Sebastian Vettel and Lewis Hamilton are heading to the Spanish Grand Prix in Barcelona as bookies' favourites for the race, but the pair are both showing signs of vulnerability. Hot on their heels are two in-form drivers who both deserve to see the chequered flag in the near future – and both are driving well enough to make significant each-away appeal at value prices.
The 2018 Grand Prix Drivers Championship table is looking predictable for Formula 1 betting fans, headed by Hamilton on 70 points and Vettel hot on his heels with 66. Hamilton only has one very fortunate win in Azerbaijan in the bank, but he has consistently made three out of four podium finishes.
As for Vettel, he's shown his class by winning two of the four openers (Australia and Bahrain), but his hot-headedness has been a cause for concern. On the plus side, both drivers have decent history in Barcelona; Hamilton has displayed a particular aptitude for the venue, having won there twice in 2014 and 2017.
Vettel for his part, has a victory there from 2011 and finished second to Hamilton in 2017, so both drivers are fully capable of handling the Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya. However, with odds of 6/4 for Vettel and 13/8 for Hamilton at top online f1 sites, neither makes strong appeal as banker bets. Hamilton was extremely lucky to win in Azerbaijan, with the flat tyre of team mate Valtteri Bottas handing him the race.
Given his groans about his car, questions over his Mercedes future and the fact that the win was his first in seven GP races, his odds don't look value (inclusive of 2017, Hamilton had not tasted victory in Mexico, Brazil, Abu Dhabi, Australia, Bahrain or China). As for Vettel, he's banked three pole positions in a row, his poor race consistency doesn't make backing him to win very appealing, either.
With Hamilton and Vettel eating up most of the betting market, there's potential to take them on with value in the shape of Kimi Raikkonen and Bottas, two drivers showing consistent form on the podium.
Backers have already been rewarded several times this season in the each-way and podium finish markets, with good reason to think there's more to come. Bookmakers have laid Raikkonen successfully in the win market for some time, given he last saw the chequered flag at the 2013 Australian Grand Prix.
However, after a solid 2017 season, the Finn is looking a reliable podium performer. Indeed, aside from a retirement in Bahrain, Raikkonen has finishing figures of 3-3-2. The driver's consistency means he's third in the
Bottas, sitting on 40 points in fourth, is displaying similar form, having hit the podium twice this season and being a very unfortunate loser (and non-placer) in Azerbaijan. The pair are the only drivers, aside from Hamilton and Vettel, to have finished in the top three more than once during the 2018 season to date:
Bottas is backable at 9/1 with Unibet and he looks primed for a big race in Barcelona, making real each-way appeal. The Finnish driver literally had victory taken from him on lap 49 of 51 when his punctured tyre handed Hamilton the race.
He'd shown great speed and tyre management in the conditions up until then. The end result was cruel, robbing him of a podium finish. The Finn won three F1 races in 2017 and looks value to add another in Barcelona.
The punting question surrounding Raikkonen is whether he can finally win a race again after such a long wait. He does rank well at the Spanish race track, having won there in 2005 and 2008 – something only Lewis Hamilton can match among the current crop of F1 drivers. The Finn retired in last year's race but finished a gallant second in 2016.
Given that bookmakers continue to offer 10/1 plus for Raikkonen from race to race, despite his creditable performances, makes him a value each-way bet for the Spanish Grand Prix. Seasonal stats give him a strong chance of giving a profit on a podium finish and, with neither Hamilton or Vettel truly looking invincible, the Finn might just fly high again in Barcelona.
As we head into race five of the 2018 Grand Prix season, there is uncertainty surrounding both Hamilton and Vettel and, at short odds, neither jump out as certainties. They're worth taking on by dutch betting Valtteri Bottas at 9/1 and Kimi Raikkonen 10/1 each-way with William Hill.