The 2014 Formula 1 season heralds sweeping changes to the sport, and the first race was full of surprises, but are there any certainties for gamblers translate into profit? While the rules of the sport have become more complex, the range of betting markets on offer remains refreshingly simple. Key markets are the winner of the drivers and constructors' championships, 'race winner', 'podium finish' and 'fastest lap'. And with one race of the new season under our belts already, there are plenty of trends to track.
Looking at the constructors' championship, Mercedes has raced into pole position as the bookies' favourite after a dominant drive by Nico Rosberg. Ladbrokes Sports' odds of 4/7 are perhaps a little surprising given that Lewis Hamilton's practice performance was not translated into points thanks to engine trouble. And, despite taking the most points in Australia, McLaren are still only rated at 9/1 by Ladbrokes Sports. So now may be a good time to back McLaren, or back another fan favourite to improve - after all, it's early days and anything can happen.
The same is true for the drivers' championship, where favourites Hamilton and Rosberg top the billing at 2/1 and 5/2 respectively, before the field spreads into much longer odds to tempt the speculative among you.
But for those who prefer to build a steady F1 strategy race by race, there are plenty of tactical concerns to consider.
Betting before a practice even begins is a good way to nab top odds. Looking ahead to the Malaysian Grand Prix, Mercedes duo Hamilton and Rosberg are available at 7/4 and 9/4 respectively, but then the odds leap to 12/1 for the rest of the field. That makes picking outside the favourite options an enticing prospect, particularly amid the uncertainty of retirement and disqualification.
To maximise the 'race winner' market, consider hedging your bets with an each-way play, or betting on a podium finish, to reduce your chances of wasting a bet. Button, for example, ended up on the podium in Melbourne, so having a £10 punt on him each-way in Malaysia at 14/1 would see returns of £28 if he replicates the feat.
Of course, top odds come at a cost. At this stage of the season, with relatively little information available, it's risky to make early calls: and that's why more pragmatic punters may prefer to wait until practice begins in order to monitor which drivers and cars are performing well.
Although your instincts may have you jumping straight into the 'race winner' market, practices are much more useful when looking for the fastest lap. It's much easier to predict whether a fast lap can be replicated than the various other twists and turns a race may take. Better still, a driver may win you your bet even if they retire from the race on the day.
One final, and often overlooked, Formula 1 betting market is the 'points finish'. Frequently ignored because of the tiny odds on top drivers, playing this market with more marginal figures from the sport can be a profitable sideline. And some bookies even offer accumulators if you're feeling confident.
To investigate all of your options, visit Ladbrokes Sports today!