A little under than 2.5 million people watched the Australian Grand Prix, the 2016 F1 season curtain raiser. While the figure represents a big drop on the previous year, a consequence of Channel 4 taking over F1 from fellow free-to-air terrestrial broadcaster BBC, this is still a meaningful chunk of the UK’s c.64 million people.
Globally 425 million people are known to watch Formula 1 races on television a figure which could possibly be boosted by an additional 40% when taking into account people viewing unaccountably via illegal online streams.
No, its audience is not going to numerically compete with World Cup Soccer but it dwarfs the Superbowl’s 120 million viewers the vast majority of which cannot legally bet on the event anyway.
The biggest question is why online bookmakers haven’t embraced the sport with open arms. After all, research indicates the betting account of a typical Formula 1 fans is worth three times that of a traditionally sourced punter.
Considering eighty percent of the average online bookmaker’s profits come from just twenty percent of their customers, you would imagine the DHL, Allianz and UBS signage would have been torn down long ago and replaced by the likes of Bet365 and Betfair/Paddy Power …the latest conglomerate seeking to take over the online gambling world.
Eurobet.com made a big effort with Formula 1 back in 2001 sponsoring the TWR Arrows Team. But they were ahead of their time. As were Interwetten, the first company to offer online betting in 1997. Their flirtation with F1 came in 2012 when they had a few small stickers on the Lotus cars for a few races.
But ours is not to question. As punters, ours is to take advantage and this is a sport which offers ample betting opportunities within an industry which seemingly employs a limited number of people to recognise statistical techniques when devising their betting markets.
In fact, F1 betting markets ultimately seem to be driven by a good old-fashioned weight of money which pours in on the back of consequences and commentator’s statements.
The consequences include a Ferrari qualifying anywhere near the front of the starting grid at the Italian Grand Prix. The passionate Italian’s always pour their Euro’s on their beloved red cars at prices woefully short of the true probability of them prevailing.
The old nugget which is all-knowing commentators getting their predictions wrong is another factor that always delivers ill-conceived price shifts. Sky Sports’ Martin Brundle is one of the best, more than once his co-commentator has asked which of the leading two cars he would like to be driving (or believed would win) at a pivotal part of the race. The moment his response leaves his lips it is safe to expect a 6/4 shot immediately smashed into 1/2.
Of course, this revolves around in-running markets, which is a real interesting area of F1 punting. In the very best traditions of Betfair be very aware, what is described as live coverage is not live more often than not. There is always a lag, in the UK it ranges between 4sec and 8sec. Overseas broadcasters deliver their pictures with an even greater delay, up to 30sec in some instances.
Of course, there are very few domestic in-play punters that are not aware of this. But the 422.5 million other viewers who may decide to place an in-play race bet at any time are probably not so street-wise. But the bookmakers are often caught unaware as quick-fingered diligent punters can often find an angle courtesy of social media.
Put simply, Twitter is an invaluable information feed which can be used in an identical fashion to stock market traders eagerly awaiting news and trading figures down high-speed news wires.
Case in point: Lewis Hamilton needing a gearbox change following a practice session at the 2012 Chinese Grand Prix. His team announced the component change, which resulted in a mandatory five-place grid penalty, as soon as they were aware of the problem.
But time-zone differences meant the British bookmaking odds compilers were sound asleep when the news the race favourite had been handed a crippling disadvantage was made public …and their betting markets remained unchanged for hours.
Without knowing the first thing about Formula 1 racing, it is very clear there is money to be made using nothing more than common sense. In fact having no interest in or knowledge of F1, or any other sport you bet on, is a huge benefit.
Most punters would be better punters if subconscious preconceived ideas were removed from their psyche. We all have favourite teams, jockey’s, trainers, racecourses etc and we are all guilty of being influenced by those likes (and dislikes). So use every tool in your box when punting on F1. This includes employing an accurate weather forecaster.
As it stands the major firms price up the proceeding F1 race moments after the cars cross the line but that race could be two or three weeks away. The markets normally remain pretty much unchanged until the Tuesday before the race. By that time, you might have just been made aware of a tropical storm which is due to land on the racetrack.
Wet conditions, just like a change in going for a racehorse, can make the form book redundant.