Ahead of the Formula One 2018 season, we have analysed data from every race and qualifying session in the last decade to pick out some interesting patterns that will help your betting.
Every circuit which has featured in at least five of the last 10 seasons has been ranked by how important qualifying is, how the top drivers fare, how close the races are and how many drivers tend to make it to the finish line.
Which courses are the toughest – and easiest – to complete?
Let’s start with something relevant to the opening race of the Formula One 2018 campaign: the Australian Grand Prix. When we rank every course by the proportion of drivers who fail to complete the race, Melbourne comes out on top with more than a third of entrants dropping out.
Given that it is usually the first race of the championship, this could owe as much to rusty or recently-changed teams who are more prone to error as it does to a treacherous layout. Whatever the reason, backing drivers who seem unprepared not to finish the race here – and also in Monaco – will often be a value bet.
We have also identified the circuits which see the highest proportion of drivers making it round in one piece. The Chinese Grand Prix – third in the Formula One 2018 calendar – offers an opportunity to back a high proportion of cars to complete the race, although there are quite a few races where retirements are uncommon.
In which races are qualifying most – and least – important?
There are a few F1 weekends when it really pays to wait for qualifying to finish before backing specific drivers for a podium finish. As even a casual F1 fan will know, Monaco is a notoriously difficult place to overtake and this is reflected in the data, with 80% of drivers who were among the front three on the grid making it onto the podium.
The United States Grand Prix looks a similarly tricky test in terms of overcoming a deficit on the grid, so for both it would be wise to bet in line with the qualifying order.
Conversely there are some races where it makes sense to back an outsider or for a strong driver to recover from a poor qualifying session. Just over half of the front three on the grid at the Canadian Grand Prix have successfully repelled challengers from further back, with the Australian, Belgian and British grands prix also witnessing plenty of drama at the front of the pack.
What about pole position?
Leading the way in qualifying confers an obvious advantage, but it has been far more effective at some circuits than others. The Italian Grand Prix at Monza has seen eight of the last 10 races won by the driver who started in pole, with China and Singapore not far behind with a 70% success rate.
The Bahrain Grand Prix is far less forgiving on the driver who leads the way from the grid. Only two of the last nine races there have seen the fastest driver in qualifying defend their advantage, with Hungaroring also one of the easiest places to catch the leader with only three wins from pole out of 10.
Which races will go down to the wire?
If you want to back a close contest then the races which stand out are the same two we identified earlier as being tough to overtake on, presumably due to challengers becoming bunched up behind the leader. Looking at the average difference in finishing time between first and second place, Monaco and the United States provide the closest races by far with an average winning margin of under five seconds.
Meanwhile Silverstone has often seen comfortable victories, with China and Australia also having an average winning margin in the double digits, so there is yet another potential bet to start the season with.
Which races does the eventual champion usually win?
If you are looking to steal a march in the outright betting, then knowing which circuits tend to be ‘kingmakers’ is potentially useful. In seven of the last 10 seasons, including the last six in a row, the driver who won the Japanese Grand Prix in Suzuka went on to claim the championship, with six out of nine races in Bahrain also ending in victory for the season’s eventual winner.
Conversely, do not pay too much attention to what happens at Hungaroring, where none of the last 10 champions have won, although half of them made the podium. Brazil and Germany have also been tricky circuits for the eventual winner, with only one in five races at either venue ending in triumph for the championship-winning driver.
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