Massa, Ferrari and Sports Betting Fairness
Formula 1 racing is always popular among sports betting fans, but the controversial result in the German Grand Prix last Sunday 25 July has given many people cause to question how fair it is to those who wager on it. The controversy arose after Ferrari sent a barely-coded instruction to Filippe Massa to allow team-mate Fernando Alonso to pass him by and win the Grand Prix. Massa did as instructed, albeit rather more obviously than Ferrari might have liked, and as a result finished the race is second place. This left anyone who had bet on Massa winning the race with a losing bet and a very unhappy outcome…
Some bookmakers were as disappointed by Ferrari’s actions as those who had losing bets, and voluntarily refunded bets on Massa winning the race. Other bookmakers weren’t so kind and viewed the situation as part and parcel of F1 racing, so they allowed the losing bets to stand. Unfortunately for those of us who bet on sports, whether one received a refund or suffered a loss was largely a matter of chance. Perhaps in the future bookmakers will try to attract F1 betting fans by offering a “full refund if cheating occurs” deal.
The word “cheating” might sound harsh, but it is currently against the rules of Formula 1 for any team to order one driver to give way to another. Ferrari argued that Formula 1 is a team sport, and that it was therefore right to make a decision which was in favour of the team rather than a particular driver, but the fact that the rule was broken remains. Ferrari were fined $100,000 for breaking the rule, but when you consider the kind of money that Formula 1 involves, we don’t expect the team to be losing too much sleep over such a modest slap on the wrist.
Some bettors who lost their stake money might wonder if Ferrari itself will refund bets placed on Massa to win the German Grand Prix. Well, we wish anyone who tries for such a refund the very best of luck, but we doubt it will happen. So how can bettors protect themselves from getting stung by a similar incident in the future?
One approach might be to refrain on betting on any team’s “number two” driver to win a specific race. Another would be to forget about Formula 1 as an individual sport and to view it as the “team sport” that Ferrari is so keen to talk about. That might mean betting on one team driver and having a saver bet on the other which would provide just enough to recover the overall outlay, or it could be mean concentrating on markets which involve the teams rather than the drivers – for example, the Team of Winning Driver or Constructors Championship markets.
We hope that steps are taken to ensure that bettors won’t have to risk losing out in this way again, and in the meantime we would encourage all readers to take the recent Massa / Alonso / Ferrari controversy into account when betting on the Hungarian Grand Prix this Sunday 1 August.
Click here to go back to the Sports Betting Tips page.