Formula 1, IndyCar Betting

While NASCAR still has more auto race betting horsepower, Formula 1 and Indy Car competition, which rev up with their respective season openers Mar. 29 and April 5, each have been gaining speed with wagering wonks, recently.

F-1 racing still is more popular in Europe than the United States but, increasingly, sports betting fans have taken to investing a portion of their cash in the series of high-speed events, the first of which is the Australian Grand Prix in Melbourne.

In fact, not surprisingly, a future book already is up on which driver will claim the world championship this year. The results couldn’t have been tighter last season when Lewis Hamilton edged Felipe Massa, 98-97.

Accordingly, Hamilton, who in 2008 at age 23 became the youngest F-1 champion in history, opened as the 2/1 favorite to capture a second straight crown in 2009. Hamilton, who drives for McLaren Mercedes, won five of 17 Formula 1 races last year.

Interestingly, it is Kimi “Iceman” Raikkonen, not his Ferrari teammate Massa, who is the second choice in futures. Raikkonen, the 2007 world champion when he edged Hamilton and Fernando Alonso by a point, is listed at odds of 7/2 after finishing third in the standings last year. Massa, who collected a circuit leading six trips to the top of the podium last year, is quoted at odds of 4/1.

The aforementioned Alonso, the world champion in 2005 and 2006, won twice last season and opens as the 5/1 fourth choice in futures. Alonso drives for Renault.

Robert Kubica, who broke through with a Formula 1 victory last season, is offered at odds of 8/1. Kubica will be driving for BMW Sauber.

Beyond the top five, it’s double digits on everyone else, including Hamilton teammate Heikki Kovalainen at odds of 18/1, and Kubica wheel mate Nick Heidfeld, at odds of 25/1.

Underscoring that Formula 1 racing is as much about the cars as it is the drivers, there also is a separate future book on which auto maker will win the constructors championship.

Ferrari, with top contenders Raikkonen and Massa at the wheel, opened as the 5/4 favorite to capture a third straight title.

McLaren Mercedes is the 13/8 second choice with BMW Sauber quoted at odds of 7/2. Renault, with Nelson Piquet joining Alonso, is 10/1 to win the 2009 constructors championship.

Not only does NASCAR have to share the wagering garage with Formula 1 racing but also with Indy Racing League (IRL) and more than a dozen other types of machine racing, including World Rally, Speedway World Cup, World Super Bikes and just about any other way a person can move around a course on a motorized vehicle. Most books classify these various sports under the single heading of Motor Racing.

Of these disparate racing factions, only the IRL, which includes the Indianapolis 500 on its 17-race schedule, gets out of first gear against NASCAR and Formula 1.

The Indy Racing League sanctioning body of the Indy Car Series which begins its 2009 season in St. Petersburg, has enough high-profile names to draw interest from a future book.

Scott Dixon, the defending IRL and Indy 500 champion, is the logical favorite at odds of 3/1. Tony Kanaan, who finished third in the IRL standings a year ago, is close behind at odds of 4/1 while Dan Weldon, the fourth place finisher, is listed at odds of 9/2. Helio Castroneves, who finished second in the IRL standings in 2008 but is embroiled in a legal drama, is listed at odds of 5/1.

Danica Patrick, the face of the sport, finished sixth in the standings a year ago and is quoted in the 2009 IRL future book at odds of 15/1.

NASCAR still rules especially in America but both Formula 1 betting and IRL betting quickly are making up ground in the increasingly more competitive field of motor racing betting.