Formula 1: Against The Odds

Sports Personality of the Year

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Two prices – about which Ladbrokes are top-priced amongst the fixed-odds firms – caught my eye this evening:

Jenson Button World Drivers Champion: 1/12
Jenson Button BBC Sports Personality of the Year: Evens

Nobody is going to get rich backing the first price, but it reflects how confident the market now is that Button will be victorious in the championship. The price for Sports Personality is more interesting. Formula One drivers have a good record of winning this award:

1961 Stirling Moss
1973 Jackie Stewart
1992 Nigel Mansell
1994 Damon Hill
1996 Damon Hill

Equally, Lewis Hamilton (2008 and 2009), Graham Hill, Jim Clark and James Hunt have all finished as runners-up.

Stewart, Mansell and Hill (1996) were all reigning world champions. Hill managed to win in 1994 despite losing out to Michael Schumacher. Hamilton’s failure to win the award as champion last year can be attributed to it being an Olympic year, which brings a wider range of sporting success to the public’s attention than is typical.

In 2009 there are no Olympics Games and no World Cup (not that many would expect England to win it anyway). There has been no British winner of the Champions League and with Calzaghe retired, Hatton defeated and Haye injured, no likely marquee boxing success. Andy Murray would have to win Wimbledon (or possibly the US Open) to win this award. Perhaps the biggest moves in the market would come from England regaining the Ashes with a standout performer.

In terms of Formula 1, Button seems to be impressing the BBC commentators with his attitude as well as his driving. Whilst conspiracy theorists would attempt to draw a link between the amount of money that the BBC have spent of F1 rights (not to the universal approval of the general public) with the coverage that they would give Button in the build-up to and during the coverage of this year’s award. This is an argument that is made about the increased profile that the sport now enjoys on the popular BBC Sport website.

At the time of writing, the last price matched about Button winning SPOTY on Betfair was 1.74. You can back the evens with Ladbrokes and lay off the bet for a guaranteed profit on the exchange. The downside of course is tying up money until 13th December with the ROI relatively small. Still, it is risk free and if that is your game then it has to be preferable to the 1/12 for the Drivers’ title.

As it stands, beyond the standard “it’s the car not the driver” argument which hasn’t sufficiently deterred voters in the past, I can’t see any reason not to back Button to win the award at even money.


Written by f1punter

June 7, 2009 at 6:42 pm

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