Thursday, 26 November 2009

F1 tips: factors, successes and mistakes

There is a big rule change coming in the 2010 season, namely that there will be no refuelling. This will prove challenging for me as my main approach to betting on the sport was based on fuel loads.

As there’s some time (about three and a half months) between now and the next season I thought it’d be useful to go over what factors I considered when making bets, why some long shots came in and what preventable mistakes I made.

Firstly, factors. Number one was fuel load, but that’s not an issue next season, nor is KERS, which I rather liked. Temperature is another very important one. Different cars and different drivers find it easier or harder to get their tyres up to speed. Not enough heat and you lose grip, which isn’t handy when you’re going at 180mph. However, too much heat and you ruin your tyres, losing grip and possibly needing a new set. Barrichello is good at managing his tyres. Button is silky smooth, so he’ll never shred them, but during the latter half of the season he really struggled to get any temperature into them. By contrast Hamilton is a ragged edge driver, which means he’s prone to punctures. It’ll be fun to see if McLaren’s new car will be able to accommodate the utterly different nature of their drivers in this regard.

Next up is the fact that the gap between the teams last season was small enough that at different circuits any one of about four teams (Ferrari, McLaren, Brawn and Red Bull) had a chance of victory, and even Force India came from nowhere to get a second place. Favourites are often overrated, creating value lower down the grid. However, this may be trickier next year due to the lack of fuel stops.

For next season, overtaking ability will prove crucial. Hamilton is a good overtaker, and Button and Vettel are also. I believe that the double-diffuser that gave Brawn such an advantage in speed had a secondary, less remarked upon, bonus which was that it made the air behind it dirtier (ie slowed down cars that got very close behind), making overtaking them harder. I think that they’ve altered the aerodynamic rules somewhat to try and prevent that in 2010.

Last one is obvious, but worth mentioning: driver. I deliberately argued against Kovalainen for the win at one race or another, despite an excellent grid position and five tons of fuel because he simply isn’t a race winner. Whether Rosberg is we’ll find out next season. Alonso’s eminently reliable, Vettel can sometimes put in a Schumacheresque performance and was the most consistent qualifier (more important in 2010 than 2009). Hamilton can overtake, and is very fast. These three are the best in my view, with Rosberg a possible contender, Webber an also-ran and Button unlikely, in my view, to retain his crown.

Also, Bruno Senna will be racing in 2010. Word is he’s not too bad a driver.

Now, successes:
My 70/1 Button tip (which I didn’t back myself) might look brilliant (and it was), but it was also more obvious than a transvestite with a beard. I just checked the pre-season time trial stats. The Brawn was fast as hell. Simple as that.

Monza was nice, backed both Brawns for podiums (podia?) at longer than evens, and Barrichello to win at 7/1 (two failed bets as well). This was based simply on them having good fuel and being underrated due to performing badly in previous races. A past race is not guaranteed to be a predictor of a future one, after all.

I backed Raikonnen at Spa (and he won), but got too attached to the idea of him winning and subsequently backed him too often. Drivers will have peaks and dips in form, and some circuits just won’t suit them. It’s also worth considering whether the car that season will stay in development, or whether they’ve shifted the R&D to the next season’s car.

I also advocate laying bets when possible as in F1 anything can happen (and quite often does). Better safe than sorry.

Hmm, was rather hoping I’d have more insight into long shots that came in and serial mistakes, but I do think those are the only ones lessons can be drawn from. Hopefully the next season’s driver lineup will be known soon, and the full rules as well.

For the record, I’ve put a pittance on Massa at 16/1 (he’s not 4x worse than Alonso who’s about 4/1) and looking for Rosberg at 14/1 to be matched (the Mercedes may be tasty). I intend to make larger bets once more information is known.

Morris Dancer


Robert Barnes said...

Interesting stuff. Thanks.

Morris Dancer said...

Np. I can't remember how early on last season they started doing pre-season testing, but when they do I intend to post once or twice about it. I'd be staggered if there were a 70/1 style shot this time around (far fewer rule changes mean less chance of a big surprise), but there might be some value still.

bunnco said...

How do you rate LotusF1 chances in the upcoming season?

Morris Dancer said...

Using my in-depth knowledge and cunning insight I don't have a bloody clue.

Brawn showed that 'new' teams can make a big splash, but that can't be used as an example. Brawn had several unique advantages over the properly new teams:
1. Ross Brawn - very very clever chap
2. Good, and experienced, driver lineup
3. They weren't really *new*, they took over from Honda
4. Perhaps most importantly there were a huge number of rule changes, allowing more room for someone to steal a march. There are rule changes for 2010 (no refuelling being the big one, and no KERS as although they're allowed no team is taking it up) but nothing like on the scale of 2009.

I suspect the new teams won't be tussling for the title.

Not sure if Lotus have announced their drivers, I don't think they have yet. Be interesting seeing the full lineup for 2010.