Formula 1 World Championship 2018 – Ante Post Betting Tips & Analysis

The 2018 Formula 1 season is almost upon us and whilst so much can change in this sport from season to season, we are still asking ourselves: can anyone challenge Mercedes’ dominance at the top of both the Drivers’ and Constructors’ Championships?

The Silver Arrows have been the sport’s dominant force for years now and with talk that viewers are being driven away by the lack of competition, there may well be hope yet that Ferrari can mount a serious charge at the top of the grid.

2017 Season Recap

We start however, by looking back at last season and it was once again a case of a Mercedes driver finishing at the top of the pile. The pre-season testing (rather like this year) saw Ferrari go incredibly quickly, with Sebastian Vettel impressing at the track in Barcelona.

Those times posted by Ferrari at testing were no red herring and Vettel set the tone as he secured a victory on the opening day in Melbourne. The German went on to trade blows with Hamilton across the first half of the season and he was still ahead of the Brit after the Monaco Grand Prix, with Vettel putting in a polished performance to finish atop the podium.

In the second half of the season, Hamilton really came to the fore and whilst he maintained his composure, Vettel seemed to crumble. A mixture of poor driver performance and mechanical issues saw the former Red Bull man fall away in the Drivers’ Championship as Hamilton came through to secure his fourth title. Here’s the top ten drivers in the 2017 Championship final standings:

Position Driver Car/Team Retirements Points
1 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes 0 363
2 Sebastian Vettel Ferrari 2 317
3 Valteri Bottas Mercedes 1 305
4 Kimi Raikkonen Ferrari 2 205
5 Daniel Ricciardo Red Bull 6 200
6 Max Verstappen Red Bull 7 168
7 Sergio Perez Force India 1 100
8 Esteban Ocon Force India 1 87
9 Carlos Sainz Renault 8 54
10 Nico Hulkenberg Renault 6 43

Over the course of the season there were a few notable performances; Valtteri Bottas won two Grands Prix, whilst Max Verstappen and Daniel Ricciardo both notched a win each. Hamilton’s Championship victory meant he drew level with Vettel on four titles each, the question is, will either of them be able to taste glory in 2018?

What’s New for 2018?

Formula 1 never stands still and there are a couple of changes to be aware of when watching the new season. Firstly is the new ‘Halo’ addition to the cars themselves. Aimed at reducing the risk of serious injuries to the drivers in the wake of the tragic crash that involved Jules Bianchi, the hardware hasn’t been universally popular with racers like Joylon Palmer describing it as a ‘step too far’.

From outside the car to in now and there has been a big change over at McLaren in the off-season. Having been plagued by issues with Honda engines over the last few years, McLaren have a new engine deal with Renault in place which should increase reliability and improve performance. With former world champion and experienced star Fernando Alonso behind the wheel as well as Stoffel Vandoorne, McLaren are expected to have a better season this year.

In terms of driver changes, Felipe Massa has decided to take up a well-earned retirement and he will be replaced at Williams by Sergey Sirotkin. Torro Rosso have two new drivers at the helm in Pierre Gasly and Brendon Hartley with Daniil Kvyat making way and joining the Mercedes setup. Carlos Sainz left Torro Rosso and joined Renault with F2 champion Charles Leclerc likely to debut for Sauber. The full driver lineup for 2018 is as follows:

  • Mercedes – Lewis Hamilton & Valtteri Bottas
  • Ferrari – Sebastian Vettel & Kimi Raikkonen
  • Red Bull – Daniel Ricciardo & Max Verstappen
  • Force India – Sergio Perez & Esteban Ocon
  • Williams – Lance Stroll & Sergey Sirotkin
  • Renault – Nico Hulkenberg & Carlos Sainz
  • Toro Rosso – Pierre Gasly & Brendon Hartley
  • Haas – Romain Grosjean & Kevin Magnussen
  • McLaren – Fernando Alonso & Stoffel Vandoorne
  • Sauber – Marcus Ericsson & Charles Leclerc

Finally, there have been a few changes to the race calendar as well. The Malaysian Grand Prix is no more for the time being, with the French Grand Prix returning to the sport for the first time since 2008. The German Grand Prix is also back after a one-year hiatus with the Russian Grand Prix set back to September to accommodate the Hockenheimring event.

Drivers Championship: Will Hamilton Win His Fifth Title?

  • Betting Tip – Lewis Hamilton at Evens with Ladbrokes
  • Each Way Tip – Daniel Ricciardo at 9/1 with Ladbrokes

Lewis Hamilton looks well poised to defend his Drivers’ Championship and the British driver could really cement his place in the pantheon of F1 greats with a championship win this season. The British driver has without doubt been in the best car over the last few years and whilst the other constructors have closed the gap a little, he looks like he will have the fastest beast on the grid once again. The British driver, whilst not universally popular, is without doubt one of the modern greats of the sport and has a mental toughness few on the grid can match.

When Nico Rosberg was also on Mercedes’ payroll, there was a real rivalry between the German and Hamilton which at times looked as though it would tear the team apart. However, Valtteri Bottas looks a lot happier with his role as the de facto number two at Mercedes and that should mean that Hamilton gets slightly preferential treatment in races over the season. Those extra few points can be vital over the course of a season, especially if the Ferraris challenge as expected.

Sebastian Vettel is 7/2 with BetVictor to win and is the second favourite in the betting for the Drivers’ Championship. However, for our each way tip, we are opting for Daniel Ricciardo at 9/1 with either BetVictor or Bet365. The Australian was a sensation when he burst on to the grid a couple of seasons ago and he is certainly a talented driver as his performance in Baku showed last year.

The Red Bull car doesn’t look up there with the Ferraris or the Mercedes, but if anyone can eke out extra speed from a car, it is Ricciardo. The Red Bull driver is fiercely competitive and his rivalry with Max Verstappen could drive him on to new heights. With both drivers claiming a first place finish last year, Verstappen is available at 11/2 with Betfair, but he looked a little hot-headed at times last season and the extra experience tips the balance in the favour of the Aussie superstar.

Constructors Championship: Can Mercedes Continue Their Dominance?

  • Betting Tip – Mercedes at 8/13 with Betfair
  • Each Way Tip – Ferrari at 4/1 with Bet365

It may well be an obvious tip, but it is obvious for a reason and that is because Mercedes to win the Constructors Championship is a pretty safe bet. The Silver Arrows have been the best in the business for the last few years now and once again their car looks as though it will be a cut above the rest.

Ferrari had their successes last season and they will no doubt do so again in 2018, but they don’t look as though they will be able to compete with the Mercs over the course of the season. Similarly, the driver ability on the grid for Red Bull will keep them in contention for a couple of Grand Prix events, yet once again, they look a rung below Mercedes on the F1 ladder.

So we come to the each way tip and we would probably lean towards Ferrari given they are available in the market at 4/1, whilst 3/1 is the top price on Red Bull. Sebastian Vettel had a decent couple of days at the test event in Barcelona last week and the talk is that he will have a good season this year. How well he will be backed up by Kimi Raikkonen (who was fastest on the final morning of testing) remains to be seen.

Ferrari looked good over the first half of last season and if they can perform like that over the full course of a season, they should definitely be able to outgun Red Bull and could well mount a serious challenge to Mercedes.