Tuesday, 14 December 2010

MBE asks: Was it English votes for English fees?

MPs regional breakdownAye votesNo votesAbstentionsTotal
Northern Ireland012618
ALL MPs32530416645

A guest slot on the big vote and the West Lothian Question

Linlithgow and East Falkirk includes much of the late, lamented constituency of West Lothian. Last week its Labour MP, Michael Connarty, was one of 51 Scottish representatives to vote against Higher Education funding reforms, even though only English universities were directly affected.

Of course, his constituents would pay more to study in England, and, indirectly, spending changes south of the border affect Scottish funding. Rather than unravel how “English Votes for English Laws” could be defined, lets examine its Commons arithmetic at the tuition fees vote.

English MPs were 311-209 in favour of the measures with 8 absent or abstaining, a hefty majority of 102. Yet the overall margin of victory was slashed to 21 by MPs from Scotland (majority of 45 against), Wales (24) and Northern Ireland (12).

It may seem strange to grandstand over a vote with no direct impact in your seat, but Lib Dem rebellion was strongest in Wales with all 3 MPs voting no; their Scottish MPs voted 5-4 (2 abs) while surprisingly their English colleagues were most loyal at 23-14 (6 abs).

This suggests local circumstances, and the leftward political centre of gravity in the Celtic nations, were factors in the Lib Dem rebellion’s size and shape: more so than their English MPs’ calculated aversion to cutting subsidies for their own constituents.

Total discipline from Labour, SNP and Plaid, and cross-party consensus in Northern Ireland, accentuated the Anglo-Celtic gulf. In contrast, all eight Tory rebels – 6 noes, 2 abstentions – hold English seats, although so do all bar nine Tory MPs!

The West Lothian Question also worked against the Conservatives in 2004, when Labour’s plan for “top-up” fees in England scraped through by five votes. English MPs disapproved, but 46 loyal Scottish Labour MPs, with less to lose, proved crucial.

England’s MPs are now distributed 296/188/43 plus one Green, Speaker, three Deputy Speakers and a vacancy. The Coalition’s theoretical majority there is 150, while the Tories alone have an outright majority of 64. Some form of EV4EL may tempt Cameron, particularly if the Lib Dems look unreliable. But if even the difficult fees vote could be steered through, does he really need it? And with its potential to reduce their leverage, should the Lib Dems be wary?

  • Numerical notes: tellers are included with voters, but the Speaker and his deputies excluded from consideration. With one by-election due, this restricts England to 528 potential votes from 533 seats. No allowance was made for the alleged “vote swap” of two English Lib Dems absent in Cancun. NI includes five abstentionist Sinn Fein MPs.
  • My Burning Ears

    Monday, 13 December 2010

    2011 - the visions of antifrank

    It's that time of year where we look back over the last year and pretend that we knew what was going to happen all along. All the political journalists are no doubt preparing their predictions for the year ahead, so I thought I would get in first.

    So, where to start? I'm a firm believer in making predictions based on things we already know. So what do we already know?

    1) The public don't like what the Government is doing

    Government approval is negative and has been for some time. Minus 7 is typical.

    2) The public are cooling on David Cameron

    His approval ratings are now barely positive. He is, however, the leader with the best approval ratings.

    3) But his party is doing fine

    The Conservatives' ratings are at worst barely lower than their last election result and at best significantly better. After they have spent 7 months introducing cuts, I expect that they are fairly content with that tally for now.

    4) And Conservatives love David Cameron

    Ignore all the rightwing headbangers' mutterings: while David Cameron is getting 95% satisfaction ratings from intending Tory voters, he is in a very strong position.

    5) Labour supporters are really unhappy with Nick Clegg.

    Upwards of 70% of Labour supporters in YouGov surveys rate Nick Clegg as performing his job very badly. This analysis is not shared by Conservative or Lib Dem voters, both of whom broadly approve of him.

    6) The Lib Dems have lost half or more of their support

    Whether or not you believe the YouGov ratings that are now regularly dipping into single figures, the other pollsters are also finding a lot fewer Lib Dems than voted for that party in May.

    7) Those (few) Lib Dems that remain are reasonably happy with the government, the Lib Dems and Nick Clegg

    The remaining Lib Dem voters are supportive in large but not amazing numbers of all three

    8) Meanwhile, Ed Miliband is making a very hesitant start

    Only 27% of YouGov poll respondents were prepared to say that he was up to the job. 19% of stated Labour supporters said that he wasn't up to the job. His leadership ratings are now firmly negative, as the don't knows are breaking towards don't like.

    9) But despite this, Labour is doing fine

    Labour is in the lead with every single pollster at present

    10) And there is a succession of bad news ahead for the Government

    a. VAT is rising
    b. The tax take will rise further in the new financial year
    c. The impact of the cuts will become visible

    11) But the economic outlook is currently better than most of us would have predicted at the general election

    a. Economic growth has far exceeded expectations in the last two quarters and there are indications from both manufacturing and construction that these areas are growing strongly
    b. Though the possible impact of continuing Eurozone turmoil is hard to assess

    12) And the public have numerous opportunities to express their views

    With a by-election pending in Oldham East & Saddleworth, a referendum on AV, elections in Scotland and Wales and local elections throughout Britain, a large section of the public will get chance to pass judgement on current events

    augur antifrank's predictions

    With these trends, what can we expect in the year ahead? Well, the public are in a surly mood. No politician in the main three parties is meeting with consensus approval.

    1. Labour will prosper in the polls

    In the short term, this trend will help Labour. When the public is in a hostile mood, the lightning will be directed at the parties in power. As the cuts bite deeper and taxes rise, Labour should rise in the polls. Even if the economy continues to grow, the public will feel poorer. Ed Miliband will have to work quite hard to mess this up.

    Labour can hope to win something close to an absolute majority in both Scotland and Wales with good campaigns. If they don't win an absolute majority in Scotland but are the largest party (which has to be the single most likely outcome at present), will they seek to govern with a minority or will they seek to form a coalition? My guess is that they will seek to govern as a minority, though they would be wiser to form a coalition with the Lib Dems.

    2. The Greens may well become more influential

    But unless Ed Miliband can turn around initial public perceptions of him, it's likely that other parties also will benefit. The Greens seem to have a major opportunity: leftwingers in particular seem to feel let down by all their regular choices. If they positioned themselves wisely, the Greens could scoop up a lot of left of centre voters who don't yet feel that the Labour party that has yet found a new direction. To date, the Greens have decided against compromising with the electorate. Do they have the vision to see their opportunity?

    3. UKIP should resurface

    There is also an opportunity on the right. The Conservatives have got the sound money right wing vote locked up. Can UKIP exploit the cuts to its own advantage? They would need to take a populist rightwing approach, but such approaches have worked well in quite a few European countries (Belgium, the Netherlands, Italy and Hungary, for example) and UKIP could do much worse than look to continental Europe for inspiration. What they really need is an impeccable rightwing campaign that needs government spending. The armed forces, perhaps?

    4. The Lib Dems will continue to flounder

    The Lib Dems are having to participate in all kinds of nasty cuts with the Tories. This is a new and very painful experience for Lib Dems, who largely came into politics to do nice things (the Tories on the other hand have strong stomachs for such matters and it probably helps them keep their own voters happy).

    Such policies will not help the Lib Dems to attract voters back in the short term, at least in national opinion polls. Expect to see the Lib Dems retreat into hyper-localism. This may prove more effective than the major two parties expect in the local elections, but is unlikely to help them much in Scotland or Wales, in both of which they can expect to be spanked. On the other hand, they might just take Oldham East & Saddleworth if they can harness the tactical Tory vote.

    5. The Tories will stay in touch with Labour

    Tory supporters like the cuts, at least the principle of them. The Tory poll ratings have slid gently but consistently through the last few months and will probably continue to do so while the cuts continue to bite. But I doubt the slide will accelerate and in Scotland the Tories might even get an increase in support in May. In the local elections, the Conservatives will lose a lot of seats, but perhaps not as many as might be expected, given how badly placed Labour are in so many parts of southern England.

    6. The AV referendum will be lost

    The election will take place after two weeks of Royal wedding mania and no one cares about electoral reform. The referendum will be seen to be about Nick Clegg. If Ed Miliband campaigns hard for AV also, it might also come to be seen to be a referendum about him. At the moment, neither are voter magnets.

    7. Fewer than half of my predictions will come true.



    Tuesday, 30 November 2010

    For St. Andrews Day: Holyrood 2011 The New Constituencies

    Happy St Andrew's Day one and all. As we are only 5 months out from the Holyrood elections, I thought it might help the serious gamblers on PB if I set out the 73 new constituencies and where possible show the relevant 2007 winner and runner-up and my early guess at likely winner in May. The new seat is named first and the old seat in brackets below. In a couple of cases where seats are completely new or go completely there is no comparison.

    Some seats have had little or no boundary changes like the 3 island seats while others like the Highland seats, the Aberdeenshire and Angus seats and the Borders seats have seen major changes.

    The Weber Shandwick website www.scotlandvotes.com attempts to show what would have happened in 2007 on the new boundaries and for example turns Jim Murphy's East Renfrewshire (Eastwood at Holyrood) into a safeish Tory seat because Labour has lost its heartland of Barrhead from the constituency into a neighbouring already safe Labour Renfrewshire one.

    Unless there is a big sea change between now and May, I reckon many of the SNP gains in 2007 on huge swings resulting in tiny majorities, in almost all cases far below the average of 2000 spoilt votes per seat will return to Labour and the LibDems will lose out in places like Dunfermline which swung back so heavily to Labour in May.

    New Seat
    (Old Seat) 2007 Winner 2007 Runner Up
    Nov 2010 Prediction
    1.Aberdeen Central
    (Aberdeen Central) Lab Hold SNP Lab Gain from SNP
    2. Aberdeen Donside
    (Aberdeen North) SNP Hold Lab SNP Hold
    3. Aberdeen S & N Kincardine
    (Aberdeen South) SLD Hold SNP SLD Hold
    4. Aberdeenshire East (Gordon) SNP Gain SLD SNP Hold
    5. Aberdeenshire W (Aberdeenshire W and Kincardine) SLD Hold SNP SLD Hold
    6. Airdrie and Shotts (Airdrie and Shotts) Lab Hold SNP Lab Hold
    7. Almond Valley (Livingston) SNP Gain Lab Lab Gain from SNP
    8. Angus North and Mearns
    (Angus) SNP Hold Con SNP Hold
    9. Angus South - - SNP Hold
    10. Argyll and Bute (Argyll and Bute) SNP Gain SLD SNP Hold
    11. Ayr
    (Ayr) Con Hold Lab Con Hold
    12. Banffshire and Buchan Coast (Banff and Buchan) SNP Hold Con SNP Hold
    13. Caithness, Sutherland and Ross (C, S and ER) SLD Hold SNP SLD Hold
    14. Carrick, Cumnock and Doon Valley (C, C and D V) Lab Hold SNP Lab Hold
    15.Clackmannanshire and Dunblane (Ochil) SNP Hold Lab SNP Hold
    16. Clydebank and Milngavie
    (C and M) Lab Hold SNP Lab Hold
    17. Clydesdale (Clydesdale) Lab Hold SNP Lab Hold
    18. Coatbridge and Chryston (C and C) Lab Hold SNP Lab Hold
    19. Cowdenbeath (Dunfermline East) Lab Hold SNP Lab Hold
    20. Cumbernauld and Kilsyth (C and K) Lab Hold SNP Lab Hold
    21. Cunningham N (Cunningham N) SNP Gain Lab Lab Gain from SNP
    22. Cunningham S (Cunningham S) Lab Hold SNP Lab Hold
    23. Dumbarton (Dumbarton) Lab Hold SNP Lab Hold
    24. Dumfriesshire (Dumfries) Lab Hold Con Con Hold
    25. Dundee City East (Dundee East) SNP Hold Lab SNP Hold
    26. Dundee City West (Dundee West) SNP Gain Lab SNP Hold
    27. Dunfermline
    (Dunfermline West) SLD Gain Lab Lab Gain from SLD
    28. East Kilbride
    (East Kilbride) Lab Hold SNP Lab Hold
    29. East Lothian
    (East Lothian) Lab Hold SNP Lab Hold
    30. Eastwood (Eastwood) Lab Hold Con Con Hold
    31. Edinburgh Central (Edinburgh Central) Lab Hold SLD Lab Gain from SLD
    32. Edinburgh Eastern (Edinburgh East and Musselburgh) SNP Gain Lab Lab Hold
    33. Edinburgh North & Leith (Edinburgh North and Leith) Lab Hold SLD Lab Hold
    34. Edinburgh Pentlands (Edinburgh Pentlands) Con Hold Lab Con Hold
    35. Edinburgh Southern (Edinburgh South) SLD Hold Lab SLD Hold
    36. Edinburgh Western (Edinburgh West) SLD Hold SNP SLD Hold
    37. Ettrick, Roxburgh and Berwickshire (R and Berwick) Con Gain SLD Con Hold
    38. Falkirk East
    (Falkirk East) Lab Hold SNP Lab Hold
    39. Falkirk West (Falkirk West) SNP Gain Lab Lab Gain from SNP
    40. Galloway and West Dumfries (Galloway and Upper Nithsdale) Con Hold SNP Con Hold
    41. Glasgow Anniesland (Glasgow Anniesland) Lab Hold SNP Lab Hold
    (Glasgow Baillieston) Lab Hold SNP -
    42. Glasgow Cathcart (Glasgow Cathcart) Lab Hold SNP Lab Hold
    43. Glasgow Kelvin (Glasgow Kelvin) Lab Hold SNP Lab Hold
    44. Glasgow Maryhill and Springburn (Glasgow Maryhill) Lab Hold SNP Lab Hold
    45. Glasgow Pollok (Glasgow Pollok) Lab Hold SNP Lab Hold
    46. Glasgow Provan (Glasgow Springburn) Lab Hold SNP Lab Hold
    47. Glasgow Shettleston (Glasgow Shettleston) Lab Hold SNP Lab Hold
    48. Glasgow Southside (Glasgow Govan) SNP Gain Lab Lab Hold
    49. Greenock and Inverclyde (Greenock and I) Lab Hold SNP Lab Hold
    50. Hamilton, Larkhall and Stonehouse (Hamilton South) Lab Hold SNP Lab Hold
    51. Inverness and Nairn (Inverness E, Nairn and Lochaber) SNP Hold SLD SNP Hold
    52. Kilmarnock and Irvine Valley
    (K and Loudoun) SNP Gain Lab Lab Gain from SNP
    53. Kirkcaldy (Kirkcaldy) Lab Hold SNP Lab Hold
    54. Linlithgow (Linlithgow) Lab Hold SNP Lab Hold
    55. Mid Fife and Glenrothes
    (Fife Central) SNP Gain Lab SNP Hold
    56. Midlothian N and Musselburgh (Midlothian) Lab Hold SNP Lab Hold
    57. Midlothian S, Tweeddale and Lauderdale
    (T, Ettrick and L) SLD Hold SNP SNP Hold
    58. Moray
    (Moray) SNP Hold Con SNP Hold
    59. Motherwell and Wishaw (Motherwell and Wishaw) Lab Hold SNP Lab Hold
    60. Na h-Eileanan an Iar
    (Na h-Eileanan an Iar) SNP Gain Lab SNP Hold
    61.North-East Fife (North-East Fife) SLD Hold Con SLD Hold
    62. Orkney
    (Orkney) SLD Hold SNP SLD Hold
    63. Paisley
    (Paisley North) Lab Hold SNP Lab Hold
    64. Perthshire North (Tayside North) SNP Hold Con SNP Hold
    65. Perthshire South and Kinross-shire (Perth) SNP Hold Con SNP Hold
    66. Renfrewshire North and West (Renfrewshire West) Lab Hold Con Lab Hold
    67. Renfrewshire South (Paisley South) Lab Hold SNP Lab Hold
    68. Rutherglen (Glasgow Rutherglen) Lab Hold SNP Lab Hold
    69. Shetland (Shetland) SLD Hold SNP SLD Hold
    70. Skye, Lochaber and Badenoch (Ross, Skye and Inverness West) SLD Hold SNP SLD Hold
    71. Stirling
    (Stirling) SNP Gain Lab Lab Gain from SNP
    72. Strathkelvin and Bearsden (Strathkelvin and B) Lab Gain SNP Lab Hold
    73. Uddingston and Bellshill (Hamilton N and Bellshill) Lab Hold SNP Lab Hold

    Saturday, 27 November 2010

    2010 season review: tips and bets

    In the first half of the season if you backed all my tips and didn’t lay, you’d be a muppet because I say in almost every post bets that can be hedged should be. However, you’d also be down £8.14. I don’t have a figure for the result if you did hedge your bets, but believe you’d be moderately ahead.

    The first half of the season also saw a huge divide regarding qualifying and race betting. Namely, I’m alright at qualifying betting but as much use as a condom made of sandpaper when it comes to race day.

    More detail is available here, as is a lovely graph:

    In the latter half of the season (Silverstone to Abu Dhabi) I kept better records of what happened regarding the bets and what the impact of hedging is. Naturally, hedging does make things a bit fuzzier, as people will hedge at different times with different stakes.

    Without hedging, just 3 of the last 10 races ended green. With hedging, this number rises to 5. Hedging improved the result at 5 races, made no difference at 3 (the ones where I couldn’t tip much due to stupid start times or personal business) and worsened the result at 2. At Spa and Monza, hedging turned red results into green ones.

    Below is a splendid graph showing the impact of hedging. The blue line is what happened if you put £10 on every tip, and left at it that, the pink line is what happened if put £10 on every tip and (if possible) hedged.

    The total affect, from Silverstone to Abu Dhabi, is an improvement of £61, taking a £53 loss and making it into an £8 profit. Now, that’s still a bit rubbish, but it does show just how useful it is to hedge bets.

    In F1, fortune can be very capricious. A good example is the Turkish GP, where I got my best result not due to foresight but because Vettel very helpfully collided with Webber. Obviously this works both ways, such as when Alonso failed to get pole at Hockenheim by 0.002s after I’d backed him at 6.8 [and laid at evens to end up all square].

    Weather, mechanical failure, being hit by another car and driver error can all ruin a race, and advantage those behind. This is why I think hedging is best, with the odd exception (first lap leader being one).

    For the next season, my plan is to offer tips on the main site, and do a post-race analysis for each GP. Depending on how things go, I may revert to the three articles per Grand Prix format.

    Going forward, I will probably do a preview of the 2011 season in February, and possibly write a little about the testing in that month. The first race is, sadly, Bahrain from 11-13 March.

    So, this is the final 2010 post. On track the season had many ups and downs, as did my tips. Hopefully the next season will see a bit more reliability from me, and a competitive Mercedes joining the Red Bulls, Ferraris and McLarens battling for race wins.

    See you then.

    Morris Dancer

    Sunday, 21 November 2010

    Who hates Nick Clegg?

    Since the Lib Dems threw in their lot with the Conservatives in the aftermath of the general election, Nick Clegg has come in for a lot of flak on the more left wing blogs and newspaper sites. It is often asserted that Nick Clegg is despised as a hate figure, perhaps even a figure of fun. Is that true?

    Well, we have had two recent polls where the public were asked to judge his performance, from YouGov (14 Nov) and IPSOS-MORI (27 Nov). The results are pretty similar. YouGov found 40% thought he was doing well and 50% thought that he was doing badly as leader of the Lib Dems, while IPSOS-MORI found 38% were satisfied and 49% were dissatisfied with his performance as deputy Prime Minister. Despite the difference in the questions asked, the words "margin of error" spring to mind.

    Are these unprecedentedly bad figures?

    No. These are perfectly normal. Gordon Brown twice managed to hit minus 62 in June 2008 with YouGov. David Cameron was at minus 27 in September 2007 with YouGov. Nick Clegg's positive approval ratings first broke 40% as recently as May 2009. His 38% positive approval rating with IPSOS-MORI is pretty comparable with the 42% positive approval rating that he had with IPSOS-MORI in January.

    What has changed is that Nick Clegg has far higher dissatisfaction ratings. In January 2010, only 26% were dissatisfied with his performance. That has shot up.

    Do 2010 Lib Dem voters feel betrayed?

    On the evidence of the IPSOS-MORI poll, yes, many do. 52% of 2010 Lib Dem voters are dissatisfied with Nick Clegg. This comprises fully 10% of the sample questioned by IPSOS-MORI. This is a troubling figure for Nick Clegg, there's no getting away from it. If that is the result 6 months in, he is going to struggle to win their support back.

    How do current Lib Dem voters feel about Nick Clegg?

    This is unclear. YouGov found that a mere 14% of Lib Dems felt that Nick Clegg was doing badly or very badly, while IPSOS-MORI found 34% dissatisfied with they way that he was doing his job. These figures are based on small samples, but the difference is striking. Perhaps this reflects the different questions asked. More data is needed.

    The internal dissent is certainly higher than David Cameron faces - 97% of YouGov Tories profess satisfaction with him, a result worthy of Pyongyang (ISPOS-MORI registers a scarcely more plausible 92%) - but Ed Miliband has yet to enthuse Labour YouGov and IPSOS-MORI respondents, with 15% of both already unhappy with him. Of course, there are rather more Labour supporters at present than Lib Dem supporters.

    Where does all the dissatisfaction come from?

    Three words sum this up: current Labour supporters. IPSOS-MORI finds that 71% of Labour supporters are dissatisfied with Nick Clegg's performance as deputy Prime Minister and YouGov finds that fully 87% of Labour supporters think that he is doing badly as leader of the Lib Dems. This fits in with the anecdotal evidence of who is making all the noise about him.

    There is also a geographical component to this. Sub-samples are not weighted, so are dangerous to rely upon, but the 68% disapproval in the YouGov Scottish sub-sample will not give Nick Clegg much encouragement in an area where 11 Lib Dem MPs have seats, while both YouGov and IPSOS-MORI find rather higher support for him in the Midlands and the South. There seems no reason to disbelieve this.

    How angry are the dissatisfied?

    Pretty angry, it seems. YouGov give respondents the opportunity to say whether they think Nick Clegg is doing badly or very badly. 27% of all respondents think Nick Clegg is doing very badly, including an incredible 61% of Labour supporters. That compares with 42% of Labour supporters thinking that David Cameron is doing badly. It is Nick Clegg that's getting the Labour heat.

    But outside the ranks of Labour supporters, there is no such anger. A mere 2% of current Lib Dem supporters and a mere 3% of Conservative supporters rate Nick Clegg's performance as very bad. This anger is an entirely partisan phenomenon.

    What does this mean?

    What it means, I think, is that there is a dialogue of the deaf. Current Lib Dems and Tories don't understand Labour anger. Labour supporters don't appreciate that their reaction is particular to them.

    Labour will no doubt feel confident that it will hang onto the support of the very unhappy. But making Nick Clegg into a human piƱata doesn't look like a promising way of getting many new recruits.


    Saturday, 20 November 2010

    2010 season review: prediction

    This review is about how good practice sessions are for predicting qualifying, and how good practice sessions and qualifying are for forecasting race winners. After this, I’ll write a final review summarising betting success or lack thereof during 2010.

    I allocated 1 point for every correct prediction. So, if P2 had Vettel the fastest and he subsequently got pole that’s 1 point. If he then won the race then (in the numbers for the winner) that’s also 1 point, and a further 1 point from qualifying.

    In addition, for pole position, I allocated 0.1 points for a prediction of a chap that came within a tenth of pole. So, entirely at random, if Alonso came within 0.002s of Vettel for pole, and P2 had Alonso as the fastest, that’s 0.1. I included this because I think a chap that close to pole is both capable of getting it and close enough to be very layable.

    So, which practice session was best for forecasting pole? Here are the stats:
    P1 = 4 = 21%
    P2 = 2.4 = 13%
    P3 = 7.2 = 38%

    This is good stuff, because I’ve said throughout that P3 (with the low fuel qualifying simulation run) is best for predicting the pole-sitter, and that P2 is probably the least useful as it includes heavy fuel running.

    What about the race winner, though? Again, I looked at the practice sessions, and qualifying, and here’s what emerged:
    P1 = 5 = 26%
    P2 = 4 = 21%
    P3 = 5 = 26%
    Q = 8 = 42%

    Unsurprisingly, pole is the best predictor, but still less than 50% correct. Interestingly, all three practice sessions are about the same in terms of predictive power, getting the answer right about a quarter of the time.

    We need to consider the Vettel Effect when looking at these numbers. He got pole more than half the time this year, and failed to get a win from pole pretty often. So, his lack of reliability (mechanical as well as personal) will have a dramatic impact on the results.

    So, what happens if we remove Vettel from the equation by cutting out races where he got pole? He got 10 poles, so stripping those races reduces the number to 9 (just under half). Here are the qualifying stats:
    P1 = 0 = 0%
    P2 = 0.1 = 1%
    P3 = 3.1 = 34%

    Race stats:
    P1 = 2 = 22%
    P2 = 1 = 11%
    P3 = 1 = 11%
    Q = 5 = 55%

    With the exception of qualifying predicting the race result, all other sessions see reduced predictive power. However, the grid becomes a better than evens forecaster, getting it right 5 times out of 9.

    Will this hold true next year? KERS, especially if some engines have superior systems, may give an almost automatic number of passes off the grid for some cars. If the Pirellis do (intentionally) degrade more than this year’s tyres then this will increase the impact of strategic decisions (deciding when to pit) and tyre management. Neither of these will affect qualifying, so I fully expect P3 to be best at predicting that again next year, but both would affect race results, making things a bit more mixed up at the sharp end.

    However, we also need to look at the predictive results for each individual race. There are some oddities (no-one saw Hulkenberg’s stellar pole in Brazil coming, for example), but a few patterns too. Here are the individual race predictions for pole and the race win (NB numbers are totals of all practice sessions/all practice sessions and qualifying):
    Bahrain = 0/1
    Australia = 0.1/0
    Malaysia = 2/0
    China = 0/1
    Spain = 0/1
    Monaco = 0/1
    Turkey = 0/1
    Canada = 1/2
    Europe = 1/2
    UK = 2/1
    Germany = 1.1/1
    Hungary = 2/1
    Belgium = 1/0
    Italy = 0/1
    Singapore = 0.2/1
    Japan = 2/3
    Korea = 0.1/0
    Brazil = 0/2
    Abu Dhabi = 2.1/3

    There are clearly quite a few races with little foresight offered by practice/qualifying, but a few do stand out as being predictable. Abu Dhabi and Japan especially, with high qualifying predictability in the UK and Hungary. Whether this is repeated next year remains to be seen, but is something I’ll try to remember to keep my eye on.

    Although P3 is the best qualifying predictor and qualifying is the best race predictor neither got it right even half the time, and this ought to be considered for next season.

    The next, and last, review will be about how the tips I offered (particularly in the latter half of the season) turned out.

    Morris Dancer

    Tuesday, 16 November 2010

    2010 season review: racing

    This first review will be purely from a sporting perspective. Later ones will examine how good practice and qualifying are for predicting race results, and how the actual betting went.

    I’ve been, lazily, into F1 for quite a while, and keenly into it for the last few years. I’ve got to say that I think 2010 has been one of the very best seasons ever, and the best I can personally recall. There were five genuine title contenders, numerous twists and turns, with driver errors and reliability problems galore, plus a final glorious sting in the tail.

    This year also saw the return of seven times champion Michael Schumacher. He did start off well below par, but towards the end of the season was more competitive, given the Mercedes was a leading midfield vehicle rather than a car capable of winning races.

    Three new teams joined the sport (HRT, Virgin and Lotus), and were frankly unimpressive. I’d definitely axe HRT, and probably Virgin and Lotus as well.

    But the real trademark of this excellent season was the action at the sharp end between Ferrari, McLaren and Red Bull. Ultimately Red Bull tied up both the Constructors’ and, through Vettel, the Driver’s titles.

    Unlike 2009, when Brawn had the fastest car by miles at the start, McLaren had the quickest car at the end and Red Bull was second best throughout, 2010 saw Red Bull fastest throughout the season. McLaren and Ferrari got close at times, but never really surpassed the double-title winners.

    The early season saw two phenomena that dictated the standings for a time: Vettel’s shocking reliability and Button’s excellent tyre calls in changeable conditions. The Briton scored his two victories in Australia and China, sandwiching Vettel’s first victory in Malaysia. The German ought to have won in the first race (Bahrain), but his spark plugs had other ideas.

    After this, Webber and Hamilton started racking up serious points. Both had back-to-back victories (Webber in Spain and Monaco, Hamilton in Turkey and Canada), and, after Alonso got the controversial and ultimately pointless win in Germany, they got their final wins in Hungary and Belgium.

    Button, unlike his rivals, never had consistent reliability issues or numerous driving errors. His main problem was a lack of speed, especially in qualifying, which made his races even harder, and he gradually slid down the table as others kept getting wins. In terms of driving reliability, he was clearly the best contender of the season.

    After Belgium, a horrible thing happened. Alonso started winning races. The last six were shared equally between El Grumpino and the Wunderkind, although Alonso’s Korean triumph was solely due to Vettel’s engine exploding (yet again) denying him another victory. Alonso drove tremendously well after Hockenheim. He did enjoy some luck, but earlier in the season a combination of safety cars and penalties had cost him dearly, and fortune evened out over the course of the season.

    Hamilton’s challenge had veered into the concrete barrier of woe due to a series of self-inflicted (if moderately unlucky) DNFs, when a number of overtaking attempts went wrong and wrecked his races, and his hope of regaining the crown.

    For a long time Webber seemed favourite for the title. However, a slip up in Korea, when he spun (and took out the unfortunate Rosberg) cost him a podium. Vettel then beat him in Brazil, and the Aussie had to finish ahead of Alonso in Abu Dhabi. Instead, the Aussie crumbled, delivering an unimpressive 5th spot on the grid, with his team mate grabbing pole. In the race, he was too slow. Even though Alonso was backed up by Petrov he never came close to passing the Spaniard or even trying to.

    Alonso had the easiest job in Abu Dhabi. With Webber behind him, all he needed was 4th or better. He qualified 3rd and although he was passed by a fantastically quick Button at the start he was still fine. Then Ferrari made a huge mistake. They copied Webber’s tactical error and pitted, forgetting about Vettel (who led almost all the race). Alonso emerged behind Petrov, who drove very well and kept the Spaniard behind him for more than half the race.

    Vettel made a number of serious mistakes during the season. Torpedoing your team mate never goes down well (except with the McLarens following you), and Button was unimpressed when the German accidentally took the Briton (and himself) out later in the season. But in Abu Dhabi he was just about flawless. He got pole, he led for almost all the race and he got the victory. Even better, fate was, for once, kind to Vettel. His rivals finished too far back and he was staggered to become the youngest ever world champion, and a deserving one too.

    Could next season be as good as this? The F-duct is gone, but KERS is back and a moveable rear wing (meant to aid overtaking) is introduced. Renault and Mercedes will be trying to thwart the top teams from this season, and it’ll be fascinating to see if they manage it.

    Recent news: Hulkenberg has parted ways with Williams. Despite a decent season for the rookie, he’s been axed, probably because the team needs more money. He stands a chance of getting a spot with a new team, or with Force India. Williams have confirmed Barrichello is being retained for 2011, which will be the Brazilian’s 19th season in F1.

    Morris Dancer

    Sunday, 14 November 2010

    Yas Marina: post-race analysis

    This season has been fantastic. Five contenders have battled for the title, each one has suffered reliability failures, made some mistakes and underperformed along the way. Ultimately, I feel the best man won.

    This race, and the season, was decided not just by the unbeatable pace of Vettel (followed closely by the surprisingly quick McLarens) but by the strategic side of the sport. I wrote before that Yas Marina is a processional circuit; it’s very hard to overtake in Abu Dhabi. If you’re ahead, that’s great. But if you make a critical strategic error and emerge from the pits behind, say, a Renault who took advantage of the safety car and doesn’t need to stop again it will wreck your race.

    Off the line Button got a great start and passed El Grumpino to take third. The soft tyres had begun to grain and slow, so Red Bull pitted Webber, and Ferrari reacted with both of their drivers. Massa was unable to jump Webber and although Alonso stayed in front of the Aussie he was, crucially, behind Petrov. I expected the Russian to make a mistake, and allow Alonso through. But instead he drove very well, and it was the increasingly desperate Spaniard who had the occasionally expedition off track [though Webber was so far back he couldn’t capitalise and pass Alonso].

    The two title leaders were held up, lap after lap, when, lo, a miracle happened. The soft tyres of the McLarens and Vettel began to improve. The three at the front stretched the gap. Hamilton blinked first and pitted, but came out behind Kubica (who had started 11th on hard tyres and would not pit for some time). Vettel used this to increase his lead, pitted and emerged ahead of the duelling Renault and McLaren. For a time it seemed Button, whose pace was most impressive, could also leapfrog Hamilton and Kubica, but eventually he came out behind Hamilton to get a tasty podium.

    Kubica had made the strategy work so well the gap he had created between himself and Petrov enabled him to finish ahead of his team mate (who had done very well to out-qualify the excellent Pole and keep Alonso bottled up for more than half the race).

    Vettel’s performance was near perfect. For a short time Hamilton got very close as the McLaren seemed to be easier on the tyres, but he was never close enough to contemplate the pass he needed for even a small chance of the title. Last year, Button had seen his lead eroded race by race, until he took up the gauntlet at Interlagos, passed more than half the field and secured a glorious title. This year, Webber crumbled at Yas Marina. His qualifying was not good enough, his race pace was slower than all his rivals and he never looked in it. Alonso failed to get past Petrov and made a rather frustrated hand gesture at the driver (who had done a marvellous job to get sixth) at the end.

    The top three were made of sterner stuff. Vettel was almost in a league of his own, and the two McLaren drivers were a distance ahead of the rest of the field (20s ahead of Rosberg). Vettel’s made some mistakes, but so have others (Alonso in Monaco and China, Hamilton’s repeated DNFs recently) and suffered more lost points to reliability than anyone else. I’m thrilled he (and not Alonso) won the title. Hockenheim could’ve tainted the prize. Instead, we have a youngest ever world champion, destined to be around for many a year.

    KERS comes back next season (Eddie Jordan reckons that Mercedes have stolen a march on Renault in this regard), as do five world champions. If the Mercedes team improves their car, Schumacher could be a contender again, though for the long term I think we’re going to see Vettel, Hamilton and Alonso sharing the titles between themselves.

    It’s also nice to end the season with an uncharacteristic pair of profitable tips. For next year (to be 20 races) I think I might do one article per weekend (after each race) and include any tips I offer on the main site there. I’ll do a few reviews of the season (from racing and betting perspectives) in the next few weeks. It’s been a fantastically entertaining season, so let’s hope 2011 can be half as good.

    Cheers for reading.

    Morris Dancer

    Saturday, 13 November 2010

    Yas Marina: pre-race

    Most interesting qualifying session. Vettel got pole, as tipped, after the Red Bulls opted for a series of laps on the soft tyre (which, unusually, seems to need that to get optimum pace) instead of an early run on one set of tyres then a late run on softs. Hamilton and Alonso did well to get 2nd and 3rd, and Button was unexpectedly racy in 4th. I never rated Webber’s chances of pole but was surprised he only got 5th.

    For Alonso, it’s good, likewise Vettel. Despite a great 2nd place, Hamilton remains very unlikely to get the title back. Webber had the worst of the lot though. 5th in a car fast enough for pole when fighting the final battle for the crown is simply not good enough.

    The lower half of the top 10 were Massa, Barrichello, Schumacher, Rosberg and Petrov. I was a little surprised the Mercedes didn’t get higher up the grid, and Petrov did very well to oust Kubica from the top 10 for the first time this season.

    Once again, rain seems unlikely for the race. Bit of a shame, as it would’ve thrown a spanner in the works and made things even more interesting. If the race finishes as it starts Alonso will win the title, by 5 points, less than the 7 extra he gained when Massa entirely of his own accord pulled over during Hockenheim.

    Each driver in the top 6 has a particular mission. Massa must try and get ahead of Webber, to prevent him having any hope of passing Alonso. Button must try to pass Alonso and keep the Spaniard and Webber behind him, so Hamilton can battle Vettel for the win without interference.

    Webber simply must pass Alonso. If he doesn’t, he can’t win the title. Vettel has to win, and hope other results go his way (he could theoretically win if he got 2nd but that’s even less likely. Alonso needs a 1st or 2nd to guarantee the title, but if the grid remains unchanged, he is the champion. Hamilton’s got to win and hope the other 3 do appallingly badly.

    Here’s the complete set of permutations:

    Hamilton and Massa came close to colliding during Q2, but both got through and came 2nd and 6th respectively in Q3, but a grid penalty is possible for the Briton, which would be a great shame.

    Unfortunately Yas Marina is one of those tracks where overtaking is not very easy or common, unlike Spa or Interlagos. This makes the qualifying result even more important (and likewise the penalty or lack thereof for Hamilton). Last time round only two cars retired so the final result will probably be very similar to the starting grid. The key moments will be the start (as ever), any safety cars and the pit stops.

    No action to be taken regarding the Hamilton-Massa incident, which I’m very pleased about.

    Quite hard to spot any value. Vettel’s 2 to win the race, and I’m more tempted to lay than back at those odds. He’s had good starts recently, but the lap 1 leader market does offer a 1.46 lay value or 5.6 to back Hamilton.

    Last time round there was very little change at the sharp end. Hamilton got pole and was on for the win until his car broke down, and the Red Bulls got a formation 1-2. Button went from 5th to 3rd, passing Barrichello who stayed 4th.

    Decided to back Button for a podium at 3.15. My thinking is thus: he starts 4th, so a good start could see him in the top 3. Unlike Webber and Hamilton-Vettel he doesn’t have to go bananas trying to beat Alonso/secure a win, so is less likely to make a silly error (Button’s made very few of those this season anyway), whereas a daring/mad overtaking manoeuvre from another driver could end that man’s race. He was also just three-hundredths off of Alonso’s time and was very competitive throughout qualifying (much moreso than I expected). Last but not least, Vettel’s car does have a habit of exploding just as he seems certain to win a race. Even if they hold station, Button would get 3rd if this happens yet again.

    So, a single tip: Button to get a podium at 3.15 (set up a hedge at 1.4).

    Morris Dancer

    Yas Marina: pre-qualifying

    Correction from last time: “If Vettel gets 1st he needs Webber 3rd or lower [Webber has more wins] and Alonso 6th or lower [10 points for 5th now].” Is wrong, Vettel would have 1 more win so if he wins and Webber’s 2nd, he has 1 more win than Webber and ties with Alonso.

    Cheers to, er, someone, for spotting that.

    It’s Thursday, and I’ve just read there’s been rain in Abu Dhabi. Only light, but still rather unexpected. Present forecast is for some rain over the weekend but a dry race day, though qualifying might be a little soggy.

    For full title permutations, the official website has helpfully put together a feature stating who must do what: http://www.formula1.com/news/features/2010/11/11509.html

    Staggeringly, P1 was slightly wet as it had rained in Abu Dhabi beforehand. Due to engine usage, the Ferrari was not really firing on all cylinders and its time cannot be considered representative of actual pace.

    P1 saw Vettel fastest, half a second ahead of Hamilton who was an equal margin ahead of Button in 3rd and Webber 4th. They were followed by Kubica, Alonso, Schumacher, Kobayashi, Rosberg and Heidfeld. Interesting to see the recent trend of Schumacher outpacing Rosberg continuing, and both Saubers doing well. I expect Alonso to improve from 6th come P3.

    During P2 Brundle reported that Button and McLaren think rain is a real possibility on race day.

    P2 had Hamilton a quarter second ahead of Vettel, who was about the same ahead of Alonso and Webber. They were followed by Kubica, Massa, Petrov, Button, Liuzzi and Rosberg. Strong performance so far from Hamilton.

    P3 was entirely dry, and had Vettel fastest, then Webber, Hamilton, Alonso, Button, Petrov, Schumacher, Rosberg, Kubica and Heidfeld. This is hard to read. BBC commentators believed that Red Bull were running a higher than usual fuel load at this stage to mask their true performance. Ferrari did not do the usual P3 qualifying simulation (a very low fuel, near to the end set of laps to show possible qualifying pace).

    Weather forecasts for the qualifying, (5pm local time, 1pm UK time), indicate it should be dry. Normally I wouldn’t bother checking for a race in the desert, but it has been raining very recently.

    So, qualifying. I’d be surprised if Webber got pole. Though not impossible, he’s run behind Vettel at every stage so far, and the German has been very quick of late. Ferrari’s lack of a qualifying simulation speaks of confidence but is rather unhelpful. Hamilton’s been running quite well, though the McLaren has an odd habit of being worse in qualifying than either practice or the race itself.

    For me, it’s between Vettel and Alonso. Vettel had a heavier fuel load (probably) but we did get a time. Alonso may’ve set his time with heavier fuel, but didn’t set a more recent time. Right. Looking back to P2 [I’m ignoring P1 as there’s no way the Ferrari is over a second slower than the Red Bull] Vettel had a few tenths on Alonso.

    The odds are presently Vettel 2.06 and Alonso 9.6. Got to say I’m tempted by those long odds. Checked back at the times for P3 and Hamilton was almost a second off Vettel, with Alonso almost identical to Hamilton. Even bearing in mind fuel and the track getting quicker, that’s pretty substantial.

    So, my tip is for Vettel to get pole at 2.06. Not very exciting or out of left field, but I think him the likeliest chap to do it.

    Morris Dancer

    Update: I slightly misread the timings, it would seem, but it doesn't materially change anything. Hamilton was just over half a second off the pace, Alonso was 2-3 tenths off of him. Tip stays as is.

    Sunday, 7 November 2010

    Interlagos: post-race analysis

    I love Interlagos. I’ve not seriously followed F1 for all that long, but for me it’s up there with Spa and Silverstone. Today featured an exciting race that saw Button’s title hopes axed completely and Hamilton’s hanging by a thread. Barring a seriously unfortunate (for them) turn of events, it’s now a Red Bull/Alonso title.

    If the top three got the same places at Abu Dhabi’s tedious Yas Marina circuit Alonso would win. Last year Abu Dhabi was good for Hamilton (he would probably have won or got a podium spot had his car not expired). This matters a lot because if he gets between Alonso and the Red Bulls this would help Vettel and Webber greatly.

    But, more title speculation later. The race was also remarkable because, if you followed my tips with equal stakes, you’d actually finish ahead. The wiser heads [ie not me] correctly forecast that Hulkenberg’s dry pace was nowhere near his drying pace, although he did a decent job against Alonso and an even better one against Hamilton. Ultimately, he got 8th, which isn’t great from pole, but it’s not a catastrophe either.

    Mercedes had another solid race, and seem to have a decisive advantage over Renault now. Schumacher is improving, outqualified Rosberg by a distance but couldn’t beat him on race day. Be interesting to see how he fares next year, having gotten back up to speed and had input into the 2011 car.

    By my assessment, the Ferrari and McLaren were pretty equal. Hamilton thrashed his tyres after the first pit stop, and but for that might have had a chance to try and pass Alonso come the restart. Button did a very good job to climb up to 6th, Interlagos is clearly a circuit he likes.

    However, the team that’s quickest is Red Bull. The problem is that their speed is like a glass dagger: very sharp, but brittle. There have been many reliability issues. But for them, Vettel would already be champion.

    Red Bull wrapped up the title nowhere cares much about, the Constructors’, showing a tip by me to back McLaren to be a bit rubbish.

    So, here are the title standings [decided to omit Hamilton as he needs a win and Alonso to get no points and the Red Bulls to do badly]:
    Alonso 246
    Webber 238
    Vettel 231

    If Webber gets 1st, he needs Alonso 3rd or lower. If Alonso gets 1st or 2nd he gets the title. If Vettel gets 1st he needs Webber 3rd or lower [Webber has more wins] and Alonso 6th or lower [10 points for 5th now].

    Here’s a reminder of the new scoring system:
    Winner: 25 Points
    2nd: 18 Points
    3rd: 15 Points
    4th: 12 Points
    5th: 10 Points
    6th: 8 Points
    7th: 6 Points
    8th: 4 Points
    9th: 2 Points
    10th: 1 Point

    Alonso and Webber clearly have the advantage, but Vettel does stand a real chance. Safety cars working against his rivals and accidents could yet hand him the title.

    I’m no fan of Yas Marina, the next and final race of the season. I think it’s a triumph of glitzy hotels over an exciting circuit [the polar opposite of Spa]. From what I recall, the race last year was somewhat processional. Anyway, it’s just 1 week away, not the usual 2. It will be the last race I’ll post a trio of F1 articles [until maybe 2012], after which I’ll take a little time and put up a few season reviews posts [from racing, prediction and betting perspectives]. I imagine I’ll not post again after that until it’s time for a 2011 preview post or two.

    Morris Dancer

    Saturday, 6 November 2010

    Interlagos: pre-race

    Blimey. The most surprising qualifying session this year, in terms of pole position. Hulkenberg came from nowhere to not only claim pole but slaughter the opposition. He beat 2nd-placed Vettel by over a second. Amazing. His odds were as long as 400/1 to get pole. Absolutely astounding performance. But will he be able to hold on during the race?

    The closest comparable event is, I think, Fisichella’s Spa pole in 2009 for Force India. At the time, I suspected he would spend the race going backwards, and so he did, only to second and he was always close to eventual race winner Raikonnen.

    Hulkenberg has a bigger problem, though. We are at the sharp end of a title race with four serious contenders, every one of which is immediately behind him. At the same time, there is a lot of speculation he’ll be axed by Williams and replaced by a driver with a lot of cash. Glory aside, he has a huge reason to do well.

    After The Hulk, we have Vettel and Webber, then Hamilton and Alonso. After these title contenders are Barrichello and Kubica, Schumacher, Massa and Petrov. Interestingly, the best placed team after Red Bull is Williams, suggesting that whilst Hulkenberg was spectacular in qualifying, the car itself is performing nicely at Interlagos.

    Just checking odds to get an idea of possible bets, and seen Hulkenberg is 33/1 for the win. From pole. This must be a record. Given the reliability issues of Red Bull I am seriously tempted by this. Recent precedents for this include the Fisichella drive at Spa last year and the Toro Rosso victory of Vettel [slightly different, as it happened in the rain]. In fact, every one of the four drivers immediately behind him are shorter (Alonso’s odds are just 10/1).

    33/1 is ridiculous for a chap on pole. Yes, the odds are against him, but not that much. I’ve got to back him.

    At the same time, I’ve laid him at 1.99 [not much available, but hopefully there will be] to lead lap 1. If he can stay ahead for much longer than that his victory odds ought to tighten substantially.

    Update: there’s now £1,900 to lay at 1.91.

    Anyway, it’s a bit late and that’s all I’ve got to offer. Tomorrow is all about The Hulk.

    Morris Dancer

    Friday, 5 November 2010

    Interlagos: pre-qualifying

    Yes, yet another pre-qualifying post before P3. Can’t be helped, I’m afraid. Before I get to the Grand Prix and title race, a word on next season. I do intend to continue betting on and following Formula One. However, given the performance of this year [ok on qualifying, dire on race day] I’m not going to write a regular mini-series of articles each weekend. If I do spot a tip, I’ll put it on the main site. I do intend to post about F1 on pb2, but more sporadically. Once the 2010 season ends, I’ll be doing some analysis, firstly to try and see just how good the practice sessions are at forecasting qualifying and race pace, and how good qualifying is at predicting race results. After that, I’ll be going through my bets and trying to find out which were just unlucky [yes, I still remember that **** Alonso missing pole by 0.002s] and which were moronic.

    The fact is I never really got to grips with no refuelling. I think it’s a mistake in terms of racing as, excepting Montreal, just about every dry race has had an identical, dull, one-stop strategy, but it’s also something I’ve not got a handle on betting-wise. If I do ok or better in 2011, I’ll go back to regular articles in 2012 [something for you all to look forward to].

    Anyway, back to Brazil, home of fantastic races and title-transforming results. Only Alonso can win the prize in Brazil, but many others could lose it. Theoretically, it’s still a five horse race, though Button is unlikely to be a contender come Sunday evening.

    P1 saw Red Bull dominance. Vettel had half a second on Webber and Hamilton, and was a full second ahead of 4th-placed Button, who was followed by Kubica, Rosberg, Barrichello, Schumacher, Sutil and Heidfeld. The Ferraris seem to have been dicking about in this session.

    P2 saw a similar but less pronounced result. Vettel was a tenth up on Webber and three-tenths ahead of Alonso, who was a similar margin ahead of Hamilton (closely followed by Massa). After Massa was Kubica, Button, Heidfeld, Rosberg and Schumacher.

    From this point, it looks like Vettel’s pole to lose [then again, it was in Singapore and he lost it]. Rain is slightly probable for qualifying. Last year, bad luck and dire weather terminated Vettel’s title hopes as the qualifying Wunderkind suffered a calamitous Q1 dropout. Rain this year could massively jumble things up.

    I won’t bore you with all the permutations of the race and what it means for the title, but here are some basics to watch out for:

    Vettel must beat Alonso, or his challenge is over.
    Hamilton beating Alonso is almost as good for Red Bull as it is for himself.
    Button pretty much needs to win to have any hope of keeping the title.

    Glad I don’t have to call this. If I did, I’d perhaps back Alonso at 8.6. Vettel’s 2.4 is tempting, Webber’s 3.7 isn’t particularly. Hamilton stands an outside shot.

    My forecast is for a Red Bull front row lockout, with Alonso and Hamilton on row 2. Watch out for Kubica, Button and Massa trying to get in the way. Massa especially has a point to prove.

    The pre-race piece will also be late, as I’m out for most of Saturday.

    Morris Dancer

    Sunday, 24 October 2010

    Korea: post-race analysis

    I slept in [for the second race running] and missed the start, only to discover that my tip had been rendered impossible by the elements. Oh well. F1 is very prone to random events steering things [weather, mechanical failure, being hit by an idiot driver, pit stop woe etc].

    The race really took a long time to get going, and I thought the safety car was out too long after the restart. However, once it went in there was a pretty fantastic debut for Korea. My prediction of many thrills and spills was spot on. There were numerous overtakes, including a surprising but good one by Schumacher on Button, a number of crashes, most notably the Webber-Rosberg incident, and mechanical breakdowns too.

    I feel tremendously sorry for Vettel. He was fastest in qualifying, fastest in the race, led from start to finish and then, yet again, his car failed him. He should’ve won the first three races of the season, and did not because the Red Bull was as reliable as an English football team taking penalties.

    Even worse, this meant Alonso, the only man of the quintet competing for the title I do not want to win, got the full 25 points. Lucky swine.

    Hamilton had a mixture of fortune and skill to thank for his very welcome second place. He’d been passed by a talented Rosberg [the Mercedes really did thrive on the new circuit], but then Rosberg had his race ended when Webber made an error, spun and collided with the Mercedes. However, Hamilton’s tyres were terribly degraded at the end, and it was only a hefty margin he’d built up over Massa that allowed him to still take second.

    Schumacher had a great race, passing Kubica and then Button and taking a deserved and season’s best fourth place.

    Button had a terrible weekend. Bad driving, bad tyre degradation, bad luck changing tyres sixteen seconds before yet another safety car came out meant he came a pitiful 12th out of 15 survivors. Mathematically he could yet retain his title, but realistically it is over.

    So, a fantastic weekend for Ferrari, mixed for McLaren and absolutely dire for Red Bull. Vettel’s made a number of cock-ups this year, but no-one else has suffered such shocking reliability failings.

    Interestingly, the driver’s title is not the only one now in play. With Red Bull failing to score and Ferrari getting a pair of podiums (podia?) the constructors’ is also becoming tighter.

    First up, the driver’s stand as follows:
    Alonso 231
    Webber 220
    Hamilton 210
    Vettel 206

    Red Bull 426
    McLaren 399
    Ferrari 374

    We have just two races left. The fantastic Interlagos, and the glamorous dog turd of Yas Marina. Interlagos was excellent [in terms of the race on its own] for Red Bull last year. Webber won in 2009, having qualified second. Vettel had a hellish qualifying, struck by bad luck [yet again] due to awful weather and bad timing but fought through the field from 16th to 4th.

    Yas Marina debuted last year and saw a Red Bull 1-2 (Vettel winning), but Hamilton had pole and car issues forced him to retire well before the end.

    Can Alonso be stopped? I bloody well hope so. It’s certainly the case that an 11 point lead is nowhere near enough to guarantee the title. McLaren brought some updates to Korea [aero stuff] that worked well, and Red Bull had a tasty race at Interlagos last year. There are four men with realistic chances of winning the title, and it’s too early to write any of them off.

    Sadly, for the third race in a row, I won’t be able to offer a pre-qualifying post with tips for Interlagos as that weekend I’m away attending to some personal business. I should be able to write the pre-race post, however.

    Morris Dancer

    Saturday, 23 October 2010

    Korea: pre-race

    Well, wasn’t expecting such Red Bull dominance in Q3, but they locked out the front row, Vettel scoring his 9th (I think) pole of the season. Importantly, the even side of the track is greener than an Irishman drowning in a vat of mushy peas, so that could be a real blow for Webber and Hamilton (2nd and 4th).

    Interestingly, the Ferrari was blisteringly fast in sector 1, which is basically a collection of big straights and slow corners. It was as much as a second faster than the Red Bull at times, and the McLaren was also relatively faster in the sector [as had been expected].

    The track seems to be one where overtaking will happen quite a lot, though it’s as new as a track can be so we’ll have to wait for the race to be sure. Going off-line will lead to very little grip, so that coupled with probably many overtaking attempts will see quite a few thrills and spills, I predict.

    According to the internet, the weather forecast for tomorrow is, er, ‘city not found’. The very basic F1 website forecast offers cloudy with rain, and the forecasts for Seoul [which, is must be said, is hundreds of miles away] is clear. Right.

    So, we have a quite exciting mix. Uncertain weather conditions, a track light on grip, especially off-line, and potential for lots of overtaking. The even side of the track would seem to be disadvantaged off the start.

    I backed Alonso at 6.4 to lead lap 1, he’s since lengthened to 7. My reasoning is thus: the even side is slower, probably removing Webber and Hamilton as serious possibilities. The Red Bull has been mixed at best in recent starts (although Vettel did well last time out) and the Ferrari has been super fast in the first sector which has overtaking possibilities anyway.

    Given the potential for a racing incident to turn things on their head [rain, crash, safety car] I’m less keen to bet on a winner. If you do, I’d either go for Vettel at 2.22 or Ferrari at 5 [bizarrely longer than Alonso’s 4.5].

    If Alonso had been longer I’d’ve backed him to win, and if Vettel were shorter I’d’ve laid him for the victory, but they aren’t and I haven’t.

    The forecast market is sadly not very liquid. There’s 3 available for Vettel-Alonso in 1st and 2nd but that’s far too short. A bit longer and it would’ve been tempting.

    So, a single tip: back Alonso to lead lap 1 at 7. The race starts at 7am UK time.

    Morris Dancer

    Friday, 22 October 2010

    Korea: pre-qualifying

    So, the race that hung by a thread is indeed going ahead. This is doubleplusgood news for McLaren for two reasons. Firstly, sector 1 is a large collection of straight lines, which will suit their car, equipped as it is with top notch straight line speed. Secondly, both their drivers are just about still in the title race but need the three remaining races to close the gap. If there were only Interlagos and Yas Marina left, it would be almost impossible for them.

    A week before practice started my eye was on the possibility of a McLaren pole. There are also two overtaking places in sector 1 (slow corners following straights) which bodes well for the Britons if they’re competitive.

    I backed Hamilton with small stakes at 8.2 for pole, and laid at 6.2 [which he fell to pre-practice]. He’s presently 4.7. Next season, I’m looking at possibly betting for qualifying pre-practice [if I can get a handle on how the cars’ particular characteristics interact with a given track and use that to buck the prevailing view on the market]. If I do go down that route and keep on writing articles for pb2 as well, I’ll offer pre-qualifying tips on the main site and reiterate them at the start of pre-qualifying articles [4 articles per weekend would be a bit over the top].

    As with Japan, Korea is in a bloody annoying place when it comes to timezones. P3’s at 2am and I am not getting up then to offer tips for qualifying. So, let’s look back at P1 and P2:

    P1 saw Hamilton top the timesheets. Even as a Hamilton backer I was moderately surprised to see this. He was very closely followed by Kubica, then Rosberg and Vettel. A half-second gap led to Button, Schumacher and Webber, with Heidfeld, Hulkenberg and Barrichello completing the top 10.

    P2 was quite different, with Webber fastest, then Alonso and Hamilton. The top three were followed by a 0.4s gap then Kubica, Button, Massa, Vettel, Petrov, Rosberg and Kobayashi.

    Without P3, a decent guide to qualifying practice, I’m not going to offer any tips at this stage. P2 tends to be when teams do heavy fuel running, and P1’s a sighter to spot any flaws with the car setup. P3 is the most telling.

    I’ve not read any reports of the track surface degrading, which is quite handy when cars are travelling at over 200mph. Rain is possible for race day but I’ll wait until writing the pre-race post before checking the forecasts.

    So, how do I see qualifying going? Almost impossible to say, given it’s a new circuit and between the two practice sessions there are 5 drivers in the top 3. If I had to guess, I’d go for Hamilton, still. I really should try and use the off-season to assess whether P1 or P2 has greater predictive power when it comes to pole.

    I think it’ll be tight between Hamilton, Vettel, Webber and Alonso [in that order], with Kubica a serious threat to them.

    The pre-race post will be sometime tomorrow [in the morning if possible].

    Morris Dancer

    Sunday, 10 October 2010

    Suzuka: post-race analysis

    Betting-wise, disappointing (rather a habit of late). Webber had the potential, he was two-thousandths up in sector 2 but cocked up the third sector. Vettel only beat his own time by seven-thousandths, so Webber had a chance, but failed [as did my tip].

    I also, brilliantly, didn’t wake up until after the race started and it was about lap 20 before I caught up with it. On the plus side, I definitely would’ve laid Vettel for the win, and he managed to convert his eighth pole to his second win of the season.

    Schumacher did well, though he should’ve been able to pass Rosberg and was fortunate when the latter’s car decided four wheels was one too many.

    Very disappointing for Hamilton. In 4th, he was catching Alonso at a great rate of knots, when his gearbox decided that third gear was some sort of optional extra and it stopped working. Due to a hefty margin, he was able to bring the car home in 5th, ahead of Schumacher by 20 odd seconds. Button was gifted the 4th but lacked the pace and was too far back anyway to do anything about Alonso, in 3rd.

    The Red Bulls were dominant at the front, and did not seem particularly troubled by anything. No reliability issues, plus they had quite a bit of time in hand.

    Now, I may be a bit too sleepy at the moment, but I’m pretty sure Kobayashi’s Sauber had a hard left rear tyre and all the rest soft at the end. No commentator remarked on it, so maybe I was mistaken, but I could’ve sworn I saw that. Anyway, he got 7th ahead of Quick Nick (who will quickly be leaving Sauber as a Mexican chap called Perez takes his seat in 2011).

    So, how does this leave the title race? Well-balanced, as it has been from race 1 onwards.

    Webber 220
    Alonso/Vettel 206
    Hamilton 192
    Button 189

    Both McLarens are now more than a win away from the leader. They need a tremendous race in Korea (assuming Korea even goes ahead). The next race is make or break for the Britons.

    Alonso was quick, but was lucky Hamilton suffered his second gearbox failure of the weekend, otherwise he may have been pushed down to 4th.

    Vettel and Webber were very close in performance terms, and both were ahead of the field by a decent margin. If this result were repeated at the next three races, Webber would have 275 points, but Vettel 281. Webber’s still in the best position, but he cannot afford to relax.

    The Constructors’ places seem more or less sorted, with Red Bull getting the title, then McLaren, then Ferrari. It could change, but I doubt it will.

    Morris Dancer

    Saturday, 9 October 2010

    Suzuka: pre-qualifying II

    Kudos (and lots of money) to anyone who predicted Alguesuari would top P3. Admittedly, he did it by being one of only two drivers who went sailing around Lake Suzuka in the rain (the other being Glock).

    The rain only intensified, and I woke at 6.45am to discover qualifying was delayed, then cancelled until tomorrow (2am UK time). So, this puts me in a tricky position. To bet on qualifying is to go without the handy guide of P3, and to bet on the race requires either getting up at around 2.30-3am to see Q3, or being brave/stupid/brilliantly insightful and betting pre-qualifying.

    Weather could be the key factor. If it’s very bright (unlikely) a Vettel/Webber duel seems likely, as I stated in my first pre-qualifying piece. Presently the forecast seems to be that qualifying will be clear but damp from the yet-to-drain rain, and the race dry.

    In the last 3 qualifying sessions Webber’s beaten Vettel in Belgium, been beaten by him in Singapore and beaten him in Italy. Past form in Suzuka is hard to assess because last year Webber didn’t start qualifying.

    I’ve decided to back Webber at 5 [he’s now 4.8, and I’d take anything over 4]. Set up a hedge at evens. He’s been roughly Vettel’s equal in qualifying generally, and in P1 was less than a tenth of a second off the pace. With the weather, there’s also the possibility of Vettel going off [and he’s been a bit suspect in qualifying recently, with a surprise second in Singapore and a frankly rubbish sixth in Italy.

    Unless it’s wet indeed, I still think a Red Bull front row likeliest.

    I’m undecided about a pre-race post. I’d like to write one, but I’d rather not get up at 2-3am. Stupid bloody Japanese weather.

    Morris Dancer

    Friday, 8 October 2010

    Suzuka: pre-qualifying

    Now we really are at the business end of the season. This weekend, F1 is in Suzuka. Inclusive, there are 4 races left, or 3 if Korea isn’t ready (a real possibility). After Korea (which is meant to be next) we have the fantastic Interlagos in Brazil, and then the glitzy but dull Abu Dhabi.

    Even at this late stage, all five contenders have a real chance. The McLarens desperately need big points to stay in the hunt, and Hamilton could do with not recording yet another DNF. Alonso’s got the momentum, and the smug bugger has named himself favourite [something Webber has refused to do].

    I’m writing this not just pre-qualifying but pre-P3, which occurs at 3am. So, this is a predictive article rather than a tipping one [I won’t be betting myself].

    P1 saw Vettel, Webber, Kubica followed by Sutil, Hamilton, Barrichello, Hulkenberg, Schumacher, Heidfeld and Rosberg. Vettel was less than one-tenth up on Webber, who was a full half-second ahead of Kubica.

    P2 saw Vettel lead a Red Bull 1-2, with Kubica third, then Alonso, Massa, Button, Petrov, Schumacher, Sutil and Hulkenberg. Vettel was four-tenths up on his best friend Webber, who was three-tenths faster than Kubica.

    P3 is the session that counts, but at this stage it looks like a Red Bull front row. Given the closeness of P2, a Webber pole is entirely possible, though a Vettel one is more likely. Be fascinating to see if Kubica can snag a third or fourth. He’s a great driver and has really punched above his weight during the season. With a good car under him he could be a champion.

    Interesting to see Schumacher both beating Rosberg and being in the top 10 in both sessions so far. If he replicated that in qualifying it would be a nice morale booster.

    Alonso and Massa were 13th and 11th in P1, but I think their 4th and 5th in P2 is likely to be more representative of their pace. McLaren may struggle to beat the prancing horse or Red Bulls, and if they do their challenge could be all but over. Still, races are bloody unpredictable (cf Turkey).

    So, here’s my prediction for qualifying: Vettel to get pole, joined by his team mate on the front row. Then Alonso and Kubica and on row three Massa and Hamilton. A Webber pole would not be a shock at all, but is less likely, I feel, than a Vettel one (that said, Vettel has been off the boil recently).

    Qualifying starts tomorrow at 6am.

    Morris Dancer

    Sunday, 26 September 2010

    Singapore: post-race analysis

    A bad qualifying prediction was followed by a bad race. Alonso and Vettel were a class apart, aided slightly by McLaren showing all the strategic brilliance of Crassus at Carrhae.

    On qualifying, briefly, I think I know why I’ve been getting it wrong lately. Earlier in the season, I spotted Webber’s improved qualifying, and backed him a few times and generally did ok. I’ve become a bit stuck in a rut expecting Vettel to do well and ignored Alonso’s recent excellence.

    The race was rain-free, and had a number of safety car appearances. It was processional rather than thrilling, and somewhat notable for the way in which I got everything wrong. Vettel suddenly decided to accelerate at the start, instead of putting the handbrake on, neither McLaren was anywhere near the leading pair, and neither Hamilton nor Button ever had a chance of winning. Meanwhile, Vettel decided the time for driving in the style of Dastardly & Muttley was over, and drove extremely well and consistently for second, behind Alonso.

    There were a number of crashes, including Bruno Senna, who got P3 yellow flagged at the end and slowed both McLarens as they exited the pits. Kubica had a great final few laps, passing numerous cars to finish 7th despite pitting twice.

    Massa climbed from last to 10th, and would’ve done better had the first safety car not compromised his strategy of pitting almost immediately. Barrichello didn’t feature much in the TV coverage but did get an unexpectedly good 6th.

    Hamilton’s DNF (did not finish) may prove critical. He was 4th at the time, behind Webber and ahead of Button. He’d just about passed Webber, but didn’t leave the Red Bull enough room. Webber had nowhere to go except into Hamilton, ending Hamilton’s race.

    Bit of a shocker of a weekend for me. I just checked my account and found that almost all my 2.5 lay for McLaren to win actually got matched. So, undeservingly, I made almost no loss on that tip, but obviously got Vettel wrong in qualifying and in the race. [I must admit I’m staggered anybody matched that, but that’s the point of hedging].

    For the title, things are still evenly poised, but the momentum is clearly with the world’s grumpiest man. Here are the contenders:
    Webber 202
    Alonso 191
    Hamilton 182
    Vettel 181
    Button 177

    And the Constructors’:
    Red Bull 383
    McLaren 359
    Ferrari 316

    Webber is still in a strong position, perhaps the strongest. Hamilton’s had a few DNFs lately, and I imagine they’ll end up costing him the title. Vettel’s excellent second is of great importance for two reasons. Firstly, he’s still in the fight. Secondly, because of that Red Bull will be unable to line up clearly behind Webber. If Vettel had smashed into a wall, Webber would be 39 points ahead. With so few races left the team may have had to back the Aussie wholeheartedly. As with McLaren, Red Bull must continue to try and back both drivers, whereas Alonso is clearly Ferrari’s only hope.

    Were it not for Hamilton’s retirement the Constructors’ would still be very close. As it is, Red Bull are looking decent favourites.

    The next race is Japan, in a fortnight. P3 ends at 4am, and qualifying starts at 6am. Undecided as to whether I’ll do a pre-qualifying post containing tips.

    I’ve really enjoyed this season from a fan’s perspective, but my tipping has been pretty woeful. I’ll wait and see how the final few races pan out before deciding whether to do a similar series of posts in the 2011 season.

    Morris Dancer

    Saturday, 25 September 2010

    Singapore: pre-race

    Well, Vettel made one mistake all weekend, and brilliantly did it in Q3. Alonso got pole, with Vettel second. Then it’s Hamilton, Button, Webber, Barrichello, Rosberg, Kubica, Schumacher and Kobayashi.

    Massa had a gearbox failure in Q1, and starts last.

    I must admit I’d never have backed Alonso, so congratulations to Mr. Eagles on the sister site for getting that right.

    As of 6pm on Saturday, the weather forecasts aren’t that helpful, with showers possible. So, they need to be considered, but might well not occur at all.

    Hmmm. Recent starts have shown a slight pattern. McLarens have great starts, Ferrari ok starts, and Red Bull have developed a habit of leaving the handbrake on.

    I checked the two most recent races, and Hamilton and Alonso both have a win and a third place. Last year, Vettel got 4th.

    Also worth considering is Massa. He starts last, and the circuit isn’t great for overtaking. However, the Ferrari is a very fast car, and he may opt to get a new engine (he can’t be demoted to 34th for exceeding the 8 engine limit). With a very early or very late pit stop, he might yet spring a surprise.

    Had a quick look, and see little value with Massa. He’s only 1.8 to get points, and on a street circuit with many barriers, possible rain and little run-off that’s not very appealing.

    Of more interest is the 5.7 to back McLaren for victory. Starting 3rd and 4th, with possible rain, they may go for a split strategy in the event of precipitation, and Button showed earlier this year a very good feel for on-off rain conditions. In addition, I think it likely one or both Britons will pass Vettel at the start.

    I also think it’s worth laying Vettel for a podium at 1.46. He’s had poor starts recently and the two cars behind him have had good starts. Of the last 3 races he’s gone backwards in 2 of them.

    I’ll only be hedging the McLaren bet (at 2.5).

    Found this a bit tricky to call. On the other hand, I was pretty confident in Vettel’s pole until Q3, so maybe my doubts will prove more accurate.

    With any luck, the race will be a cracker, and we’ll finish ahead.

    Morris Dancer

    Singapore: pre-qualifying

    In the run-up to this race, McLaren were sounding bullish about improvements to their car after Hungary. They’ve had pretty good weekends at Spa and Monza [although only one car finished each race with a win and a second place] and will be very keen to see if they can match the Red Bulls in the latter part of the season.

    They also raised the issue of whether the new loading tests on the flexi-wing and floor of the Red Bull would damage its performance. This was hard to tell at the last two races because they followed a perfect circuit for Red Bull (Hungary) and Spa and Monza are not suited to the Red Bull. So, it was difficult to tell whether the performance drop-off was due to wing and floor alterations or just the natural contrast between a circuit the car loves and circuits the car loathes.

    Pre-practice weather reports suggest a likelihood of black clouds, heavy rain and lightning storms throughout the entire weekend. Sounds like fun.

    P1 was damp, and as such, not much use for learning who’s quickest. However, here’s the top 10: Webber, Schumacher, Sutil, Vettel, Alguesuari, Button, Liuzzi, Buemi, Kubica and Petrov.

    P2 was dry (mostly), but this session is the one where heavy fuel runs are done after a period of lighter fuel driving, so the times don’t necessarily reflect real pace. However, it is notable that the Red Bulls were miles ahead of their competition, Vettel 0.6s ahead of Webber, who was 0.4s ahead of Button, Alonso and Hamilton, who were all very close to one another. Following them were Barrichello, Massa, Rosberg, Kubica and Schumacher.

    P3 was disappointing, because the end was ruined by the pointless HRT of Senna yellow flagging the session and preventing almost everyone (save the Red Bulls and Alonso) getting in proper laps. The order was Vettel, Alonso, Hamilton, Massa, Rosberg, Webber, Hulkenberg, Kubica, Sutil and Buemi.

    Weather forecasts suggest a one in three chance of rain showers. My view is that if it’s dry Webber has no chance, despite him alone having a fresh engine. Likewise, Massa and Button, barring wet weather freakiness, have no chance of pole in my opinion.

    As has been the case recently, there are three chaps I believe have a good chance. Favourite is Vettel, then Hamilton, then Alonso. A problem is that Hamilton’s early timesheet-topping time was beaten by Vettel and Alonso (by 0.25s and 0.1s roughly) on a track that was rapidly drying and therefore naturally faster. Hamilton never really got a flying lap, yet still came third overall. It’s my judgement that he was better than Alonso and equal or just slower than Vettel.

    It’s extremely difficult for me to call. I do think Vettel is clear favourite for victory at evens, but there is no comparable Hamilton time. I’m going to tip Vettel at evens for pole.

    Morris Dancer

    Sunday, 12 September 2010

    Monza: post-race analysis

    A very interesting race, more tense than exciting, from my perspective. A very mixed bag regarding the tips. Button didn’t win, but came close enough to be laid. Alonso did fail to lead lap 1, so that came off. Hamilton’s kamikaze move on Massa meant a podium was impossible for him.

    The tension was enormous at the front for the first 30 odd laps. Button got the jump on Alonso at the start, which also saw Hamilton pass Webber (who went backwards rapidly, to about 9th). However, Hamilton’s cack-handed efforts with Massa saw his race end on lap 1. Button managed to keep Alonso behind him until the pit stops. McLaren moronically telegraphed their stop, Ferrari responded, held out a lap longer, and passed Button.

    The Red Bulls had excitement of a different kind. Webber slipped to 9th from the start and then fought through the field, eventually passing Hulkenberg, despite some chicanery, to get 6th.

    Vettel’s race was weird. He was 7th to Webber’s 8th, but suffered a temporary engine problem (during which he let Webber past). He then kept racing, and had his pit stop on the last lap to achieve a surprisingly good 4th.

    The race was incredibly important for the titles, most especially the Drivers’. After Monza, here are the top 5:
    Webber 187
    Hamilton 182
    Alonso 166
    Button 165
    Vettel 163

    With 25 points for a win, it’s incredibly tight. Webber really is in pole position, as the next 5 tracks are more Red Bull-friendly than Spa and Monza. Hamilton and Webber are a bit ahead of the other three, but it’s too close to call.

    For the Constructors’, it’s also very close, but will probably be a Red Bull win, with McLaren the closest challenger:
    Red Bull 350
    McLaren 347
    Ferrari 290

    A strange weekend. My pole tip was really off, first time for a while it’s been miles off, and I managed to be ahead on the race. Overall, with laying, a small profit was had. Without laying, it would’ve been red.

    There aren’t many races left now, just five (assuming Korea goes ahead). Spa and Monza saw Webber and Hamilton pull ahead, but the other three contenders have cut the gap down again.

    Morris Dancer

    Saturday, 11 September 2010

    Monza: pre-race

    Blimey. I got back to discover not only was I enormously wrong, with Vettel sixth and my lay umatched, the entire top six seemed jumbled up.

    Alonso snatched pole, with Button second, then Massa, Webber, Hamilton and Vettel. The top 10 was completed by Rosberg, Hulkenberg, Kubica and Barrichello.

    Red Bull must hate Monza, it’s the first grid for ages when they haven’t been on the front row. Staggered Vettel wasn’t closer to pole. Next year, I’ll have to bear this in mind.

    For the title race, this is tremendously exciting. The two strongest contenders are 4th and 5th, two slightly adrift are on the front row, with the third adrift fellow sixth. It looks like the race could be pretty tasty.

    Caught up with a little of the BBC coverage, and it seems like Button’s gone for downforce over raw straight line speed, which could give him the advantage in breaking zones, for overtaking, and make it easier on his tyres. It certainly proved a better choice than Hamilton’s, which sees the title leader half a second down the road from Button.

    The weather’s going to be nice and sunny, so the weather shouldn’t play a part.

    I’ve decided to go for a trio of bets this time around. Firstly, I’ve laid Alonso to lead lap 1 at 1.46. I think both Button and Massa will be very keen to get ahead and stand a decent chance.

    Secondly, I’ve backed Button for the win at 4.7. He was doing very well at the somewhat similar circuit at Spa, with a broken front wing, before Vettel wrecked his race. He’s got good pace, and lower downforce will make it easier on his tyre and afford him overtaking opportunities.

    Lastly, I’ve backed Hamilton for a podium at 1.95. I imagine he’ll ice Webber on lap 1, and stands a decent chance of getting past Massa later on.

    Unusually, hedging will be at a minimum. For the first lap leader, it’s not really possible/sensible, and Hamilton’s odds are so short for the podium you’d need to lay at 1.1 or suchlike.

    Pretty shocked Vettel was so far down the road in qualifying. Let’s hope Button takes Alonso before the end of lap 1, and the McLarens have a great day out.

    Morris Dancer