World Cup 2014 Group A betting preview: Brazil, Fred, Croatia & more

Brazil to win the World Cup – 8/1

As hosts, Brazil are understandably favourites for the World Cup. But they don’t have just home advantage on their side. Luiz Felipe Scolari’s men proved that they are the real deal after winning the Confederations Cup last year, beating defending champions Spain in the final. With the likes of Neymar, Oscar, Fred and Hulk in their 23-man squad, there is no shortage of firepower either. New Paddy Power customers can avail of enhanced of 8/1 on Brazil to win the World Cup on home soil.

This hugely inflated price is part of a four-way offer for new Paddy Power customers, with Argentina available at 12/1, Germany at 14/1 and holders Spain available at an incredible 16/1.

Cameroon to finish bottom of the group – 4/6

The Tipster feels that Cameroon could struggle in Group A. Brazil and Croatia will fancy their chances of qualification and the African side will need to get off to a good start against Mexico to have any hope of progressing. Cameroon finished bottom of a group containing the Netherlands, Japan and Denmark at the 2010 World Cup and face a much tougher assignment this time around. The Tipster likes the look of Cameroon to win the wooden spoon in Group A at 4/6.

Croatia to top Group A – 7/1 (Brazil 2/9)

Could Brazil make a slow start amid growing expectation and pressure surrounding their World Cup chances? Possibly! Brazil face Croatia in their opening group game and the Tipster wonders if A Seleção could stutter as the world watches their curtain raiser. Croatia have plenty of goals in their squad in the shape of Mario Mandzukic, Ivan Rakitic and Nikica Jelavic. If Brazil do slip up, Croatia will pounce, making 7/1 on the Croats to top Group A worth a punt.

Fred to finish as top scorer – 22/1

Most eyes will be on Barcelona forward Neymar as he attempts to emulate Brazilian greats of the past, such as Pele, and fire his country to World Cup glory on home soil. But the 22-year-old doesn’t enter the tournament in great form after failing to find the net in final five Barcelona games. Neymar is 11/1 to finish as the tournament’s top-scorer. But another Brazil striker, Fred, could represent much greater value. The 30-year-old finished the Confederations Cup as joint top scorer and at 22/1, the Tipster feels he is worth a few bob.

Choupo-Moting to score any time in Mexico v Cameroon – 4/1

Eric Maxim Choupo-Moting is Cameroon’s form player heading into the World Cup. The Mainz striker, who scored 10 goals in 33 Bundesliga appearances last season, has netted three goals in his country’s three warm-up games against Macedonia, Paraguay and Germany this month. The Tipster thinks Choupo-Moting to score any time against Mexico is great value at 4/1 and could shorten ahead of their 13 June clash. For those who like a bore draw, Mexico and Cameroon are 7/1 to play out the World Cup’s first goalless stalemate.

What is an Accumulator Bet?

An accumulator is a bet that combines four or more selections into a single wager that gains a return only when all parts win.

The advantage of an accumulator is that winnings are much higher at the expense of increased risk, only a single selection need lose for the entire bet to lose.

In the case of a non-runner, returns are calculated as though the accumulator hadn’t contained the selection i.e. a six-fold would become a five-fold. Dead heats for a winning position are settled at reduced odds using standard rules. Bonuses of a fixed percentage and enhanced accumulator odds are regularly made available at bookmakers including bet365 and skybet.

Accumulators are available for all sports, however bookmakers vary in their rules on combining selections from more than one to create a single bet. Selections from the same event cannot be combined into a single accumulator, this is to prevent anyone trying to place several bets on the same runner, more formally the selections must be mutually independent.

Due to the all or nothing nature of the accumulator some punters like to hedge their risk by placing bets on the folds of their wager so that it is still possible to gain a return event when not all selections win e.g. a person placing a 6-fold accumulator might also place a stake on the 6 smaller 5-fold accumulators so that should one selection fail to win, not everything is lost.
Types of Accumulator

An accumulator is a bet of 4 or more selections, those with fewer than 4 behave the same but have different names as detailed below:
Number of selections Bet Name
2 Double
3 Treble
4 Four-Fold Accumulator
5 Five-Fold Accumulator
6 Six-Fold Accumulator
7 Seven-Fold Accumulator
8 Eight-Fold Accumulator

An upper limit to the number of selections doesn’t exist, making it possible to pick bets that could win big as this man found when he won £1.45m from a £2 horse racing bet.
Examples

The steps taken to calculate returns are outlined below using examples from horse racing and football. You won’t need to work out returns by hand each time, once you are comfortable with how things work you can enter odds into the accumulator calculator to speed things up.
Winning Example

Consider the following 4-fold football accumulator.
Match Result Selection Odds (Decimal) Bet Outcome
Manchester United 1 – 0 Fulham Manchester United To Win 1.5 Successful
QPR 2 – 1 Reading Reading To Loose 1.4 Successful
Chelsea 1 – 1 Newcastle Chelsea To Draw 3 Successful
Stoke 0 – 0 Arsenal Arsenal To Draw 5 Successful

Assuming a bet of £5 the calculation using decimal odds is as follows:

Total Returns = £5 * 1.5 * 1.4 * 3 * 5 = £145
Total Profit = Total Returns – Initial Stake = £150

The equivalent calculation using fraction odds would be:

Total Returns = £5 * (1/2 + 1) * (2/5 + 1) * (2/1 + 1) * (4/1 + 1) = £145

Loosing Example

If any selection fails to win, the stake is lost. For instance in the example above if Manchester United had failed to beat Fulham, the “Manchester United To Win” selection would have lost and hence so would the accumulator, resulting in an overall loss of £5.
Each Way Example

An each way accumulator bet consists of two parts:

A standard to-win accumulator bet as outlined in the examples above.
An accumulator bet on each of the selections to-place, with the “Selections” and “Odds” updated accordingly. Note that a to-place option may not be available for all sports and events.

A unit stake is placed on each of the 2 parts with the returns pooled to reach the total returns for the wager.

Consider the following horse race accumulator:
Selection Odds (Fractions) To Place Bet Outcome
1 4/1 1/5 Won
2 9/1 1/5 Won
3 3/1 1/5 Placed (came 2nd)
4 10/1 1/5 Won

Assuming a unit stake of £5 the returns would break down as follows:

The to-win part of the bet would loose because selection 3 failed to win, resulting in loss of the £5 stake and £0 returns.
The to-place part would be calculated as shown:
Part 2 Returns = £5 * ( ( 4 * 1/5 ) + 1 ) * ( ( 9 * 1/5 ) + 1 ) * ( ( 3 * 1/5 ) + 1 ) * ( ( 10 * 1/5 ) + 1 ) = £120.96
Part 2 Profit = Total Returns – Unit Stake = £115.96

The total returns for the bet is the result of adding together the returns from the 2 parts.

Total Returns = £120.96 + £0 = £120.96
Total Profit = Total Returns minus the 2 £5 stakes = £110.96

Each Way Betting Explained

Each way (E/W) betting is a popular betting strategy, which allows punters to make a selection on a particular event where there are a number of possible outcomes. An each way bet consists of two equal sized bets, with one backing the win (win bet) and the other backing the selection to finish well, high up, or amongst the ‘places’ (place bet).

Perhaps best known for horse racing, each way betting occurs when the racing field has more than 4 runners and riders. Bookmakers offer half (1/2), third (1/3), quarter (1/4) or a fifth (1/5) of the odds on a winning selection depending on how many runners there are in a field.

Each way betting explained in terms of football is common across a tournament or league format where ‘places’ can be easily determined such as the positions where clubs have finished in a domestic league table or the finalists in a competition, i.e. the winners and runners up of a tournament. Each way betting is also available in other outright betting markets such as the top goalscorer market.

Each Way Betting Example

If we have a strong fancy that Liverpool will either be champions or likely to finish high up in the Premier League then we can employ each way betting and possibly guarantee a profit. If we take the odds of Liverpool to win the Premier League at 12.0 then we can see that with bookmakers providing 1/3 odds on a 1-2 finish then we can guarantee a profit using each way betting providing Liverpool finish either first or second in the league.

£10.00 (E/W) Each Way bet
£20.00 Total

Win Bet
£10.00 on Liverpool to win the Premier League @12.0
If Liverpool win the Premier League then the winning returns including stake would be £120.00.
If Liverpool does not win the Premier League then the £10.00 bet will be a lost bet.

Each Way Bet
£10.00 on Liverpool to finish first or second @3.0 (or 1/3 of winning odds of @12.0)
If Liverpool finish either first or second then the winning returns including stake would be £30.00.
If Liverpool does not finish first or second then the £10.00 bet will be a lost bet.

From this we can see that if Liverpool finished in the top two then a profit is guaranteed through each way betting as the £30.00 profit from the each way selection is more than the total amount staked of £20.00, resulting in a guaranteed profit of £10.00. If Liverpool win the league then both bets are won with £150.00 returned (£120.00 + £30.00) from £20.00 staked or £130.00 profit.

Benefits and When to Use Each Way Betting – Explained

When you are NOT looking to back the favourite. It is very rare that the each way betting odds of a favourite are 2.0 or higher.
When you are unsure if your selection will win the competition, but are more confident and reasonably assured that the selection will finish well in a competition or high up in the league or ‘places’.
When you have a fancy for a ‘dark horse’ or a side having an outside chance in a competition, i.e. a selection at longer odds. Here the longer odds would make the odds for the ‘place’ bet particularly high and inviting.

Each way betting should only be used when the each way betting odds are equal to or greater than 2.0. The odds are then high enough to at least break even or produce an overall profit, by covering both the ‘win’ bet and the ‘place’ bet or the stake for the each way bet in total.

If the each way odds are less than 2.0 then it is advisable to simply back the win as even backing the selection each way will guarantee a loss overall and would only minimise potential losses than guarantee making any sort of profit.

Exploiting the Betting Odds to Win

Background

Odds and their movements present a unique opportunity to gauge what the bookie thinks and how the markets react to them.

Although the position that bookmakers take in public relations exercises is that they stand to make the most when there is an equal amount of bets on both teams in a match, the reality is that sometimes bookmakers think that a certain outcome is likely and use the odds as a psychological tool to draw the public into betting on the team they think will lose.

As the public likes to bet on favourites most times and these favourites do not lose or draw often enough for the bookmakers’ appetite, it makes sense that they use this psychological function mostly in Asian Handicap odds. This is where the public can lose if they bet on favourites who win by just goal.

Considering how the bookie always wins from the general betting public in the long run, it is wise to piggyback on the bookies’ predictions by considering how they market the odds.

Exploiting the Odds

You can tell what the bookie is trying to achieve from the early odds. If the top of the table-team is giving a ½ ball handicap to the number two team in the table, it is usually too high. The bookie is seducing you to bet on the underdog.

How do you tell if people have fallen for the trap?

Study the movement of the odds. Study it over two or three days. Check for large trends once or twice a day for three days and check the odds a last time an hour or two just before the match.

You can tell that most of the public are betting on a team when the price and odds on the team gets less favourable. Take note of heavy action where odds or prices have big movements.

Normally, the bookie likes to lay traps on favourites and popular teams which the public likes to bet on. So look out for favourable opening or early odds on these teams which eventually climb to normal levels when the match is about to start. (This take some experience and study.)

Check match facts against the odds movements. Check for Class, Form, Motivation and other factors as described in THE GUIDE. Is there something that most of the public wouldn’t know? If the non-favourite team exhibits traits that could help them win (or draw) or if the favourite team has some factors going against them, bet on the underdog just like the bookie, when the betting public is going heavy on the favourites.

The Other Parties Involved

That was the most common scenario. However, there are other parties around – big timers with inside knowledge, betting syndicates, match-fixers, etc who are not necessarily friendly to the bookie.

Sometimes, the big odd movements are caused by these parties (less often) and not by the betting public. When you see particularly heavy betting on weak teams, check the various factors and if you realise there’s no reason for it, be aware of such ‘big boy’ action going on. In this case, go with the flow of the betting. That is, bet on those teams which are being bet heavily on.

How do you make sure that the heavy betting is by these big boys in the know? Check out the forums. If everyone there seems to say they are betting on one team but the betting odds prove that money is being poured on the other, you will know that the heavy betting is not done by the Joe Publics.

The bookies need to let the public win sometimes. When? When the action is low. When you see little action on popular favourites from the odds movement and the asian handicap is reasonably high against the favourites, you might choose to bet on the favourites then.

Why Sports Betting is Profitable

Sports betting appeals to the smart bettor because it is not a game with a fixed house edge where the casinos are raking off fixed percentage. Sports betting requires more skill than luck similar to live poker. You won’t win every time but the skilled handicapper has a huge advantage over the recreational bettor. Before going into more detail you need to understand how sports betting works. We will take a look at football where a point spread is involved. (Basketball also uses a point spread.)

The casino Sports books make their money on sports bets by collecting a commission on losing bets. This is called the Vigorish or Vig for short. The most common odds are 11 to10. This means that if you want to win $100 you are risking $110. For example you place a bet on the Giants at the casino sports book and pay $110. If the Giants win you collect $210 when you cash your winning ticket. If you lose your bet you lose the $110.

Ideally the Sports book would like to have the same amount of money wagered on the two teams playing. If the Giants are playing the Colts and they have one player betting on the Giants and one player betting on the Colts they would pay the winner $100 but collect $110 for the loser. This gives them a $10 profit so they really don’t care who wins as long as they have an equal amount bet on each team. To accomplish this they assign a line or spread to make the contest equally attractive for both sides.

The Point Spread

Many people believe that the point spread is the predicted margin of victory by which one team will beat another team. This is not true. The line is the handicapper’s prediction of what number will be required to split the wagering evenly on both teams. For this reason the line may change from the opening line to the line at game time. The Sports books goal is to have the betting as evenly as possible.

If the public is swayed by sentiment to bet on a certain team then the odds makers need to adjust the line to get some action on the other team. Otherwise the betting would be heavily lopsided. The general betting public reacts from the opinions of others. This is why you see so many people “Jumping on the band wagon” of a winning team.

For the sports books the line is flawed if it does not attract the same amount of action on both sides however from a smart handicapper’s point of view, the line is flawed when it does not compute to his predicted outcome of the game. A weaker team can actually become the favorite if public sentiment is with that team. When this happens the underdog presents a huge overlay for the seasoned handicapper meaning that the odds are in his favor. For example: Team A should be a 3 point underdog to Team B however The public loves Team A and are betting on them and the line moves to make Team A a one point favorite, then Team B becomes an excellent bet. This is the contrarian principle and why many smart handicappers go against the general betting public.

The Sports Gambling Discipline

Sports gambling has plenty of experts that know everything there is to know to beat the sportsbook yet they are cleaned out by their lack of discipline. Nobody can succeed at sports gambling without solid discipline. Nobody, no matter how well they pick games, can survive long term at a sportsbook if they don’t also have discipline.

One of the biggest causes of loss of discipline in sports gambling is a “bad beat”. A “bad beat” is something that all gamblers have had to endure and suffer through.

It is when a bet that seemingly was in the bag as a sure win blew up, such as on a missed extra point, a called back touchdown, a team shooting the ball into their own basket, and on down the line. These things are always going to happen in sports gambling. What separates the winners from the losers is how they handle these “bad beats”.

Most gamblers coming off a “bad beat” in sports gambling will immediately go “on tilt” which is a slang term from poker that means a gambler is going to make even bigger bets on lesser percentage games in order to recoup the sports gambling loss from the “bad beat”.

Nearly always, the gambler that goes “on tilt” ends up blowing up his bankroll and is broke in short order. “Tilt” is about emotion; it’s a tirade at the betting window and has nothing to do with solid sports gambling fundamentals. This lack of sports gambling discipline also ties into money management.

When gamblers chase losses with money that was not supposed to be part of that day’s wagering activity they nearly always lose it because they are betting with emotion rather than fundamentals. Emotion is the most expensive commodity in gambling. The most valuable commodity is discipline.

You will find that gamblers with discipline will win far more money than experts without it.

Live betting on tennis matches

Live betting on tennis matches is extremely attractive and in some circumstances could be sufficiently profitable. For the top tennis tournaments the biggest bookmakers like bet365, William Hill and Bet at Home offer many in play betting options and one of them is about which one of the players will win the particular game.

The thing which is most characteristic for this type of live betting is that the odds are changed drastically during the game. It is entirely possible, under certain circumstances, the bettor to get pretty high odds in both directions after a few rallies.

For example, if you decide to bet for a break in the game and you bet on a match played by two relatively equal players at 30:15 for the serving player you will most often get odds around 10. It doesn’t seem quite impossible to have a break when the result is 30:15 right?

There are many punters around the world who bet on that way (of course with varying success ) by building their strategy on the basis of their betting experience and knowledge about the players. They follow the odds all the time and often bet on pretty high odds.

Of course this betting method doesn’t guarantee a particularly high success rate, but the bigger odds ensure that even with a low success rate, the profit is possible.

There are also bettors who use a completely opposite strategy. They back the serving player when the result in the game is 0:15 or 0:30 and thus get better odds.

The variations are many, but what is important is that with the proposals of betting houses like bet365, William Hill and Bet at Home for tennis matches, the opportunities for the bettors are many and should be carefully explored.

Champions League betting – Manchester United vs Olympiakos

Manchester United welcomes at Old Trafford Olympiakos in without any doubt the most interesting rematch of the 1/8 finals of the UEFA Champions League. The English team was shocked in the first match after losing 0-2 in Greece and they have an extremely difficult task if they want to continue forward in the tournament.

The task is even more difficult because this has been the weakest season for United for more than 20 years. The team has already lost any chances for success in all competitions except the Champions League and many believe that tonight David Moyes’ team will leave this one too.

Olympiakos’ players for sure don’t come particularly worried at Old Trafford and certainly feel that they have the needed strength to beat the Red Devils. This is really important because in Sir Alex Ferguson’s times in United, there were not many teams who arrived in Manchester with confidence. However, this season United conceded too many losses and it cost them their reputation. Now United have to fight for every ball against players who believe that they can take the victory.

Do United have the strength to win with difference of two or more goals? Hardly. Will they be able to score at least once? With the class of Robin van Persie and Wayne Rooney this probably won’t be a problem. But the question is whether the spaces they will leave behind will not allow the guests from Greece to score, and if it happens the lowest score by which United can qualify would be 4:1.

Surely this will mean that United will try to approach the game cautiously and they will try to avoid any mistakes in the defense. This in turn implies that there will hardly be many goals in the first half of the match and that’s why the bet for Total goals scored in the first half – Under 1 seems to me sufficiently justified. The coefficient proposed by bet365 for such a bet is 2.075, which makes it good enough for real betting.

What to do if the bookie refuses to payout

One of the interesting cases that each bettor may face when betting with an online or offline bookmaker is when a bet is winning, but the bookie refuses to pay it out due to an error in the odds offered to the player. What does this mean and how can this happen?

Firstly, this means that you’ve been offered a much higher odds than normal and therefore the bookie refuses to pay your winnings or at least not above the winning calculated by the real odds for the bet.

Secondly, it happens quite often, especially with the offline bookmakers where the people who take your bet from time to time make mistakes. Especially if the bet is made ​over the phone.

What can be done if this is the case? Actually, not much. Unlike many other legal relationships (what actually every bet with a registered bookmaker is) here all unconscious or deliberate errors made by the bookies don’t bring them any harm. The betting house has the right to claim that they will pay you the profit calculated by the reasonable odds and any court will probably agree with them.

So if you get odds of 8 for Manchester City’s victory over Stoke at home in a league match of the English Premier League do not hurry to celebrate. Even if you bet and even if you win the path until you actually get the money from the bookmaker is hard and long. However, you will easily get your profit with the real odds.

If you are asking at the moment “Why, isn’t it unfair?” the answer is that the biggest worldwide bookmakers are companies whose sole purpose is to make money in all possible ways. They also know what it needs to be done to be protected from all possible errors. The power is on their side and a punter will hardly be able to fight with them.

So, if you see such strange odds, the best thing you can do is simply contact the bookmaker once again to confirm that the odds are real and not an error. If the bookmaker confirms it, then everything is OK. If it is a mistake, well, you don’t expect to get odds of 8 for a City’s win at home against Stoke, right?

F1 2014 season preview – Hamilton to be champion, Vettel and Red Bull to struggle?

Who is on the grid this year? What are their prospects? Formula One pundit David Coulthard explains all, and we make a few predictions of our own, in our guide to the new F1 season.

Red Bull
#1 – Sebastian Vettel
2013: 1st, 397 points
2014 prediction: 2nd
“He hasn’t got anything to prove as a racing driver, but he, like any of the other exceptional guys, wants to win. He’s at his happiest when winning, but they can’t all win. There are a lot of unknowns, but it’s looking like it’s going to be difficult for him and Red Bull.”

Red Bull
#3 – Daniel Ricciardo
2013: 14th, 20 points
2014 prediction: 7th
“He’s got his opportunity with a world championship-winning team and, if he can match Vettel, he’ll be a very valuable asset for them. If he doesn’t match him, and is consistently unable to be a good supporting role, then his career will meander to somewhere else. I think he’s got good speed though.”

Mercedes
#44 – Lewis Hamilton
2013: 4th, 189 points
2014 prediction: 1st
“Last year he did a pretty solid job for Mercedes. Whenever you go to a new job there is a period of adjustment, but he is now in a situation where the car will be designed around his body shape. Can he win the championship this season? Yes.”

Mercedes
#6 – Nico Rosberg
2013: 6th, 171 points
2014 prediction: 4th
“Nico has really cemented his reputation over the past year. The way he has performed alongside Lewis Hamilton shows that he is the real deal. He’s not just another son of a famous driver in Formula One – he can win a title, he’s got that potential.”

Ferrari
#14 – Fernando Alonso
2013: 2nd, 242 points
2014 prediction: 3rd
“It’s important for him to win the championship, having made the decision to join Ferrari in the first place. He’s not always taken the most conventional choice in teams to get results, but he remains an exceptional driver – even if Ferrari were further away last year.”

Ferrari
#7 – Kimi Raikkonen
2013: 5th, 183 points
2014 prediction: 5th
“He did an exceptional job at Lotus last year and it’s very difficult to argue with his approach. Having worked with Kimi, I know that he’s not political – he’s a fast racing driver, so I don’t expect him to be a controversial figure at Ferrari this year.”

Lotus
#8 – Romain Grosjean
2013: 7th, 132 points
2014 prediction: 10th
“If Lotus can produce a competitive car, then Grosjean is capable of winning races this season. He’s overcome adversity and I think his performances at the end of last season were worthy of a winner. Whether he can become a championship contender is in his hands.”

Lotus
#13 – Pastor Maldonado
2013: 18th, One point
2014 prediction: 11th
“I think Pastor is better than last season suggests. His win [in 2012] shows he’s clearly fast and can handle the pressure of Formula One. There were obvious frustrations at Williams and now it’s time to show us his talent. There’s nothing to suggest that he does not have the potential.”

McLaren
#22 – Jenson Button
2013: 9th, 73 points
2014 prediction: 6th
“Last year was terrible for McLaren, but Jenson is the right man to be able to take that disappointment. His strength is in his consistency and decision-making ability rather than his outright speed. Nevertheless, this is a big year for him.”

McLaren
#20 – Kevin Magnusson
2013: n/a
2014 prediction: 8th
“Kevin comes to Formula one with good credentials, having performed well in the lower Formula series and he’s going to push Jenson Button a lot harder than Sergio Perez did last season. At the end of this year you’ll either put him in the elite category, or you’ll just say that he’s a very good racing driver.”

Force India
#27 – Nico Hulkenberg
2013: 10th, 51 points
2014 prediction: 13th
“Possibly should have been at Ferrari. He’s a good driver and is professional enough to take the opportunities available. I suspect that Hulkenberg will be the team leader at Force India. Once the cars are fully developed perhaps weight won’t be such an issue for him this year.”

Force India
#11 – Sergio Perez
2013: 11th, 49 points
2014 prediction: 14th
“It was always going to be difficult at McLaren for Perez last year. He’s a young guy and it will be about whether he can reflect on that one season and feel as though he left no stone unturned while he was there – I’m not so sure he can.”

Sauber
#99 – Adrian Sutil
2013: 13th, 29 points
2014 prediction: 15th
“Sauber are successful in the middle of the grid, their peaks and troughs are consistent and in that respect Adrian’s the perfect driver for them. He was pretty quiet before his year away from the sport and has to be given credit for how he handled the comeback, regularly scoring points last year.”

Sauber
#21 – Esteban Gutierrez
2013: 16th, Six points
2014 prediction: 17th
“His performances came a bit late last season, when he started to have some good qualifying results. A lack of Formula One experience is not an excuse for not having the speed to perform though. There needs to be something that makes you say ‘wow’, and I’m not sure he can do that. Maybe this is the year where he can gel with the new regulations and deliver.”

Toro Rosso
#25 – Jean-Eric Vergne
2013: 15th, 13 points
2014 prediction: 16th
“He is driving for his career. It’s a big year for Vergne. He’s got the swagger and the look of a stereotypical Grand Prix driver, but he’s got to deliver the consistency in qualifying and performance that he did not do last season.”

Toro Rosso
#26 – Daniil Kyvat
2013: n/a
2014 prediction: 18th
“His performance in Brazil in damp conditions last season was something of a standout moment. Whether he eventually goes on to show himself to be someone who can win races and challenge for championships someday remains to be seen though.”

Williams
#19 – Felipe Massa
2013: 8th, 112 points
2014 prediction: 9th
“Felipe has good speed. Alongside Fernando Alonso last season there were a number of occasions where he matched or out qualified him. In the race though it was a different case, but he is a safe pair of hands. He’s still relatively young, he’s enthusiastic and his energy will be good for Williams, who can be the dark horses on the grid this year.”

Williams
#77 – Valtteri Bottas
2013: 17th, Four points
2014 prediction: 12th
“Has been mooted as one of the most exceptional talents seen since Ayrton Senna. He finished last season strong and is a focused, serious guy. It continues to be a big opportunity for him and hopefully he can put in some flashes of brilliance. He needs to beat team-mate Felipe Massa to be considered in the next category of driver.”

Marussia
#17 – Jules Bianchi
2013: 19th, 0 points
2014 prediction: 20th
“Well respected in the sport. He reminds me of Giancarlo Fisichella in his look and is a fast racing driver. It’s difficult for him to be spending another year at Marussia based on previous performance, but hopefully this year Marussia take another step forward.”

Marussia
#4 – Max Chilton
2013: 23rd, 0 points
2014 prediction: 22nd
“Max’s season is in his own hands. Last year he wasn’t consistently close enough to teammate Jules Bianchi and, while he finished every grand prix, he needs to be showing more alongside Bianchi. If he doesn’t do that, he won’t get the opportunity for a top team.”

Caterham
#10 – Kamui Kobayashi
2013: n/a
2014 prediction: 19th
“I’m pleased he’s back. He’s got a good personality, great character and I love how he’s been funded by Japanese online support. I believe he is the best Japanese Formula One driver that we’ve ever had. He’s got good speed and an interesting approach. I believe we’ll see the true performance of the Caterham car based on how he drives it.”

Caterham
#9 – Marcus Ericsson
2013: n/a
2014 prediction: 21st
“He’s an unknown quantity, unless you followed him in the lower Formula series. He’s achieved reasonable results and this is his chance. The teams at the back of the grid have a history of soaking up funding and talent, so he has got to take this opportunity.”