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F1: What odds on Honda and Button racing in 2009?

So, what do the markets think of Honda’s and Jenson Button’s chances of being on the start line in Melbourne in a couple of months’ time?

We started wondering after we got a Google hit on the site a day or two ago from someone pondering exactly the same question. So we decided to take a look.


It’s not an entirely straightforward exercise. For a start, most of the bookmakers only show a limited selection of odds on their websites, although they’d probably quote you on just about anything if you phoned them up.

So it’s not possible to easily get information on the substantive question of whether Honda will make it to Melbourne. But on the related question of entrants to the 2009 drivers’ and constructors’ world championship – well, that’s another matter.

There’s plenty of detail out there and we summarise the following with the usual provisos: odds correct at time of writing only, and conclusions our own informed guesses and no more.

  • According to its website William Hill isn’t offering odds at all on Honda. It lists the nine manufacturers who will definitely be carrying over from next year with Ferrari on better odds than McLaren, BMW ahead of Renault and Red Bull ahead of Toyota.
  • Ladbrokes doesn’t have a market open on the constructors’ championship yet – but it does list Jenson Button in its candidates for the drivers’ title. At silly odds of 80/1, admittedly, but this would seem to indicate some sort of a market for him racing in 2009.
  • Coral has Our Jense on the same odds and but doesn’t include Honda in its constructors’ market – which is a bit paradoxical because it’s a bit hard to work out where else he might be driving. Mind you, it is also quoting such hot title prospects as Bruno Senna, Lucas di Grassi, Romain Grosjean, Takuma Sato and Valentino Liuzzi. Either they really know something the rest of us don’t or it’s proof that there are always fools ready to be parted from money.
  • Victor Chandler has Button on slightly better odds of 66/1 which is roughly where he is usually to be found at the start of a racing season, all set to attract the sentimental money that wants to bet on British drivers. This company isn’t currently offering a market on the constructors’ championship.
  • Sky Bet has Button on the same 66/1 odds as Victor Chandler – and Rubens Barrichello on the same. It also rates the chances of these two drivers considerably more highly than a number of people with confirmed drives – and in a different order of magnitude from several kite-flyers including Davidson, Sato, di Resta and di Grassi. It has no market on the constructors’ title yet.
  • 888.com is decidedly sceptical – listing neither Honda for the constructors’ title nor Button for the drivers’ championship.
  • Sporting Bet is also drivers-only – and doesn’t list Button

So – what conclusions do we draw from this? Ones that are not altogether positive, unfortunately.

The value we spot in all this – from a prediction point of view – is the difference in performance between Button and Honda. There seems to be much more confidence in Button competing in the 2009 championships than there is in Honda doing so.

But with every race seat taken, team and driver are inextricably linked. No Honda means no Button.

Which probably means that the odds being offered on Button are there to soak up the sentimental money – people that are betting on him more in hope than expectation and do it every year regardless.

Definitely a reminder that the bookies are always happiest taking money when they are confident they’ll never have to pay it out again, and not necessarily the best sign of faith in Button’s and Honda’s continuing participation.

In fact, there’s justification for saying that the betting markets have written the team off altogether, and would have done the same with the driver if there wasn’t still some money to be made from the terminally optimistic.

But if you have different thoughts, let us know in the comments.


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