Where to Bet Formula 1 Online
As an international sport, almost every online bookmaker offers some variety of F1 betting options. However, the betting options that are offered can vary greatly from one book to another. Some only offer odds on outright race winners, while others offer matchup bets, top-3, top-6, props, and futures. Others offer live betting for Formula 1 races as well.
When I start to compare odds for an upcoming race, I generally start at Bet365 and Ladbrokes. These sites probably have the widest selection of F1 betting options, plus a lot of fun props. They also keep their World Drivers Championship and World Constructors Championship futures open very late into the season. At both of these books, odds on outright winners for the upcoming race typically get posted on Monday night or early Tuesday after a Sunday race. Props, matchups, and other bets usually get posted a day or two later. With two weeks between most F1 races, Bet365 and Ladbrokes have most of their betting options open for about 7 – 10 days before a race.
Betting on Outright Race Winners
Outright winner bets are the most common F1 wagers that are made, where punters simply choose who they think will win the race. When there’s a big favourite in the race, odds tend to be in the 5-6 to 3/2 range for the favourite. Odds for other top-5 drivers tend to be in the range of 5/2 – 20/1. Early in the season when less is known about each driver/car, odds are generally tighter for the top 3 drivers.
For casual punters who just want a place to bet on F1, I recommend Bet365.com. As mentioned above, they have a wide selection of betting options, and lots of fun prop bets. For those who do a lot of research and want to make consistent profits, it’s important to find the best odds for every bet you make. Since every betting site that offers F1 also offers outright winner bets, I recommend opening accounts at several of the top online bookmakers. My favourite sites are Bet365, Ladbrokes, Bodog, and Bookmaker.com.
- Betting before qualifying essentially means that you’re betting on the qualifying itself. Before qualifying, we have less to gain and more to lose when betting on a big favourite. This is because highly favoured drivers already have low odds before qualifying. Even if the favourite qualifies on the pole, his odds generally won’t go much lower (because he qualified where he was expected to). However, if he qualifies lower than expected, his odds can become much greater – but you’re stuck with low odds on a driver who is no longer favoured to win.
- The opposite is true for other top-5 drivers. When betting before qualifying on the 2nd-5th favoured drivers, there is more upside potential than downside. If they move up the grid, their odds will usually go down considerably, but if they qualify near where they were expected to, their odds won’t change as much. Of course, you still have to pick the eventual winner of the race, so you can’t select a random driver simply because you can get good odds on him.
- Betting after qualifying is more predictable and less risky, but can offer less value than betting pre-qualifying.
F1 Matchup Bets
In F1, matchup bets are generally offered in two forms. One type of matchup bet is called head-to-head, where punters have to pick which of two drivers will have the highest finish in a race. The other is a standard matchup bet where cappers choose between 3+ drivers. Matchup bets are very popular, and most of the top F1 betting sites offer them for every race of the season.
Head-to-Head Matchup Bets
As mentioned above, head-to-head matchups pit two drivers against each other, and the bettors job is to select the driver who will have the best finish. To make these bets as competitive as possible, bookmakers generally pit drivers that are the closest matches after qualifying.
Bookmaker.com has the best selection of head-to-head matchups. Bet365 usually offers head-to-head matchups as well, but not for every race. BetFair offers an interesting twist on head-to-head matchups where two drivers are pitted against each other for the highest finish in the World Drivers Championship.
Multiple Driver Matchup Bets (Speed Row Bets)
The other type of matchup bet (also called Speed Row) is a wager where punters are choosing the highest finisher in a group of multiple drivers (3-8). These bets are generally offered once qualifying has been completed.
Bet365 usually offers a few multiple-drvier matchup bets for each race, but they miss a few. Bookmaker.com runs some of these types of matchups as well.
*Matchup Betting Tip: Don’t bet on matchups that include the top 5-6 drivers in a race. The eventual winner of the race is almost certain to come out of this group anyway, so when you choose a driver in this matchup, you’re essentially picking the race winner. The problem is, in this type of matchup bet you’re eliminating drivers who don’t need to be eliminated anyway, which means you’ll get lower odds than you will on an outright winner bet. Instead of placing this matchup, place the outright winner bet on the same driver, and take advantage of the greater odds.
Formula 1 Podium Finisher Bets (Top 3)
Podium finisher bets (also called Top3 bets) are a bit easier to find than matchups. They’re simple bets where punters choose a driver or drivers that will finish in the top 3. These can be easy bets to win, especially on circuits where it’s difficult to overtake.
In most seasons, only a handful of drivers get podium finishes, and they usually come from the top six starting positions. With such a good chance of winning these bets, of course the odds are usually fairly low. Often times, the best odds you’ll get on any of the top 3 qualifiers will be in the 1/3 range, making it close to impossible to make consistent profits on these bets. Since this is the case, it’s often better to find another driver, maybe the 4th or 5th qualifiers offering something like 5/2 or 4/1 odds. This isn’t recommended on circuits where overtaking is difficult, but it is on circuits where passing is easier.
Bet365, Bookmaker, Ladbrokes, 5Dimes, and Betfair offer podium finisher bets for every race of the season. Bet365 and Ladbrokes get a lot of action for these bets, so their odds tend to see more movement than the other sites.
There are a couple other types of podium finisher bets that can be made as well. Bet365 offers a ‘Combination Podium Finish’ where two drivers are pre-selected, and the punter makes a yes/no decision on both drivers finishing on the podium. Ladbrokes offers another type of podium bet called a ‘Double Podium Finish’ where punters can select a constructor to have two cars on the podium.
Top 6 Bets
In Top 6 bets, a punters chosen driver just needs to finish in the top 6 finishing positions in a race. Odds tend to range from 1/8 for the race favourite, to the 1/3 neighborhood for the 6th-place qualifier. The odds for Top 6 bets are much better than Top 3 bets, but there’s a reason for it. Drivers who start in front generally separate themselves from the pack fairly quickly, making them less likely to get involved in crashes or other potential messes. So, the race for 4th-6th place is much more competitive than the race for the top 3 spots, making it more unpredictable.
Bet365, Ladbrokes and BetFair offer Top 6 bets for every race. Always compare odds before placing your bets.
Winning Margin Bets
Winning margin bets are based on the difference in time from the first and second place finishers in a race. They’re sometimes offered differently at different bookmakers, meaning this is a bet that requires punters to shop around and see what’s available. At one book you may only find an over/under bet on a single time.
Other books may offer odds like this:
Under 5 seconds: 7/4
Between 5-10 seconds inclusive: 15/8
Over 10 seconds: 6/4
Before betting on a winning margin, always check the stats from previous years. It also helps to know about the circuit that is being raced on, and seeing what changes might’ve been made over recent years. If significant changes have been made to a circuit, then appropriate adjustments need to be assumed for the potential winning margin.
I prefer Bet365 and BetFair for winning margin bets because they offer them in the fashion shown above. However, I never place a winning margin bet without checking what Ladbrokes is offering. They usually offer over/under bets on a single time, and it isn’t uncommon to see their times tighter than historical stats.
For example, when you remove the dominant win by Lewis Hamilton at the 2008 British Grand Prix, the average winning margin for the past 10 seasons has been over 10 seconds (higher if you include 2008). However, for the 2011 British Grand Prix, Ladbrokes offered 11/10 on ‘over 7.5 seconds’, when history tells us this bet should be in closer to ‘over 10 seconds’ at 10/11. Part of the reason for this is because fans tend to think races will be closer than they actually are. For those that do their research, value can be found in winning margin bets.
F1 Prop Betting
Prop bets are wagers that don’t fit into any of the standard betting categories listed above. They tend to be based on individual events that might occur during a race, usually more luck-based than anything. These are fun bets for casual punters, but serious bettors need to discriminate.
Common F1 Prop Bets:
- Which driver will record the fastest lap during the race?
- Which constructor will win the race?
- Which driver will lead the first lap of the race?
- Which driver will be the first to retire?
- Who will be the first driver to make a pit stop?
World Drivers Championship Futures Bets
Futures bets are wagers based on seasonal results. In F1, there are two futures bets that are most common. The most popular of these two is the World Drivers Championship (WDC), which is given to the driver who accumulates the most points during a season.
Many online bookmakers start posting their World Drivers Championship futures odds just days or weeks after the prior season has ended. A few others wait until the new season is soon to begin. There’s risk and reward offered by placing your F1 futures bets early versus waiting until the season begins.
When a season has just ended, we don’t know what rules changes FIA might employ for the next season. We also don’t know what changes each constructor will make, and how those changes will affect their cars. Even small changes during the off-season can have dramatic results on the next season, so punters are rolling the dice, hoping they’ve guessed right.
If you’re betting early, before changes are known, it’s smarter to bet on drivers who are on teams other than the one who just won the Constructors Championship. This is for a few reasons. First, FIA attempts to make the racing competitive by making rule changes during the off-season. If they’re successful, the team that should be hurt the most by this is the team who just won. Secondly, the odds for the team who just won will generally be the lowest, and likely become greater as rule changes become public.
As the new season is about to begin, the F1 futures odds should be a better reflection of a drivers real chances to win the WDC. Closer to the start of a season, teams & drivers have accumulated a lot of practice time, revealing a lot of information about how they might do.
For early futures bets, I prefer Bet365 and Ladbrokes. For late bets, I also compare odds at Bodog, Bookmaker, and 5Dimes. Bodog is usually the slowest to post their F1 futures, but unique prices can often be found.
In seasons where a single driver is dominating, like Sebastian Vettel in 2011, I head to Bet365, Ladbrokes, and Betfair. They offer a World Drivers Championship futures bet where the top driver is taken out of the equation. So, you’re betting on who will come in second, often a more competitive bet. This gives us a chance to make up for a loss on our pre-seasonal DWC bet, or win a second bet if we already chose Vettel. It also gives us something fun to follow for the remainder of the season.
World Constructors Championship Futures
The World Constructors Championship (WCC) is the other popular F1 futures bet. Instead of betting on a driver, punters are betting on engine/car combinations. For example, Red Bull Racing Renault, McLaren-Mercedes, Ferrari, Renault, Mercedes, Sauber-Ferrari, STR-Ferrari, Force India-Mercedes, and Lotus-Renault are some of the constructors.
Since the World Constructors Championship includes both drivers on a team, it’s possible that the winner of the WDC won’t be driving the car that won the WCC. While that’s possible, the constructor of the World Drivers Championship car is usually the winner of the World Constructors Championship as well. If you’re betting on the World Drivers Championship, you should also bet on his car to win the World Constructors Championship. If you’re betting on competing teams, you’re essentially betting on who will win the World Drivers Championship, then a competing team to take 2nd and 3rd place in the WDC, with the teammate of the WDC winner finishing 4th or worse. If you’re doing this, you’re trying to predict way too much.
Same as betting on the WDC, I like Bet365 and Ladbrokes for early WCC futures. Closer to the start of the season, I also check the odds at Bookmaker, Bodog, and 5Dimes.
F1 Betting Tips
For F1 outright winner bets, the biggest odds changes come as a result of qualifying, not timing and betting trends. When you bet before qualifying, you’re looking for an opportunity to gain an odds advantage. Pre-qualifying, the favourite generally offers more downside than up, so we’re looking to pick a driver who we think can win the race, and qualify better than expected. When we’re right, we lock in greater odds.
F1 is not like NASCAR where it’s fairly common to see a driver low on the starting grid come up and win. In F1, top qualifiers have a huge advantage. First, they get into less traffic, which means they’re less likely to get involved in a crash. Second, F1 circuits are much harder to pass on than ovals, so drivers at the top tend to stay there. Winners almost always come from the top-5 starting positions.