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Who is favourite for the F1 title?
Who is favourite for the F1 title?
Posted By: James Allen  |  19 Jan 2010   |  11:12 am GMT  |  154 comments

It’s pretty widely accepted now that this is the most exciting F1 season in prospect for a generation. The return of Michael Schumacher and the moves of Fernando Alonso, Jenson Button and Nico Rosberg as well as the potent threat of Sebastian Vettel and Mark Webber at Red Bull, make this the best championship on paper anyone can remember.

F1 insiders are just as excited as F1 fans about the season ahead. It’s still early days yet and we don’t yet know who will have the fastest car, but the bookmakers are already giving odds on who will win the F1 world championship and it’s interesting to take a look at how things stand before the cars hit the track for testing, when things might change quite a bit. There could be some opportunities here.

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They put Lewis Hamilton as favourite at 5/2, with team mate Jenson Button fifth at 7/1. Of course all predictions will be meaningless if the new McLaren tests as badly as last year’s model. I think at this stage though, the odds are probably fair. Hamilton had a great season in 2009 after a disastrous start. He’s matured a lot and is a match for anyone and if the car is right he will be very hard to beat. When the testing starts I will be watching his long runs very carefully to see how he manages the tyres. He will have to change his style a bit this year during races and that adaptability will be the key to his season.

Interestingly Michael Schumacher is joint second favourite at this stage on 4/1, based on his track record and the fact that he is driving for the team which won the world championship. Ross Brawn has said that he feels that once a few races have gone by and he’s settled back into racing, Schumacher can win the title in his first year back. The great man himself has said only that he wants to win it within three years with Mercedes.

The other driver at 4/1 is Fernando Alonso. He said last week that with a move to Ferrari and the adjustment to his new team, he would need three races to get up to speed. Today on the Ferrari website he made an interesting comment about his rivals for this season.

“The ideal would be if my fiercest competitor was Felipe: that would mean that we’re the best team, ” he said. But then he added, “Although I think that McLaren, Red Bull and Mercedes will be very competitive and hard to beat.”

Alonso is keeping expectations in check and he is right to do so, because until the Ferrari hits the track and we can see how it matches up to those three other cars, there is no point talking about championships. What will be crucial for Ferrari when the testing starts will be not just the pace of the car, but the performance over long runs. Ferrari used more fuel than it’s rivals to cover the same distance last season and they have been working hard to improve in that area so that they can carry a lighter load in races without compromising the ballast.

Sebastian Vettel is fourth favourite at 13/2 and this looks like a good bet to me. On paper he and Red Bull should be the team to beat. They finished 2009 the strongest and their car had plenty of scope for development. Vettel has already shown that he can lead from the front and isn’t afraid of anyone. If the car proves to be the class of the field when the testing starts, these odds will shorten a lot. Webber is even better value at 16/1. Consistency will be the key for him.

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Button celebrates his 30th birthday today. His odds at 7/1 reflect the widely held view that he will be overshadowed at McLaren by Hamilton, which is a good position for him to start from as he can prove his doubters wrong. If the front running cars are closely matched speed in qualifying will be critical and Button will need the car to be right to challenge the others, who are more able to drive around problems. Button will be more relaxed in 2010 having achieved his lifetime’s ambition. Now he can drive with passion and enjoy himself and he could spring some surprises. “If I was at Brawn still, I would go into the season positive, but not as positive as I am now,” he said at the weekend.

Massa at 9/1 looks good value too. He’s the great unknown, coming back as he is from injury. His duel with Alonso at Ferrari will be one of the highlights of the season. The difference between their odds is greater than the difference between their likely performance, in my view so at this stage, he might be worth a bet, especially if the Ferrari turns out to be quick.

Similarly Rosberg at 14/1 is hardly a vote of confidence in the young German in comparison with his legendary team mate and especially given the car he’s driving. These are more like odds he would have driving a Williams. Rosberg is 17 years younger than Schumacher and comes to Mercedes full of confidence after a decent season at Williams where he improved a lot, despite a couple of costly mistakes. I don’t see him winning the title, but I think he’s a lot more potent than the odds he’s been given.

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Your very welcome James, both Mike Doodson and Andrew Marriott suggested I take a good look at your website, glad did!


Ah! Great old friends. Thanks.


I’m an ex f1 team owner ,pushing 80, and truly amazed and pleased at the depth and understanding of the complexity of F1 that a good number of your younger bloggers have! I assume the most of the people writing in may have little or no active racing experiance, which makes it even more impressive! This blog and Joe Saward’s seem to attract the most intelligent readers and the most incisive blogs……


Thanks for that


This year it looks more difficult than ever to make predictions. Have McLaren and Ferrari learned how to build cars with DDs? Will the Red Bull become more reliable and not lose speed? How much can Mercedes find after having a car actually meant to fit their engine?

And how close will the field be?

There was hardly anything over a second spliiting the field last season at Spa. Some years ago, some tenths would have meant 4 or 5 positions on the grid, now it lead to being pushed back 4 or 5 rows. If somehow things remains as close as they were, we might end up with the same picture from the second semester last season, the pecking ordered was a new one each race. People could hardly tell who was who from Turkey onwards.

Anyhow, if there was anyone who could have learned a lot last season, that was Hamilton. Provided the car is good enough and he keeps in mind how important it is to not commit mistakes, he’s the title favourite.


To misquote Eddie Irvine ‘betting opinions about are like a**e holes. Everyone has one’. It is my job to advise both bookies and punters as to the best bets in F1 and I am happy to keep my hands in my pockets for now.

My only suggestion at this stage would be to consider that last season was every unusual in that the regulations were massively different from preceding years. There was always the chance that someone would come up with a very clever solution to the changes, and they did. Three teams stole a march by coming up with the double deck diffuser and Red Bull came up with very quick car, despite not having thought of the DDD. Williams and Toyota, with the best will in the world, where never going to be able to win a Championship. One has forgotten how to win and the other hadn’t ever done it. That left Brawn vs. Red Bull, or Brawn vs. Newey, the two smartest cookies on the block, to fight it out.

This season the changes are not so big. The other teams will have learned from Newey’s design and will now all have well worked out DDD’s. The scope to pull a rabbit out of the hat has diminished. Budgets are being squeezed, so the ability to buy the title is not as big as it used to be. Engine designs are frozen and everyone has the same tyres. Refuelling is banned so even the brain power behind clever race strategies will be greatly reduced. It is hard to see who could have an edge at this stage unless you consider people as the most likely thing to make a difference, and people are funny things. They generally don’t like change and thrive in their ‘own’ environment. Effective change takes time.

As such, those teams and drivers that have managed to keep their key personnel in place should have an advantage. Continuity could be the key to finding the winner of this year’s Championship. That suggests that Hamilton, Vettel, Webber and Massa are the most likely contenders for the Drivers, and Red Bull for the Constructors. Webber struggled to handle Vettel last year and Vettel now has his feet under the table. Massa should be OK after his accident, but missing half a season is not ideal and putting up with Alonso will drive him nuts. Hamilton and Vettel will be my favourites, at least until we see any real hints from next month’s testing.


A lot of people are concerned about Ferrari that may not be up to the task of delivering a competitive car. But I hate to tell you my dears, the truth is…. any car can be a dog next season.

Included much hyped Mclaren, Brawn and Red Bull.


Fascinating topic for speculation, but I’ve lost count now of the number of promising seasons in which the promise leaked away once test results were published.

We were lucky last year because Brawn came back to the field over the season, and because McLaren and to a lesser extent Ferrari managed to make up a lot of performance after the half way point.

It’s asking a lot for three teams to have cars capable of winning at round 1. Probably the most realistic hope is that different cars will suit different tracks, which may spread out the wins somewhat.

Of the expected front runners, RBR look good because of the continuity of team members and drivers – the “only” query is whether they’ve built a fast car. Everyone else has some kind of other question mark in addition to the raw car performance –

Massa – his recovery from injury.

Alonso – the move to Ferrari (whose car was clearly very tricky to drive last year), and the potential challenge from Massa

Button – the challenge of a new team, and of competing against Hamilton in the same machinery

Rosberg – stepping up to the big time, and being compared directly against a 7-time champion

Hamilton – new team mate that he is expected to beat, new engineer, change in status of team (from factory to customer)

Schumacher – returning after 3 years out of the sport

It’s almost impossible to predict who will cope best with the challenges, let alone who will have the fastest car.

The biggest unknown is probably Schumacher – 3 years out of the sport is a long time, and the cars have changed quite a bit. However, a great part of his strength has always been that he was not just fast, but outstanding at every other aspect of being a race driver. A great test and setup driver, a great tactician, etc. One of the most impressive things about him was how many points he scored when things weren’t going well. All of those things should still be there, even if there’s a question about outright speed, at least initially. It will be very interesting – and I wouldn’t be surprised if Rosberg is a bit quicker, especially early on, but Michael may have more points at the end of the season.


Aplogies for end of last post.

I meant Good luck to Lewis and Mark.


I can’t believe Vettel is so undervalued! I also see that many people agree with me.

If I were a betting man I would be putting a wad on SV.

He was in the fastest car at the end of last season, they have great technical staff (AN etc.), he has been shown to be a winner, and but for Brawns lightning start to the season, would have been close to winning last year.

Although the Renault seems to be underpowered, it is also the most fuel efficient, which could almost compensate for the lack of power.

SV all the way, but good luck to Vettel and Webber (Go Australia!) too.


Red Bull has had the least upheaval in the off season and they were the strongest in the last half of 2009. I think that bodes well for them at least at the start of 2010.









Kubica (the best of the rest)


Vettel will win.

Goodbye to all!


It is also worth noting another factor in the way bookies calculate odds is the number of people who have already bet on a particular outcome. E.g. if many punters have already bet on Hamilton his odds will shorten, this is done to reduce the risk of bookies loosing out.

This being the UK one would expect Hamilton to be at shorter odds as he is likely to have more fans betting for him.

The odds will also change after a few tests have run. I was chatting to a Brawn engineer recently who described all of the mechanics rushing to ring the bookies following their first test last year !


I have a question to ask James or anyone who watched F1 when no refueling was allowed. Did the cars have significantly different setups for qualifying and the race? if so will it be allowed for 2010?


Yes because it was in the days when you could work on the cars all night between quali and the race and there was a Sunday morning warm up too. Now with parc ferme rules you race the car exactly as it was in quali


Nobody’s mentioning Kobayashi?


Oh come on, they won in Singapore 2008!

Oh wait!


I just get this feeling that Webber will be a surprise, same car as Vettel but less pressure as fewer people are tipping him. Also he has the Aussie “no worries ” temprament on his side.


I’m not so sure about that. The low-key Aussie aspect is there when he’s out of the car, but on race day Webber has always struck me as a bit tightly wound, which I think may contribute to some of his mistakes. I thought the first win last year might relax him a bit, but it didn’t really seem to.

He’s fast, but I’m not sure he has the right temperament to win a tightly contested championship.

That said, if he’s fully recovered from his injuries he should have a much better start to 2010 and is likely to push Vettel.


It could be 4 ways battle, Schumacher , Alonso, Vettel & Hamilton ( depending on car Competitiveness & fuel consumption , spot on strategy team & pit lane crew ). It will end up between Schumacher & Alonso with Schumacher becoming the champion ( specially with Ross Brown on his side & the refuelling ban in place ).

The Old Master Will Reign Again.


Hi James,

If there was one thing missing from the blog last year, it was an element of sticking your neck out and making predictions. I know you have more at stake than most when making such predictions but is there a chance that, perhaps on the eve of the first race or qualifying, that you’ll make your predictions for the season?


I don’t see how you can say that. I predicted Button and Brawn to win before the season started….I also predicted in April that McLaren would win races and fight back..and plenty of others too.


I seem to remember James said that Hamilton might be an outside bet for the championship, which I would definitley say was sticking his neck out!


Apologies, I do read every entry but must have missed that one or forgotten. Good picks, comment retracted!


What are the odds on the FIA fixing the outcome, yet again…

For one year, I hope the FIA just take a back seat and let the drivers and teams battle it out on a fair racing platform…

All these utterly pointless WDC and WCC titles for the likes of Button just degrade F1…

Having missed a number of races before, due to boredom of the FIA intereference, I’m actually looking forward to this season in some hope…

Hopefully the removal of Max Mosely, will be the best thing that happened to F1 in 2010, after Schumacher’s return…


I think it will be Alonso but it wouldn’t surprise me if Hamilton won it again. Losing Raikkonen was a waste take a look at his qualifying lap at Suzuka on the F1 DVD just a pity he couldn’t get his head together for a whole season. It will be interesting to see how Red Bull go particularly if Webber is fully fit. Will be intrigued as to how much additional strength Mercedes will bring to Brawn particularly in relation to developing the car through the year. McLaren pulled off a remarkable coup last year while Brawn didn’t seem able to develop the car as the year went by.


Hi James

This is provisional

1 – FA

2 – SV

3 – LH

4 – MS

5 – JB

I think it may change when we see Ferrari soon.



This is the most open season in a decade; even more unpredictable than last year’s.

1. We have some superb driver-pairings on the grid(I wish Kimi was there as well).

2. We have the emergence of Red Bull and Mercedes GP as the new power houses in F1.

3. We have proven winners in Williams and Renault, teams which I think are poised well for the future.

4. We have Force India with a great engine at its rear and a team well-suited for the new era of F1 as far as costs and efficieny are concerned.

5. We have the return of Cosworth as an engine supplier, another unknown quantity.

6. We have 4 new teams expected to join the grid in Bahrain.

And this list doesn’t include the changes in the technical and sporting regulations.

Even if some of the cars are not as competitive as we might expect them to be, the team-mate competition should still be interesting to watch.


I’ve just put $10 on Webber at 24/1!

That’s value. Hard to imagine how his odds could be so high considering his performance last season despite his injuries and the Red Bull being class of the field in the last few races of 09. I expect him to start very strongly with his usual pre-season preparation.

Quali will be key for him…if he manages to regain his pre-09 season qualifying form he is in with a big chance.

This season is going to be a stormer!


even if i was a multi multi millionaire i couldn’t bring myself to put a quid on nico.


And that could be why you’re not a multimillionaire. Gotta take risks to be successful.


Of course, no one actually knows who will win. One of the new teams might come along and shock everyone. USF1 seem to be shaking the cage, just with the approach they are taking, maybe they might be able to shake the cage on the track too.

Personally I’d like to see Mark Webber win. Last year I think he was easily as fast as Sebastian Vettel, but probably just a bit unlucky, or made a few critical mistakes at times – Japanese Grand Prix for example.


At this early stage you should really only be looking for value in the market rather than guessing who will win !

Vettel and to a lesser extent Massa are the obvious punts at present.

Back Vettel now and then lay him (on Betfair) if the odds drop during testing.Because your potential profit is greater than your liability you will make the difference between the two if he wins. If he loses you get your stake back.

In F1 it’s very easy to make small returns on large bets by backing and laying because the season is long and the odds fluctuate so much.

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