How to bet on F1: Outrights, top finishes, head to head and more

Lewis Hamilton and Max Verstappen, the biggest Formula 1 stars, compete for positioning. Photo by Amr Nabil/AP.

Formula 1 is considered by many to be the pinnacle of auto racing.

A truly global phenomenon, F1 sees 10 teams each comprised of a pair of drivers race on 22 iconic circuits around the world.

Last season, Max Verstappen and Red Bull finally put an end to Mercedes' seven-year dominance over the Drivers' Championship (with Lewis Hamilton winning six of those titles).

It's an exciting time for the sport, and with growing appeal led by a burgeoning Netflix series, interest in betting has followed suit. In this guide, we'll break down how you can bet on F1.

How to bet on F1

The F1 season starts in March and runs into the fall, giving bettors plenty of opportunities to get in on the action. Outside of a mid-season break throughout August, there are races at least every second week and sometimes on back-to-back weekends.

Understanding what to bet on once those races begin is key, so we will run through the most popular Formula 1 markets to wager on.

Outrights

Betting outright in F1 is simple — all you have to do is pick who's going to win the race. But keep this in mind: Formula 1 is an interesting sport because there are very few drivers who realistically have a chance at competing for an outright win.

There were only six unique winners during the 2021 season — with just two driving cars that weren’t a Mercedes or Red Bull (Esteban Ocon with Alpine and Daniel Ricciardo with McLaren).

Verstappen won 10 races and Hamilton captured eight, while Sergio Perez and Valtteri Bottas were each victorious once.

More often than not, Verstappen finds himself as the odds-on favourite. Photo by Hassan Ammar/AP.

That means two drivers won 81% of all races. These two are so dominant that there's a betting category where you're able to pick the best finish outside of Hamilton or Verstappen.

Outright betting odds

Ahead of a race, sportsbooks will assign odds to each driver that reflect their probability of winning. Below is an example of what those odds could be set at.

Max Verstappen (Pole) -120
Lewis Hamilton (P2)
+160
Sergio Perez (P4)
+650
Lance Stroll (P8)
+1500

Starting position is immensely important in deciding the odds. The pole position is declared the day prior to the race after a series of time trials known as qualifying. Whoever starts in P1 has a considerably better chance of winning, especially at tracks like Monaco, where there are fewer opportunities to overtake.

If you bet a driver outright before the time trial and they then went on to take pole, you would have gotten them at a substantially better price. For example: If Charles Leclerc was +800 before qualifying, he could move to +200 after attaining the pole position.

That's a difference of $600 on your potential return if you wagered $100.

In the above example, Verstappen at -120 means you would have to wager $120 to make a $100 profit. At -120 odds, the operator would be deeming his probability of winning at greater than 50%.

Don't sweat if you don't like the value presented in the outright market because there are many more ways to bet on F1.

Top finishes

Top finishes are a way of betting the race without having to pick the outright winner. You can bet on drivers to make the podium (top 3), finish top 5, or finish in the points (top 10).

Once again, being aware of a driver's qualifying position is important.

Hamilton and Verstappen would be considered favourites to make the podium, with odds of around -300. There’s lots of value to be found outside of those two, though, as 13 different drivers made the podium in 2021.

Lando Norris or Pierre Gasly could sit at +400 or more, meaning a $100 bet could net you $400 of profit if they finished in third place or better.

Finishing 10th may seem mundane to the uninitiated viewer, but that is the spot where teams begin to rack up points for the Constructors' Championship.

Teams such as Williams, Aston Martin, and Alfa Romeo are constantly fighting to get in the top 10 for points.

How to bet on F1 props

There are a number of ways to bet on F1 props. You can bet on how many yellow flags there will be, how many cars will retire, or who will retire first.

Some props, such as retired cars or flags, would be presented as an over/under bet. That means you would have to choose one side of the bet.

An example would be betting on whether the total number of retired cars went over or under a certain number set by the sportsbook. We'll say it's 2.5. That means if three cars failed to finish the race, the over would win. If two cars or fewer retired, the under would cash. The over and under would each be assigned odds.

Another prop bet example is choosing the driver who finishes with the fastest lap. Additionally, you can wager on the nationality of the winning driver.

The odds for that could look something like this:

British (-150)
Dutch
(+170)
Spanish
(+1500)
Canadian
(+15000)

Hamilton, Norris and George Russell are all British. Verstappen, the only Dutch driver, is so skilled that he would still be an odds-on favourite in this prop category.

Canada, meanwhile, has two drivers in Nicholas Latifi and Stroll. Neither of them regularly compete for wins, which is why they would be long shots here.

How to bet on F1 futures

Futures betting lets you wager on who will win races... in the future. And no, DeLorean doesn't have an F1 team.

The most popular futures bet in F1 is who will win the World Championship. Drivers are awarded points based on finishing position each race. Whoever amasses the most by the end of the year is crowned champion.

Verstappen and Hamilton will typically be the favourites in this category.

If Verstappen were to win the first two races, you could probably find good value on a Hamilton Drivers' Champion future.

The kings of F1, Lewis Hamilton (left) and Max Verstappen (right) celebrate after podium finishes. Photo by Francois Mori/AP.

You can also make a futures bet on who will win the Constructors' Championship. This follows the same point system but is for teams rather than drivers.

For example, Red Bull and Mercedes (which has won the last eight Constructors' Championships) would likely sit at around +110 each. Ferrari and McLaren would be further back at around +1000.

You can place futures bets on individuals as well, such as whether a particular driver will win a race during the season. It wouldn't make much sense to place this bet on Hamilton because the odds wouldn't lead to a strong payout. That's because his probability of winning would be so high.

But you would be able to find solid value for other drivers that are down a tier from the favourites.

Head to head

Head-to-head betting in F1 pits two drivers against each other and gives corresponding odds based on their implied probability of winning.

Odds are determined by starting position, weather conditions and car form.

Let's use Norris and Leclerc as an example and assume they are p5 and p6 to start the race — relatively even positions. For our purposes, we'll say Norris is a slight -130 favourite while Leclerc is a +140 underdog.

The driver who finishes the race in a higher spot wins the bet. If that was Leclerc at +140, a $100 bet on him would net a $140 profit.

Note: A driver would automatically win, provided they finished the race, if the other was forced to retire.

Live betting on F1

Live betting provides an opportunity to bet on a race once it has already started. The live betting markets in F1 are typically outrights and podium finish.

Odds can change drastically during the race. For example, let's assume Verstappen has the pole position and is -120 to win prior to the race starting. If he were to get passed by three cars on the first lap, his live odds would lengthen — perhaps to around +230.

Both Verstappen and Hamilton were forced to retire at last season's Italian Grand Prix, making the race a wide-open contest. This would be an opportunity to try to live bet an outright. Drivers who typically wouldn't find themselves in positions to win would now have a chance.

Ricciardo ended up winning, with Norris and Bottas rounding out the podium.

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