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Pole position in F1 – how much greater is the chance of winning?

April 18, 2023

Starting from pole position, Max Verstappen won the Australian Grand Prix on April 2. How important this starting position is to an eventual win is a hotly debated topic within Formula One. We’ve gathered the numbers for you to make a statement about odds from the pole position and how money is made from speculating on it.

Starting positions in Formula 1

As you probably already know, there are twenty starting positions to be distributed at a Formula One race. Which position you start in as a driver, very much determines your chances of winning. After all, at the back you have 19 cars to overtake to finish first, an almost impossible task. Therefore, the front starting position (pole position) is most sought after.

To secure a spot on the pole position, there are qualifying and/or sprint races. The better you perform as a driver during these races, the better your starting position will be. Yet these races are not the only things that determine the starting position. For example, there are technical grid penalties that can negatively affect your starting position as a driver. For example, if you have to replace a gearbox, exhaust, turbocharger or engine too often, you can move down as many as 10 spots in the starting lineup.

Penalty points can also be handed out for improper driving during races. If a driver does not follow the driving rules, time penalties such as a longer pit stop may be imposed.     

Win probability of pole position

That starting in pole position significantly increases the chances of winning is evidenced by the statistics of today’s drivers on the number of wins from pole position.

The win percentages from the pole position for each driver are as follows:

– Max Verstappen (77.27%)

– Fernando Alonso (63.64%)

– Lewis Hamilton (59.22%)

– Sergio Perez (50.00%)

– Carlos Sainz (33.33%)

– Valtteri Bottas (30.00%)

– Charles Leclerc (22.22%)

Taking the average of this, we arrive at a profit percentage of: (77.27 + 63.64 + 59.22 + 50.00 + 33.33 + 30.00 + 22.22 / 7) = 47.95%

If you as a driver start on the pole position you are therefore almost half sure that you will win the race.

Of course, these results are due not only to the starting position but also to the individual quality of the drivers. Top drivers Max Verstappen, Fernando Alonso and Lewis Hamilton have an above-average chance of winning a race from the first starting position, with over 77%, 63% and 59%, respectively.

Speculating on profits

As with all sports, commercial interests are present within Formula One. Money is made from everything, including speculating on the outcome of races.

A number of races precede the determination of drivers’ starting positions. These often begin with practice rides followed by qualifying races. The result of the qualifying race determines which starting position each driver gets at the Grand Prix. The winner of qualifying will be awarded the pole position; the remaining spots will be distributed according to performance.

Even on practice runs, sports bettors are enthralled, according to sports betting experts at Bettingbonus Netherlands. In this, the form of each driver often becomes clear already which gives an indication of the chances during the qualifying race. Knowing that pole position significantly increases the odds of winning, placing a bet based on it is less risky.

If Max Verstappen has a strong practice run, for example, there is a good chance he will qualify for one of the top positions on the grid during the qualifying race. Knowing that Max has an average chance of about 77% to win a race from pole position, the betting is attractive to bet on Verstappen.

Because bookmakers’ odds sometimes do not adjust quickly enough, there is an opportunity just before the end of a practice ride or qualifying race to lock in a Grand Prix bet at strong odds. Indeed, once a race is run and the final results are in, the odds will quickly adjust to the new odds. Just before that moment, a bet at high odds can sometimes be quickly fixed. That way, sports bettors can earn higher winnings on bets won.

Importance of pole position not exaggerated

All in all, pole position is a starting position worth fighting for, especially since the winnings that drivers can earn within Formula One are not economical. After all, every position in the rankings can save millions of euros in prize money. For example, Verstappen drove over 120 million euros in his career, according to the Quote 500.