Resta
11th
Rosberg
12th
Senna
13th
Kobayashi
14th
Petrov
15th
Glock
16th
Pic
17th
Kovalainen
18th
de la Rosa

After such a weak season Button notches up another victory. Although he faced far fewer competitors than normal his pace was incredible and no one could touch him. With quickest times in free practice and in the qualifying sessions, his weekend was more dominant than Hamilton's in Hungary. However, it's difficult to know if Button has genuinely stepped up his game or if he just got the set-up on his McLaren perfect. Regardless, he certainly looks likely to be more of a factor than than he has been mostly this season.

The big upset was Grosjean's crash taking out Hamilton, Alonso, Kobayashi and Perez. Whilst none of these could have challenged Button it would have been extremely interesting to see if they could have matched Raikkonen for pace. Especially disappointing is Sauber not getting a chance to show their potential. Although Kobayashi was slow during the race he probably suffered damage during the crash and they are worth watching for the future as more podiums are likely this season. Vettel and Hulkenberg also had very impressive races, Vettel using his one stop strategy to move ahead of even Raikkonen from 11th and Hulkenberg took his Force India to 4th.

After Alonso's first retirement this year his competitors had a chance to keep up. Button's win moves him closer to putting himself into the hunt for the championship but he is still far away. With Hamilton also retiring and Webber not having a great race Alonso has got off lightly in the championship race. Raikkonen is now a single point behind Webber and 14 in front of Hamilton. Alonso's main concern is Vettel, now 8 points ahead of his team mate and 24 behind Alonso. The margin is still big but Alonso now has an even harder fight on his hands.

Monza race weekend 7th to 9th of September. Click to see live odds for next race.

Image © Evoflash

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.

After a very long wait Hamilton takes another victory.

Race Results
1st
Hamilton
2nd
Raikkonen
3rd
Grosjean
4th
Vettel
5th
Alonso
6th
Button
7th
Senna
8th
Webber
9th
Massa
10th
Rosberg
11th
Hulkenberg
12th
di Resta
13th
Maldonado
14th
Perez
15th
Ricciardo
16th
Vergne
17th
Kovalainen
18th
Kobayashi
It certainly was not one of Hamilton's easier race wins, with the Lotuses looking like they had the pace to challenge for the win throughout the race. The narrow track of the Hungaroring certain helped keep the Lotus's at bay but Hamilton's mature drive may have equally ensured victory. Rather than his usual aggression, Hamilton drove carefully to make the tires last, so much so that he was putting in faster lap times than Raikkonen in the final few laps despite being on older tires. It bodes well for his championship chances if Hamilton can drive with this type of control for the rest of the season.

ButtonLotus had a tremendous race, showing incredible pace and good strategic decisions. They have been close to winning a couple of times this year and Hungary is their closest yet, so a victory this season looks likely. It's worth noting that the Lotus performs better in warm weather and Hungary was the warmest race this year. Success at other hight temperature track is likely but they will not have that pace at every future race. Hopefully from now on both Lotus drivers will join Vettel, Webber, Hamilton, Button and Alonso as the realistic contenders for victory. 2012 looks likely to continue to be the most diverse in F1 history.

Another race has gone and still no one is challenging Alonso's championship lead. Alonso's 5th position finally breaks his incredible run since Valencia of two wins and a 2nd place. However, his closest rivals, the two Red Bulls, finished in similar positions to Alonso. Instead of decreasing his lead, Hungary meant Hamilton and Raikkonen have now almost caught the Red Bull drivers. With four drivers now taking points from one another, the championship looks like Alonso's to lose. His competitor's only hope is that Ferrari is still lacking pace after the summer break.

Image © nic_r

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

Raikkonen
                        2012    
Since 2010
Won
1
1
Pole
0
0
Podium
6
6
Top 6
14
14
Top 10
19
19
Last update: Brazil

Season analysis after Korea

Raikkonen has generally been having an excellent season although seems to have slightly fallen off the pace in the last few races. During the middle of the season he had some strong podiums and strong top 6 finishes. However, in the last four races he has finished in 5th or 6th position. With the Red Bull looking so strong and with the Lotus looking slightly weaker than usual, race wins are very unlikely. Podiums are also probably unlikely unless he qualifies higher than usual.

Since Raikkonen seems relatively weak at qualifying but the Lotus has perhaps the strongest race pace of any car. This means Raikkonen usually has the best odds after qualifying compared to before qualifying. Raikkonen only twice this season finished below the position he qualified in. Raikkonen is also an extremely consistent driver, having scored points in all but one race and finishing top six in almost three quarters of the races so he is good for low odds betting. Also, the Lotus generally improves once a race reaches half way point so the Lotus one to watch for live betting.

Click to see live odds for next race.

 

 

Season analysis after Hungary

Raikkonen is the big unknown of 2012. Three times this season Raikkonen has been close to victory. A win is likely this season but guessing at which race is difficult. His major problem is qualifying, yet to start a race higher than 5th this season so consider for victory if he qualifies top 3. Otherwise, podiums are safer bets, with his four podium positions equalling Vettel and beating Webber and Button.

Raikkonen is sometimes undervalued by the bookies. His weaker qualifying means he often high odds for podiums or top six positions. However, these are good value for money because the Lotus has probably the best race pace of any car, with Raikkonen only once this season finishing below the position he qualified in. Raikkonen is also an extremely consistent driver, having scored points in all but one race and finishing top six in almost two thirds of the races so he is good for low odds betting. Also, the Lotus generally improves once a race reaches half way point so the Lotus one to watch for live betting.

This update is out of date, see update from Korea above for current update.

Image © imnich_H