Formula One Betting: German Grand Prix Preview

The German Grand Prix is unique in that it isn't held on the same circuit every year. The race is shared between two venues: the Nurburgring, a small offshoot of the famous 14-mile Nordschleiefe, and the Hockenheimring near Heidelberg, which hosts this weekend's race.

The modern Hockenheimring has a reputation for producing good races, with the tight Spitzkehre hairpin and its following sequence of bends useful spots for overtaking.

But F1's last visit to the track saw an exchange of positions that was more contentious than thrilling. Ferrari's order to race leader Felipe Massa to let team mate Fernando Alonso win the race didn't just aggravate those who had their money on Massa to win - it was also against the rules.

Ferrari got a slap on the wrist from the sport’s governing body, who later rescinded the rule banning team orders.

So if you're planning on putting money on a winner it's worth stopping to consider whether your chosen driver might not be allowed to win in the first place.

Ferrari favour Fernando

Ferrari's reasoning in 2010 was that Alonso's chance of winning the drivers' championship was greater than Massa's, so he should claim the 25 points for winning.

It’s a curious fact of F1 that, despite having the constructors’ championship to compete for, some teams judge their success more on where their top driver finishes in the drivers’ championship.

As things worked out, Alonso lost the championship anyway, so Massa's sacrifice was pointless. This was a little bit of history repeating. In 1999 Ferrari had Mika Salo pull over at the Hockenheimring to let team mate Eddie Irvine win for the good of his championship cause. Irvine also lost the title and Salo never won a Grand Prix.

Should the same thing happen again expect Ferrari to do much the same. Alonso is leading the drivers' championship and Massa, though still capable of winning the title, is even further behind at this point than he was two years ago.

Given his recent success, it’s surprising to see Alonso’s odds of winning as high as 5.5 – expect that to fall once the weekend gets started. Massa is priced at 25.0, reflecting both his poor form so far this year and his inferior status within the team.

Red Bull and McLaren

In 2010, Red Bull said they would not issue instructions to their drivers on who should finish where. But since team orders were made legal again in 2011 that policy seems to have changed.

At Silverstone last year Mark Webber was ordered to hold position behind Sebastian Vettel in the closing stages. He ignored the message, but wasn't able to pass Vettel anyway.

However, both of Red Bull's drivers are in the thick of the championship hunt, within 30 points of Alonso. So don't expect to hear orders issued here and don't expect them to be heeded if they are.

The question of team orders becomes most interesting when we consider the situation at McLaren.

This team has a history of putting the best two drivers it can obtain in its cars and letting them fight it out for themselves. But with Jenson Button slipping back in the championship and Hamilton their best-placed driver, might they ask Button to help his team mate?

Consider that tactical and operational errors by McLaren have robbed Hamilton of dozens of points this year, and they are presently trying to get him to commit to a new contract.

Realistically, it's not likely to happen until Button is mathematically out of the championship hunt - something which won't happen for at least another five races

But with the championship so close, every point is critical, and teams will seize any opportunity to grab extra points for their leading driver – however questionable.

Keith Collantine is the editor of Formula One Blog F1 Fanatic and you can read more of his articles here.