Formula One Season Presents Challenges, Rewards For Bettors

Formula One racing celebrates its centennial this year, a season that promises to be among the most challenging - but potentially rewarding - for bettors in the 100-year history of the sport. As always, The Greek Sportsbook is offering a variety of wagering options, from future book betting on which driver and which automobile manufacturer will reign supreme over the entire 2006 season, to a series of wagers on each of the campaign's 19 races, including the season-opener at the Bahrain Grand Prix, March 12, to a succession of intriguing propositions.

A trio of rules changes, and what impact they'll have on the drivers and teams, conspire to make this one of the most unpredictable seasons in memory. Since large-scale changes off the track often precede large-scale changes on the track, established teams such as Ferrari, Renault and Mercedes no longer can rely on data they've accumulated under prior regulations. Of course, with uncertainty can come reward, usually in the configuration of higher prices, as oddsmakers and bookmakers, like bettors, struggle to understand the effect of the new rules:

Engine Changes: Reducing engine capacity from 3-litre V10 units to 2.4-litre V8s could increase lap times by two to five of seconds, depending on the specific oval, the racing equivalent of a lifetime for a sport where times are measured down to the thousandth of a second. Drivers rarely attempt to overtake another car at super high speeds because a mere touch of bumpers could launch both cars. The modification, which the F-1 hierarchy insisted was implicated for safety concerns, should result in tighter races and more lead changes, giving traditional also-rans such as Toyota, Williams and Honda a fresh chance at success.

In another rules change for 2006, engines also must last two entire weekends. A premature engine change will result in a 10-grid slot penalty.

Tire Changes: The one-year ban on tire changes has been lifted, meaning bettors now must not only assess cars and drivers, but the capabilities of pit crews.

Teams may use as many as seven sets of tires during a Grand Prix weekend. One consequence of this new rule is that strategy will play a greater role in success with the team that saves a fresh set of rubber for the final pit stop gaining an obvious advantage over a team that is forced to race on worn treads.

The rule change has resulted in Michelin announcing it will pull out of Formula One competition after this season, a decision that can only widen the smiles at rival Bridgestone.

Qualifying Changes: A new three-part qualifying system will be implemented in 2006, replacing the one-lap format utilized last year. You probably need a degree in engineering to understand all the fits and turns of the new system but suffice it to say, any time you give the better drivers three chances to start up front, there's far less of an opportunity for an outsider to start at the top of the grid.

It looks like a tight race for this year's F-1 Drivers Championship with The Greek Sportsbook opening Kimi Raikkonen as the narrow +185 favorite (bet $100 to win $185). Raikkonen finished second in the points standings and matched overall leader Fernando Alonso with seven wins.

Alonso, who will bolt to rival McLaren in 2007, is quoted at odds of +350.

At odds of +250, Michael Schumacher is sandwiched between Raikkonen and Alonso on the futures board. A seven-time world champion and the holder of just about every significant driving record in the sport, Schumacher had a disappointing season for Ferrari last year, notching just one win but finishing third overall in the points standings. After winning 10 races in 2004, Schumacher opened 2005 as an overwhelming 1/2 favorite to win another drivers championship.

Juan Pablo Montoya, +800, who won three races last year, and Jenson Button, +1000, also merit consideration.

Ferrari's reign as constructors champion was ended by Renault last year but the Italian automaker is a +175 favorite to get back that tilt e this season. McLaren is held at odds of +200 with Renault given a +250 chance of repeating.

2006 Formula One Lineup

Fernando Alonso
Giancarlo Fisichella
McLaren Mercedes
Kimi Raikkonen
Juan Pablo Montoya
Michael Schumacher
Felipe Massa
Ralf Schumacher
Jarno Trulli
Mark Webber
Nico Rosberg
Rubens Barrichello
Jenson Button
Red Bull
David Coulthard
Christian Klien
Nick Heidfeld
Jacques Villeneuve
Tiago Monteiro
Christijan Albers
Scuderia Toro Rosso
Vitantonio Liuzzi
Scott Speed
Super Aguri
Takuma Sato
Yuji Ide