The first race of the season is where the top teams, namely Mercedes, Ferrari and Red Bull, will try to stamp their authority on the competition with a good run through practice and qualifying before the race. The first two practice sessions get underway on Friday and the final session on Saturday, and bookies are offering match bet odds on team-mates against each other. Lewis Hamilton and Sebastian Vettel are each favoured at 3/10 to beat their team-mates Valtteri Bottas and Kimi Raikkonen who come in at 11/5.
Max Verstappen and Daniel Ricciardo are split at 5/6 against each other, showing the bookies don’t know which one of these team-mates will start the season better off. Ricciardo has had some poor outings in his home Grand Prix, whilst Verstappen went through 2017 with some terrible car issues, so who knows what can happen here?
After taking pole position last year, it’s no surprise to see Hamilton favoured to do the same again at 4/6. The Mercedes blew away all competition as Hamilton and Bottas won all three qualifying sessions between them, with Q3 being won by nearly a quarter of a second. Bottas comes in third favourite for pole at 4/1, whilst the Mercedes team is heavily favoured at 3/10 for either of these two drivers to get on the front.
Vettel comes in second at 100/30 to take pole at the race he eventually won last year despite qualifying in second place. Team-mate Raikkonen follows up behind both Red Bull drivers at 18/1 whilst the odds for either of these two Ferrari drivers to take pole is 5/2. Verstappen and Riccardo each have odds of 10/1 and 14/1 respectively to take pole, whilst Red Bull as a whole are 11/2.
Off from these six drivers the odds get a bit crazy. Fernando Alonso is the next favoured driver to take pole at 100/1, whilst all other drivers are 250, 500 or even 1000/1. That is just a representation of how far ahead the top three teams are over the others after only Mercedes and Ferrari scored pole positions in 2017.
Hamilton is again favoured to win the race at 1/1, whilst Vettel is 100/30 and Verstappen is 11/2. Bottas, Ricciardo and Raikkonen round out the top six at 15/1, 15/1 and 25/1 respectively. Amongst the outsider teams, Alonso and Stoffel Vandoorne from McLaren come in at 66/1 and 200/1 whilst perhaps surprisingly the two Force India drivers of Esteban Ocon and Sergio Perez are both 300/1 to win the race.
Betting on the race winner before practice and qualifying is risky, as you don’t know where the driver will start the race or if their car will even work. That being said, you are likely to get better odds for all the drivers as not even the bookies can tell exactly what is going to happen. To lower your risk, wait until the qualifying sessions are over before betting on the race winner.
Last year only saw 13 cars finish the race after a number of crashes and technical malfunctions that can be expected from the first race of the year. The odds of fewer than 13.5 cars finishing again is 5/2, whilst fewer than 15.5 is 4/9.
2017 was a Mercedes vs Ferrari show, but 2018 is shaping up to be a three-horse race to include Red Bull and hopefully some of the other teams have caught up as well to make the racing more of a spectacle. As always, the first race of the year has the potential to hold the most drama due to not knowing what drivers, cars or teams are capable of until that first test session.
The qualifying is crucial, as was shown throughout last year. You don’t necessarily have to be on pole, but being on the front row is key to getting ahead of everyone else as overtakes at the front of the race have been so scarce. If you decide to wait until after qualifying to bet on your race winner then check the odds of the two drivers on the front. They will have the lowest odds of winning the race but easily the highest chance.
Mercedes are the easy bet for a race-win at 8/13 but Ferrari, at 11/4, might be considered the better choice for the stronger odds compared to their relative chances. For more chances of winning, look towards the odds of a driver finishing in the points for the race. Betting on the drivers of Mercedes, Ferrari and Red Bull here won’t give you good odds at all but looking at the drivers of the smaller teams gives some good opportunities.