Formula One 2
WHO REIGNS IN THE RAIN?
The only guaranteed way to ensure an F1 race is not a procession is for the heavens to open. Driving talent, rather than car performance, comes to the fore in the wet. Get to know which drivers go well in the wet and you could pull off a big-priced shock.
Olivier Panis was 300-1 when he survived a treacherous Monaco Grand Prix in 1996, when only four drivers completed the course, and the chaos that rain can bring is the ideal opportunity to back a big-priced driver to find a way through the field courtesy of multiple pitstops, collisions and cars going off the circuit. Michael Schumacher is known as the Regenmeister for his prowess in the wet while Barrichello, Giancarlo Fisichella, Kimi Raikkonen and Mark Webber are similarly fearless on slippery tracks.
Betting on Formula One qualifying is an ever-changing discipline as the sport's ruling body, the FIA, is constantly tinkering with the format in an attempt to improve the show for TV viewers.
In July 2004, the sport scrapped a plan to replace the stilted one-lap format in favour of two free-for-all sessions, with a driver's aggregate time for the two used to determine grid positions. A return to the traditional 'pure' qualifying where the driver to post the fastest lap at any time in qualifying claims pole position could still happen at any time.
If it does, punters will be delighted to again know that all cars will be running the same fuel load in qualifying again (ie, very little). The 2004 rules force teams to qualify using the fuel they intend to start the race with.
Note that the main qualifying market is now usually called fastest qualifier rather than the traditional pole position. This is due to the possibility of drivers being demoted on the grid from the position their time would otherwise have earned because they changed the engine in their car during race weekend.
The main difference in selecting a driver to back in qualifying as compared to the race is that you can completely ignore reliability. While the likelihood of a temperamental engine giving up the ghost in a cloud of smoke is a major consideration for those betting on a two-hour race, even the most problematic machine should keep going long enough to complete one flying lap.
Bear in mind that some drivers are more adept at qualifying than others. Jarno Trulli, for example, has a reputation for being a great qualifier who can often look lacklustre over a race distance. His Renault team-mate, Fernando Alonso, often plays second fiddle on a Saturday only to storm past his colleague in Sunday's race.
And Mark Webber has dragged the unreliable Jaguar to the front row of the grid at big prices before without getting a blow in over a race distance. Most firms bet win-only on qualifying, although some are beginning to come over to the concept of each-way wagering.
Qualifying match bets, both fixed and spreads, are always worth consideration. Many firms annoyingly pit team-mates against each other, which rules out the prospect of taking advantage of any of the technical issues discussed above. Focus on those matches where the contestants are from different teams and, preferably, on different tyres and you could be in business.
Sunday afternoon is the focus of the weekend but who is really worth backing once the grid order has been decided? Again, the track plays a part in determining how far down the field you should look for a winner. At places like Monaco, overtaking is impossible except off the startline and during pitstops. Take note of the positions past winners of the race have come from. Bear in mind that some cars get off the startline better than others. In 2003 and 2004 Renault were the undoubted masters of the fast start and regularly made up positions before the first corner.
Tyrewear is an important factor over a race distance and check for consistent lap times over long runs in Friday practice, when teams are usually testing out their set-up for the race. Comment on websites and in the press gives immediate feedback on drivers' thoughts about their chances and over time you will learn how to screen out the corporate speak and, by learning their personalities, evaluate the competitors' true opinions of their prospects.