Too predictable? The need for changes in Formula One
Last season we wrote about how bettors strive for methods to predict Grand Prix winners, and found that qualifying could provide a reasonably accurate performance indicator for F1 betting.
A look back at three GP seasons (2009, 2012 & 2013) worth of data shows that despite some exciting races throwing the finishing order into disarray, there was a good correlation between qualifying and final race positions.
A correlation of “1″ would indicate that every driver qualified and finished in the same position, while “0″ indicates that there was no correlation at all.
|Season||Correlation||Number of races that correlated|
The return of Pirelli as the tyre supplier in 2012 was introduced to produce more exciting races to attract fans to the sport. Its initial impact can be seen in the 0.54 correlation compared to 0.61 the season before.
However, with pressure coming from constructors and drivers for more reliability, the 2013 tyres were more durable and therefore created less uncertainty regarding tyre management, resulting in a big 0.67 correlation – a remarkable 84% of races correlated in 2013.
With races returning to predictable affairs – Sebastian Vettel won nine consecutive races, and 52% of drivers starting on pole went on to win – the FIA have reacted by introducing perhaps the biggest and most radical changes in the sports history for 2014.
Potential of unreliability creates opportunity for bettors
Perhaps the biggest change can be seen in the engines; gone are the 2.4-litre V8s – which have been used since 2006 – and in are the 1.6-litre V6 turbos.
After a freeze on engine development, engine power will once again have more of an impact on race performance. The new engines will have a power boost from the ‘hybrid’ technology, known as Ers.
Known as the ‘energy recovery system’ Ers is made up of the Kers system that has been around for a while and a second electric motor. The main difference being last year it was allowed to produce 60kw for up to 6.7 seconds a lap, compared to 150kw for 30 seconds in 2014.
This may sound good, but with such radical changes, is there a price to pay?
The short answer is that no one actually knows? And that includes bookmakers, providing a potential edge for savvy bettors. History suggests that such dramatic changes means reliability will be a major concern, certainly at the start of the season. Red Bull team principal Christian Horner has said he believes failure rates in races could be as high as 50%, while ex-driver Martin Brundle commented “I wouldn’t be surprised if half or more of the field did not finish because of the difficulties in pre-season.”
With such potential for unreliability early on in the 2014 season, bettors have the opportunity to gain a real edge
Don’t let testing skew your thoughts either, as Ferrari technical director Pat Fry explains, “Ensuring cars run reliably will be more difficult at races than at tests because teams cannot work on them for as long. The sheer complexity means it will be challenged, particularly in qualifying and the race.”
With such potential for unreliability early on in the 2014 season, bettors have the opportunity to gain a real edge over the bookmaker if they can gauge what the impact might be.
Rules on fuel brings more reliance on strategy
On top of the new engines, there is now a fuel limit. Drivers will have to complete races on just 100kg of fuel forcing teams to use up to 60% less fuel per race without sacrificing performance compared to last season.
What impact will this have on racing?
According to Red Bull’s chief technical officer Adrian Newey “Fuel consumption will be an overriding concern in most races this year.”
The fuel limitations will put more influence on in-race strategy. Newey stated: “Drivers will have to save fuel through the race which means different driving styles will be employed, compromising lap times to save fuel.”
Therefore drivers will toil with the ideas of going out quickly and then save fuel, or save fuel early and sprint later in the race.
However, It is worth noting the fuel limits are unlikely to have a major effect in qualifying, Newey commented that: “Some engines may perform better in terms of qualifying because fuel consumption is less of an issue than it is in the race.”
This is important for bettors to note, as the changes to fuel usage alone suggest they can no longer assume the race will correlate with qualification. How much fuel a car uses in a race is affected by driving style, car set-up, track conditions and circuit configuration – considering the affect of these more accurately than the bookmaker will give bettors an edge.
Two new race circuits present prospect of an edge
While the 2014 Formula One calendar stays at 19 races for the second successive year, India and Korea have been axed in favour of the long-awaited Russian GP and return to Austria after more than a decade away.
The Austrian Grand Prix represents more familiar territory for the sport with the Red Bull Ring previously staging races when called The A1 Ring from 1997-2003. Despite not hosting F1 since 2003, bettors should look at the circuit characteristics, average overtaking maneuvers and weather patterns, to have a better understanding of what to expect come race weekend.
On the other hand The Russian GP is a mystery and will be held at the newly formed circuit around Sochi’s Winter Olympic Park. With no history or racing data to compare, the track is a complete unknown. Therefore if it’s an unknown to the drivers, teams and bettors, it’s also unknown to the bookmakers – creating an opportunity for bettors to gain an edge.
2014 Formula One: an opportunity to find a betting edge
Despite the dramatic and radical changes brought in to make Formula One less predictable, there is now more of an opportunity to gain an edge over the bookmakers and earn more value for your bets. This uneasy situation for the books will be at its height at the beginning of the season.
Knowledge is key when gaining an edge in betting and with major reliability issues predicted, fuel restrictions and two new race tracks, bookmakers will be less informed as they have been in previous seasons, giving 2014 Formula One bettors the potential to take advantage and make a profit.
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