Favorites and Outsiders in Formula 1

Over the course of an F1 season, the bookies’ favourites tend to come to the fore. A perfect example of this is Lewis Hamilton’s 2019 Driver’s Championship win, where the Brit finished 87 points ahead of his nearest challenger, Mercedes teammate Valtteri Bottas, in second.

Hamilton was a short 5/6 favourite to win the 2019 Driver’s Championship, but plenty of punters will still have snatched at that price, and if you’re looking to get involved in Formula 1 betting, there are plenty of online providers to choose from.

Despite favourites tending to dominate over the course of an entire season, the very nature of motor racing is incredibly unpredictable and sometimes a Grand Prix will throw up a surprise winner. We’ll take a look at some of those examples below.

Olivier Panis (1996)

The Frenchman’s name very rarely comes up when reminiscing about great Formula 1 drivers and it’s not difficult to see why, given that he only amassed a singular Grand Prix win in his entire professional career.

That single win came in the form of the Monaco GP in 1996 having completed just 75 laps of the Monte Carlo track, due to the two-hour time limit. What made this feat even more impressive is that Panis started at 14th on the grid, with the all-time great Michael Schumacher at pole.

The race saw a lot of retirements and some will use this to explain Panis’ victory, but that won’t bother him, or the Ligier team he was driving for at the time.

Robert Kubica (2008)

The 2008 Canadian Grand Prix at Circuit Gilles-Villenueve saw a turn up for the books as Kubica ended up on the podium to become the first and only Polish driver to win a professional F1 GP. It was also team Sauber’s only ever GP victory, so it will certainly be remembered by those involved.

What made this win even more special is the fairytale-like story behind it. A year previous, at the same track, Kubica was involved in a massive crash, hitting a concrete wall at 180mph.

It’s thought that the Pole was fortunate to come away with his life and even more astonishing was the fact that he walked away relatively unscathed from the incident.

There were clearly no psychological hindrances either, as he went on to dominate the race the following year.

Jenson Button (2009)

As an exception to the rule, we thought that there was no chance we could leave out Jenson Button’s remarkable 2009 season when talking about shock outsider wins in Formula 1.

Prior to the beginning of that season, Button had accumulated a total of just one Grand Prix victory, which came in the form of the 2006 Hungarian GP. The odds reflected Button’s apparent chances, as the Brit was priced up at 80/1 to win the Driver’s Championship that year.

The team he was driving for had also evolved multiple times, with former-Ferrari boss Ross Brawn coming in and changing the team to Brawn GP ahead of the season. All of this likely contributed to Button’s huge price to win the championship, but he and teammate Rubens Barrichello stuck with it.

Thus Button became the first British driver since Damon Hill in 1996 to win the Driver’s Championship, winning eight of the seventeen races that season.