Betfair trading or sports betting is often done on most major sports, but often you can find opportunities in nice niches. I spent a bit of time looking at Formula 1 and uncovered a few unusual opportunities. The Monaco Grand Prix was one of the first circuits I studied and it worth a look ahead of its annual return this weekend.

Monaco Grand Prix

The Monaco Grand Prix is one of those iconic races, a big sporting event in itself outside of motorsport. I was lucky enough in a former life to explore this part of the world and a drive around Monaco and a visit to the famous Casino of Monte Carlo was obviously the order of the day! Just a shame they only have virtual horse racing in Monaco! It’s a must-visit place and curious in its layout and institutions including the “prince palace”.

Formula one betting markets

There are quite a few betting markets available for Formula one racing on the Betfair exchange, but the mainstay of the markets are the drivers and constructor championships. The day of race markets are quite liquid but probably not as large as you are used to on conventional betting exchange markets. The main liquidity will be on the ‘win’ market and the ‘podium’ market.

My general Betfair trading strategy for uncertain markets is to work hard at looking for that uncertainty. I’ll try and identify where that could occur and how to profit from it. If you are using trading software like Bet Angel, do some research on staking by liability as that will fix your largest losses when trading a market like this, but give more upside the more uncertainty there is in the market.

In my experience of trading formula one markets on Betfair is that the podium market throws up some decent opportunities. Crashes, mechanical failures and random ‘incidents’ can cause these markets to shift around significantly and many a short price has been defeated in these betting markets.

Formula one can often be perceived as being a bit boring. You could be forgiven for thinking that if you qualify on pole in Monaco you will win and if you are betting in-play then every other driver is a lay bet. The tight street circuit is a big test for anybody who is attempting to overtake, but my stats paint a different picture.

Street vs. Race circuits

Monaco was one of the first circuits I profiled and it was because I expected it to throw off some definable characteristics. But what it taught me was just how different street circuits are to custom race tracks. This is fairly obvious in hindsight! Custom-built circuits provide a very different experience for a driver than a street circuit. Street circuits are narrow and therefore make open-wheeled racing a bit of a challenge. Not only in terms of overtaking but also in terms of avoiding accidents.

When you look at all the circuits, Monaco has about the same retirement rate as other street circuits. But throw in a bit of rain and that number shoots up to well above normal. Where it isn’t as demanding as you would expect is on the mechanics of the car. Monaco ranks quite low for retirement due to a mechanical failure with many other courses above it, but where it ‘excels’ is in accidents where it moves up the grid. Depending on how many years you measure it’s on the podium for most accidents. It’s interesting to see that the rate of retirements has fallen over the years. But not quite as fast as the overall retirement rate. So you can conclude that despite all the improvements in safety and performance, Monaco remains a tricky circuit.

Winners and podiums finishers

So how does this translate into podiums from starting position on the grid? Not as well as you may think!

If you look how often places one to three on the grid go on to get a podium finish, you find Monaco only just scrapes into the top third. But that is somewhat dependant on exactly what you are measuring. Pole position has grabbed a place 68% of the time, second on the grid 63% and third on the grid pulls it off 58% of the time.

But the winner is almost certain to come from those top three qualifiers. A whopping 95% of our sample returned a winner from first to third place on the grid. The front row produced a winner 79% of the time and the only time since 1996 that the winner did not come from that select group was in 1996. Back then Oliver Panis won from 14th on the grid. How did he achieve this remarkable feat? Only four cars finished that year, so the only cars left running by the end of the race were the ones who had successfully avoided the chaos at the front of the field. The culprit, rain. Between the warm-up session and the race, heavy rain fell.

For the longshot to come in at massive odds or to pull off some really profitable trading, pray for rain!

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