In our experience, we have found that as a spectator sport, Formula 1 tends to divide opinion. There are those people that find watching the long races something of a chore whereas others are completely fixated on every turn and manoeuvre.
For those that enjoy their motorsports though, Formula 1 is very much seen as the crème de la crème. You will not find faster cars competing anywhere else, nor will you enjoy seeing such an immensely talented crop of drivers. Even for those that do not enjoy the sport, you have to appreciate how much incredible concentration, bravery and skill goes into driving cars at such rapid speeds. When turning drivers can face forces of up to 6G, only a little less than what Apollo 16 faced upon re-entry to the Earth’s atmosphere!
Despite enjoying a cumulative TV audience of 1.9bn in 2019, Formula 1 is not as popular as one might expect with the bookmakers. Some do not even have a separate page for it on their website; instead, they place it within a more general ‘motorsport’ page. While the sport may not have an especially tight relationship with betting though, nearly all bookies do still cover every single race, often providing a range of markets. So, if you do wish to bet on the high-octane action, you have plenty of options as we will explore throughout this Formula 1 betting guide.
Most Popular Bets
Formula 1 is not an all or nothing sport. Drivers still can still collect valuable points even if they do not win a particular race. Theoretically, it is possible to win a championship without winning a single race although this has never happened before, nor would we ever expect to see it happen in future. Nevertheless, winning a race is still always the main objective and it is something all drivers hope to experience at some point in their careers.
In each race, there can only be one winner from the 20 drivers involved although to say it is not a fair fight would be an understatement. In 2020, only five individual drivers tasted victory – the same as in 2019. That said, there are betting markets relating to the race winner that are not simply ‘first to cross the line’. As we will highlight, there are several ways of profiting from the victor of a Grand Prix without simply choosing one driver by name.
Although there are several alternative options, it seems only fitting that we start by looking at the ‘winning driver’ market. This is one of the biggest markets within F1 race betting as almost everyone has their idea about who might win an upcoming Grand Prix. Now, if you are feeling bold, you can back the winning driver before qualification or even before practising has taken place. Most bookmakers release the odds several days if not a week before. By getting in early, you can lock in a price before it changes due to the qualification/practice results. If a driver has a stormer of a qualifying session, we would expect their odds to shorten, at least slightly.
When backing the winner, you can go for a simple ‘win only’ bet which is where the whole of your stake goes on the selected driver to win. This is your standard bet and one that will be accepted by default. However, you will normally have the option of backing a driver as an each way bet. This is where you effectively place two bets, one on the driver to win and one on the driver to finish in the top two. Standard each way terms dictate that the ‘top two’ finish will be paid out at 1/3 odds. So if you backed Sergio Perez £5 each way (a total stake of £10) at betting odds of 9/1 and he finishes second, the win part of the bet would lose but the £5 on a top-two finish would pay out at odds of 3/1, securing £15 profit.
Team of Winning Driver
Now, you will not find big odds available in this market because there are usually no more than two or three credible options for any given race. When having a peek at the odds for the 2021 Austrian Grand Prix, Red Bull and Mercedes were available at 4/9 and 13/8 respectively with third favourites McLaren being priced all the way back at odds of 28/1. Not all races are as uncompetitive as this but much like with the drivers betting, you never have a situation in which most competitors have even a vague shot of success.
An interesting betting market this one and one you will definitely not see for most other sports (though sometimes it appears in tennis or golf tournaments). In Formula 1 though it often works quite well given that countries often have a couple of representatives flying the flag, ensuring this is distinctly different from the standard ‘pick the winner’ market. For the 2021 Styrian Grand Prix, the Brits narrowly led the way at 6/5 (Lewis Hamilton and Lando Norris), with the Dutch 5/4 (Max Verstappen) close behind and then Finnish 8/1 (Valtteri Bottas and Kimi Raikkonen) next in line.
Grid Position of Winner
Again, another slight twist on the standard win only market. Rather than picking a rider by name you are trying to predict where the eventual race winner will begin on the grid. You may wish to bet on this before qualification if, for example, you think that being in pole position is such an advantage for any driver starting there. This is certainly a fair thought on courses such as Monaco where there are limited opportunities to overtake. As of (and including) the 2021 race, eight of the previous 12 Monaco Grand Prix winners started from the front of the grid.
The pre-qualification odds for this market will therefore change slightly depending on the track. They are liable to change, potentially more significantly, following qualification too as you may have a strong rider who is hit with a grid place penalty. For fairly typical odds though you are looking at something like: Pole – 10/11, 2nd – 9/4, 3rd or 4th – 4/1, 5th to 7th – 11/1, 8th to 13th – 30/1, and finally, any other position 125/1.
No need to get your tape measure pressed up against the screen to see if you have a winner in this market, it is purely a matter of time. You will find that most bookmakers offer three different options for a winning margin bet: Under four seconds, between four and eight seconds inclusive and over eight seconds. Four-second margins are the norm because they all each have a similar chance of happening, making it an interesting three-way bet.
This is not an incredibly widespread market and one that is definitely liable to change regularly depending on the season or how things are panning out. But we are including it as it can be an appealing option when available. For the 2021 season, the market usually had two possibilities, either picking the winner without the top four drivers (Hamilton, Verstappen, Perez and Bottas) or picking the winning car without Mercedes or Red Bull.
By removing the outliers at the very top, the betting does become a little more open. For the 2021 Styrian Grand Prix, for example, Leclerc, Norris, Ricciardo, Sainz and Gasly were all priced at odds of no more than 10/1 for the win having removed the top four. You also had four cars – McLaren, Ferrari, Alpha Tauri and Aston Martin – at odds of no longer than 12/1. How both these bets work is that you simply remove the four drivers or two cars from the final standings. Whoever has secured the highest finish without these cars is your victor.
So far all our focus has been on the race winner, in one form or another, but this is not the only position that matters. Drivers further down the running will battle desperately in search of more points and there can be plenty of entertainment to be had along the way. Winning a race is, realistically, out of the question for many drivers that compete but slipping into the top six or top 10 is perfectly doable.
For anyone able to secure a top-three finish, a place on the podium awaits alongside a trophy and a bottle of bubbly (formerly champagne but changed to sparkling wine in 2021). What’s in it for you though? Well, you will get little money back picking the top riders to manage a podium finish but away from the dominant few, decent odds are available. The podium does tend to see a decent amount of variety too so this is one market where taking a risk can pay dividends (with a little luck of course!). In the 2020 season for example, while only five different riders won a race, 13 managed a podium finish.
The other betting option for a podium finish is betting on a team double. In this case, you would pick a team you think will have both riders end up on the podium, no matter if they are 1st and 2nd, 1st and 3rd or 2nd and 3rd.
Top 6 Finish
This is the same thing as before really but this time your selected driver only needs to finish in the top six rather than the top three. Strangely enough, using the 2020 season again as an example, there was only one driver who secured a top-six finish but failed to get himself on the podium (Daniil Kyvat). So, while even the top six is still too ambitious for many, there are still should be anywhere between 12 and 14 competitors who are realistically capable of squeezing into the leading sextet. As with the podium betting, you can do a team double top-six finish at some bookies too.
Anyone who finishes in the top 10 gets points during a Formula 1 race, 25 for the winner while the rider that sneaks in at 10th receives just one. So, when we talk about a ‘points finish’ this is just another way of saying a top 10 finish. In 2020, this was something managed by all but one regular driver (Nicholas Latifi) and one the year before (George Russell). Below we have included a table showing a real-life example (Austrian Grand Prix 2021) of odds for all of the different finishing positions mentioned so you can get a general idea of what you will find.
|Driver||Winner||Podium||Top Six||Top Ten|
It is also worth mentioning that with some bookmakers you can place bets on drivers NOT to finish in the top three or six.
Finishing the Race
Even reaching the finishing line is something of an accomplishment in some races, particularly when conditions are wet and slippery. Even when it is dry though, whether it is a driver error or a fault with the car, there is always a danger someone does not make it to the chequered flag. This is a danger you can bet on too with several markets relating to how much of the circuit a driver will manage to complete.
First Driver/Car to Retire
Every race during the 2020 World Championships, and all but one during 2019, saw at least one driver forced to retire from a race. So, you can be fairly sure that one driver will be forced to drop out at some point. If you are able to guess this driver correctly, good returns are available. Although in the 2021 season, the error-prone Nikita Mazepin was something of an outlier, all other drivers would typically trade at double figures for this market (12/1 to 25/1). To an extent, it is something of a lottery but perhaps a driver has a tendency to crash on a particular course or a particular car was having some issues during qualification.
Speaking of cars, rather than betting on the driver you can also bet on which team will have the first retiree if you wish to double your chances. Obviously, doing so has a significant impact on the odds but you can still get larger than 5/1 for most teams.
To Be Classified
To be officially classified, a driver needs to complete at least 90% of a race (54 laps of a 60 lap race for instance). The 90% requirement is rounded down to the nearest whole number of laps so it can be marginally below 90%. This relates to each driver specifically so it is irrelevant if the race leader has progressed past the 90% point. So, if a driver’s car conks out with two laps to go this means they will still be officially awarded a position as they are considered to have finished. If they were 16 cars left at the time, this means finishing 16th.
You tend to get very short prices within the ‘to be classified’ market. These will tend to start as low as 1/10 for the leading drivers with the most reliable cars and then only drifting to 4/11 for cars at the other end of the scale.
Not to Be Classified
Should a driver be unable to continue for any reason before 90% of the race is complete, they will be considered not classified. In most cases, this is due to mechanical failure or damage, with the result being that they are marked down as retired in the official results. Disqualification also meets the criteria for being non-classified regardless of how much of the race has been completed. Although beyond unlikely, there is also the minuscule possibility that someone still driving can be non-classification (NC) because they have not completed enough laps. This happened in the 1966 Monaco Grand Prix as when the chequered flag was waved, Guy Ligier and Jo Bonnier still had 25 and 27 laps respectively remaining.
Unlike with ‘to be classified’ bets, you can get decent odds across the board with this market. Although it can vary depending on how ‘risky’ the track is and the weather conditions, usually most drivers will find themselves priced at odds of between 2/1 and 6/1.
Number of Classified Drivers
Rather than picking a specific driver to be classified or not, you can bet on there being over or under a specific number. Usually, the specific numbers offered are 15.5, 16.5 and 17.5 so you can choose to go above or below any of these. These numbers are chosen because between two and five drivers falling to complete 90% of the race is a very ordinary occurrence. As such, you will not find very large, nor very skinny odds, within this market.
Every race there is a bonus point up for grabs for the rider that secures the fastest lap, providing they finish in the top 10 overall. This rule was reintroduced in 2019 although it may not necessarily be something we see in years to come as Formula 1 does regularly tinker with the regulations. Even if it is removed though, we would fully expect betting on the fastest lap to continue as it is something that is measured and spoken about during any race.
Fastest Lap (Driver)
This one is nice and simple. All you need to do is successfully predict which driver will record the fastest lap throughout the entire race. For this, it can be a driver who does not secure a top 10 finish as the market is only interested in the fastest time, not who secures the bonus point. You might think that the winner of the race is bound to set the fastest time but this is often not the case. In 2020, only during five of 17 races did the race victor also clock the speediest lap. There was a similar return in 2019 when seven drivers managed this double from 21 tracks.
Fastest Lap (Team)
This is similar to before except that rather than selecting the fastest driver, you just need to select which car (team) sets the fastest lap. As your bet now covers twice as many options, expect your potential returns to be cut in half (very approximately).
Fastest Lap & Win the Race
We mentioned before that more often than not, the driver responsible for setting the fastest lap does not win the race. It does still happen several times each season though and if you have a feeling it might be during the next race, this is a market you may want to consider. By combining the race winner and the fastest lap, you stand to win considerably more than you would with just a straightforward race winner wager.
Qualification & Practice Bets
The most money on Formula 1 betting is placed on markets that relate to the race itself. You are more than welcome to have a flutter earlier in the week though on either a practice session and/or qualification for a race.
Fastest in Practice 1
Ultimately the outcome of practice sessions do not really matter in the grand scheme of things. There are no points up for grabs nor is there any prize for being the fastest. It is not without value though as it provides drivers with precious experience before qualification begins, allowing them to familiarise themselves with the tricks and turns of the track.
It’s a time when driver must be on their best behaviour too as it is possible to incur grid-drop penalties for infringements during practice. Drivers take practising very seriously, so as a result, you can bet on who will register the fastest (valid) time. Just be aware that times will not count if a driver contravenes any rules such as, for example, exceeding track limits.
As stated above, practice sessions can really help give you an idea of who might record the fastest time during qualification. It is certainly not at all rare for those who shine during practice to continue their strong performance when it begins to matter more. It is possible to place fastest qualifier bets before any practice sessions have taken place but doing so does make for a riskier bet. The benefit, however, is that you can lock in a better price for a driver as a strong practice session will likely see the odds shrink.
Fastest Qualification Time & Win the Race
Being the fastest in qualification is definitely a promising sign for any driver before a race. Not only does it show that they can perform extremely well around the course but it also gives them an ideal spot at the front of the pack for the race itself. It is for this reason that the pole position driver ended up winning 10 of 17 races in 2020 and eight of 21 in 2019. If you fancy a driver to pull off this particular double, you can back them to top qualifying and then win the race.
To give you an idea about how adding in an extra ‘win’ requirement impacts the odds, see the table below which we have taken from the 2021 Styrian Grand Prix.
|Driver||Fastest Qualifier||Fastest Qualifier & Win Race||Fastest Qualifier, Fastest Lap & Win Race|
Other Formula 1 Betting
At this stage, we have covered absolutely everything that could be considered a major market for any given Grand Prix. There are a couple of extra options you might still stumble across though so we will now take a quick look at these more miscellaneous markets.
Safety Car Period During Race
The safety car has been a fundamental part of Formula 1 ever since they were officially introduced in 1993 (it had been used very occasionally before this point). You can back it to appear at any time, or not at all, for any race. More recently, F1 has seen the introduction of the virtual safety car which can be used as an alternative to the actual, tangible safety car, in certain situations. Just like with the traditional safety car, you can also place a bet on if the virtual safety car will make an appearance during a race.
First Driver to Pit
There are many reasons why a driver would make an early trip to the pits, whether it be for a drive-through penalty after an infringement at the start of the race, repairing damage or a tactical change of tyres. Although it is hard to have a strong idea of who might swing by the pit lane first, some are a little more likely than others. As a result, for this market, you tend to have all drivers priced anywhere between 10/1 and 20/1.
Outright F1 Betting
There are only two main outright betting markets in Formula 1 and that is the Drivers’ Championship and Constructors’ Championship. Both these markets will open up before the season begins and remain open until the last race (providing a winner has not been determined by this point). For most years, there is really only a small number of viable options for each given the inequality among F1 cars. For the 2021 season, it was really only a choice between Hamilton (8/15) and Verstappen (9/4) as next in the betting was Valtteri Bottas at 14/1. Outsiders such as Mick Schumacher and Nikita Mazepin you could scoop up for 2000/1 but even at that price there was absolutely no appeal.
To make the betting a little more open and interesting, what you may find, at least in some seasons is that bookmakers run ‘betting without’ markets. This would usually exclude any drivers/cars that are much stronger than the rest so Mercedes and Red Bull typically, and possibly Ferrari too depending on the year. By ignoring these cars from the final standings, it does help to create a slightly more competitive market, even if real gulfs in quality remain. It is also ideal if you think there is a car/driver outside of the obvious selections who you think can really impress this season.
When putting these bets on, at most bookmakers you only have the option of doing so as a straight win only bet. A very select few however will accept Drivers’ Championship bets each way, paying two places at 1/3 odds.
F1 Live Betting
With a typical Formula 1 race lasting in the region of 90 minutes, there is plenty of time for bettors to log into their account and place an in-play, or rather in-race, bet. Throughout the course of the race there will be several significant events that have a big impact on several markets whether it is a collision, a driving spinning off or even a superbly executed overtaking manoeuvre. The first lap is particularly well-known for major events and positional changes so even after this stage the odds could well have shifted a long way.
Most bookmakers will give punters access to a range of markets when a race ongoing, typically a selection of those discussed in this very guide. Some bookies may introduce a couple of in-play specific bets but we would not expect to see too many of these. As is always with the case with live betting, timing is absolutely crucial. You need to ensure you get your bets in before a big price drop or before a market shuts completely. Be mindful that the picture on your TV screen comes with a several-second delay so need to be proactive rather than reactive to beat any price shifts. By the time you see a driver spin out, the bookies will already be aware!
Multiple Bets & Accumulators
Placing multiple bets is extremely common across so many different sports, however Formula 1 is one of the exceptions. For a multiple bet to be valid, punters need to bet on several different unrelated events. For Formula 1 though, the nature of having one race at a time means this is not possible. Bookies only ever seem to provide odds for the next upcoming race, meaning you are not able put a combination bet that includes the winner of the Austrian GP, Bahrain GP and Chinese GP, for instance. If you are desperate for such a bet, some bookies do take special requests but betting on multiple future races is certainly not available as standard.
So, if you do wish to place a multiple/accumulator bet, you will be limited to one Formula 1 component as it is not possible to combine different markets from the same race. Therefore, to bulk up the bet, you would need to bet on other sports. It would be possible, for example, to have a bet on Verstappen to win the Canadian Grand Prix by under four seconds, plus Manchester City to beat Chelsea and Roger Federer to beat Novak Djokovic. As long the events are unrelated, you should have the option of placing a multiple bet.
Who Provides the Best F1 Odds?
When it comes to securing the best odds for Formula 1 racing, there is not a leading brand to go with. Having examined a variety of markets, we have found no significant differences among names in terms of the prices they offer. Some, perform marginally better overall but not to an extent that any casual bettor would really notice the difference. For this reason, we would usually recommend you simply stick with the brand, or brands, you like the most.
We say this because if you do end up chasing the odds every race, you will end up registering at about 30 different bookmakers. No one bookmaker will provide the best price for every single driver (or other betting outcome) in a race. Some might provide the best price for a few but even then, this might not be the case for the entire time the market is open. Odds are sensitive to change although much less so for F1 compared to more popular betting sports like football or horse racing. Even if you do not secure the absolute best price possible, often you will only stand to win a few quid less (or even a matter of pennies!).
The only time it is worth your while to ensure you get the very best price is when betting a very large amount. A winning £2 bet on 4/1 odds compared to 7/2 only sees you with an extra £1 profit but if your stake was £100 you would be looking at an extra £50 in your pocket!
You will find that bookies tend to differ more in the number of markets they offer rather than their available odds. As it is not a massively popular betting sport, some sites do not give it too much attention but others ensure their customers have a wide selection of possibilities for every single race. Generally speaking, the bigger names in betting tend to provide the largest number of markets.
Can I Bet While Watching F1 in Person?
Possibly but in most cases probably not. F1 takes place across the world, including in some areas that do not permit online gambling. You will also find that even in places where it is allowed, your particular bookmaker may not able to operate within the jurisdiction. So, just because you have an account registered in the UK, does not mean you can place bets in every country where gambling is legal. Ultimately, this means that there will not be many races where you are actually able to effortlessly place some bets on the action. The only one you can be sure of is the Grand Prix taking place in your home country (assuming gambling is legal).
Even when available though, betting in person while watching Formula 1 does not carry the same benefits as it does with other sports. With the likes of football or rugby, you have the benefit of seeing the entire action all the time, even things the cameras do not pick up. Spectators of Formula 1 races though only get to see a small snippet of the race (other than on TV screens) so there is no advantage to being there in person. As such, we feel it is better to sort any bets you want to place pre-race so you can fully focus on the unique sight that is cars whizzing past at over 200mph. These feats of engineering are simply so fast that even a quick glance at your phone is enough to miss something important!