Bettors Beware: Ferrari is Collapsing

  • Lewis Hamilton is the odds-on favorite to win the USA Grand Prix
  • Are those odds too short? Is Ferrari a value pick?

When the lights go out at the US Grand Prix on Sunday, October 21st, Lewis Hamilton will be the odds-on favorite to win. Some bettors might think that Sebastian Vettel, in the Ferrari, might be a value pick, but they’d almost certainly be wrong.

Formula 1 USA Grand Prix Odds

Odds from Bovada, as of 10/10/2018

Driver Team Odds to Win USA Grand Prix
Lewis Hamilton Mercedes -180
Sebastian Vettel Ferrari +300
Valtteri Bottas Mercedes +700
Kimi Raikkonen Ferrari +1200
Max Verstappen Red Bull +1600

This might surprise you, seeing Hamilton as the odds-on favorite to win. It really shouldn’t. Hamilton has won every USA Grand Prix since the start of the turbo era, and has won six of his last seven races.

Ferrari is Collapsing

To start the year, Ferrari looked to be in great shape. They won the opening two races and led the drivers and constructors championship for a while. Followers of F1 started to breath a sigh of relief in hopes that the long era of Mercedes domination was finally over.

It wasn’t. Ferrari’s last win was at the Belgian Grand Prix, and they’ve only recorded one pole position (Kimi Raikkonen at Monza) and one fastest lap (Vettel at Suzuka) since then. Given the inconsistency that began to creep into Mercedes’s program, you’d expect to see Ferrari score a few wins in the last few races.

The problem with Ferrari is that they don’t just have one problem. Vettel has made some mistakes, the crash at Hockenheim definitely stands out, but so have other drivers. There’s some strife within the team, but that’s the nature of the sport. Ferrari has perhaps fallen afoul of FIA rules with their “cooling bag” and battery sensors, but F1 is all about pushing the rules envelope.

The trouble arises when you have to deal with all these things at once, and while a team as strong as Mercedes is breathing down your neck. Fall a bit behind in the championship, and you have to take more risks and try to score more wins. Then stuff like this happens:

That aggressive move starts to make a lot more sense when you realize that waiting behind Verstappen offers Vettel absolutely no value. He had to roll those dice, and go for that gap, or go home. It just so happens that the gap was in no way “there.”

The one difficulty that does stand out for Ferrari is their loss of qualifying pace after the FIA fitted more sensors to the car. That’s all quite suspicious.

What Does this Mean for Bettors?

It means that the smart thing for Ferrari to do right now is pack the 2018 season up, resign it all to Mercedes, and focus on hitting the ground running in 2019. If they chase Mercedes for the last few races of 2019, however, in full knowledge that they have no chance of winning the title, they could lose ground to Mercedes and even Red Bull in the year to come.

Therefore betting on Ferrari to win anything (except by accident) is a bizarre move. Mercedes’ 2018 car is so far ahead of Ferrari’s that they could likely cease all further development immediately and still win the last four races of the season. All of sudden Hamilton’s -180 to win USA begins to seem… reasonable?

Geoff Johnson

MTS co-founder Geoff Johnson is a lifelong Mets fan, something he can't do anything about. He has a great track record when it comes to wagering on baseball – largely because he's more than willing to bet against the Mets. His career profits are impressive, but not quite as good as his handsome friend Frank Lorenzo. He wishes he hadn't let Frank write his profile.