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Is Vettel really such a shoo-in for 2014?

Sebastian Vettel
Sebastian Vettel

It seems that next year’s F1 title race is all but sewn up already. All Sebastian Vettel needs to do is turn up, stay healthy, win most of the Grand Prixes and the title is his once more as he continues his gradual assault on the world record number of seven titles won by his countryman, Michael Schumacher.

But sporting history tells us that nothing ever works like this; and particularly not Formula One. We’re all guilty of focusing far too much on events which are all too recent – i.e. the last season which the Red Bull-Vettel combination completely dominated.

So it is, then, that Sebastian Vettel also completely dominates the betting market for next year’s title race. With most major bookmakers he’s around the even money price or less at the time of writing. With Betfair, the largest betting exchange in the world, Vettel’s odds are slightly better at around 6/5.

And it’s true that, if our lives depended on picking next year’s title winner, we’d all go for the current champion. But that doesn’t mean he’s certain to win it by any means. Sport has a way of showing us that the hot favourites of yesterday are today’s outsiders – after the event. What that “event” may be is anyone’s guess; a new young “wunderkind”, a major technological advance by one of Red Bull’s chasing pack of manufacturer’s teams, an unexpected change of team, the new number two driver at Red Bull Daniel Ricciardo being less content than Mark Webber to play second fiddle – or, heaven forbid, injury.

Further out in the market, for example, McLaren’s Kevin Magnusen is better than 30-1 with Betfair. This seems a big price considering his team’s history. The young Dane is still only 21 and with manufacturer’s continual technological advances – anything is possible and fortunes can turn very quickly.

So yes, Vettel will probably gain his 5th world driver’s title; but there’s surely better betting value elsewhere?

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