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Welcome to the 2016 F1 Betting Season: Australian Grand Prix Odds

Image credit: Mark Webber
Image credit: Mark Webber

Another year of F1 racing is set to kick off on 18 through 20 March with the Australian Grand Prix in Melbourne. It’s a new season with new qualifying rules, but the dominant teams lead the odds as they did last year. Only time will tell how it all shapes out on the track, but F1 betting sites are taking real money wagers on the race right now.


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Hopes are high for Lewis Hamilton and the Mercedes team after a successful winter testing programme. Hamilton called his car “absolutely incredible” when referring to the winter tests that consisted of nearly 1300 laps and countless hours of testing and fine-tuning.

As usual, Hamilton enters Australian GP as the favourite to win it all. In fact, the top three finishers last year enter this year as favourites in that same order. Hamilton tops the betting odds closely followed by last year’s runner-up Nico Rosberg and third-place finisher Sebastian Vettel.

Betting on the first race of the year can be a little unsettling as all we’ve had to go on over the past few months are the always-optimistic updates from every racing team. We can look back at the winter testing results all we want, but we will only know for sure how this season might go after we see each team perform in the real world.

Hamilton and Mercedes are the safest but lowest-paying wagers. The Mercedes team had an outstanding 2015 and there is no reason to believe they will suddenly fall off now that they have the winning formula and top drivers in the sport.

It remains to be seen if Ferrari can challenge the Mercedes domination that we saw last season. Hamilton, at least, seems to anticipate fierce competition from the Ferrari team. He recently told reporters that Ferrari finished strong last year and put up some impressive test times during the offseason.

“They did some incredible times at the last test in some of their long runs,” he said. “And I believe they didn’t bring an upgrade to any of the test days, so I imagine they will bring a good package to the first race.”

New Qualifying Format for 2016

The FIA has implemented changes to the qualifying system that will first take effect with the Australian Grand Prix. Honestly, it’s hard for me to tell what kind of impact this will have on betting, but the bookmakers don’t seem too phased with the way they have priced the drivers in advance of the first race of the season.

Qualification will still happen over three qualifying periods running for an hour and take the following format as published by Autosport.

Q1

  • 16 minutes
  • All cars permitted on the track
  • The slowest car will be eliminated after 7 minutes
  • One more car will be eliminated every 90 seconds until there are sixteen cars remaining
  • All drivers may complete a flying lap if they have crossed the line in time
  • Once those laps are completed and classification established, the slowest driver is eliminated to leave 15 cars moving on to the next stage

Q2

  • 15 minutes
  • All remaining cars permitted on the track
  • The slowest car will be eliminated after six minutes
  • One more car is eliminated every 90 seconds until there are nine remaining
  • Drives may complete a flying lap if they have crossed the line in time
  • Once those laps are completed and classification established, the slowest driver is eliminated to leave 8 cards moving on to the next stage

Q3

  • 14 minutes
  • All remaining cars permitted on the track
  • The slowest car will be eliminated after five minutes
  • One more car is eliminated every 90 seconds until two remain
  • Both remaining cards may complete a flying lap if they have crossed the line in time
  • Once those laps have been completed, the final classification is established

This procedure is predicated upon 22 cars being eligible to compete. If 24 cars are eligible, eight will be excluded after Q1 and Q2. If 26 cars are eligible, nine will be excluded after Q1 and Q2. If necessary, the intervals between the sessions and eliminations will be adjusted to ensure Q3 remains unchanged.

2016 F1 Season Futures

18 March marks the beginning of a new season of Forumula One racing, and that means the odds are wide open on both the 2016 Drivers Championship and Constructor Championship. Last year’s winners are looking as strong as ever, but we have a lot of racing to go before we find out who will take the titles this year.

As expected, the Hamilton/Rosberg Mercedes duo lead the odds for the 2016 Drivers Championship betting markets. The matchup is especially intriguing this year as Mercedes chief Toto Wolff plans to loosen the reigns on the competitive duo and just let them race. Back in December, Wolff admitted that his team’s dominance is bad for the sport and even bad for the team:

“Our dominance is bad for Formula One. It is. It makes the racing boring. It becomes predictable how the result is going to be. The sport needs multiple winners. It needs the odd freak result. It needs the underdog to win. The moment you become a dominant force, you suffer and your brand suffers. You become the dark side of the force.”

It is anyone’s guess how this rivalry will play out in 2016, but Wolff seems intent on letting both drivers shine as long as they can keep it on the track. At the end of the day, Wolff says, they still need to work together as a team. Let them fight it out like professional boxers in the ring, and then act like “a sportsman and embrace your enemy.”

Below are the season-long futures for both championships.

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