Sunday, 28 March 2010

Australia: post-race analysis

A race of two halves. Entertainment-wise, a cracker, and the perfect antidote to the processional ocean of dullness that was Bahrain. Bets-wise, atrocious.

I’ve had a shocker of a start to the season, worse even than Michael Schumacher. I’m going to post a mid-week piece analysing why I’ve been doing so badly, to try and correct my mistakes (I’ve had a small measure of bad luck but the lion’s share of my bad tips have just been misjudgements/idiocy on my part). This post will focus on analysing the race and implications for the titles.

The good:
Button surprises just about everybody and storms the entire field. He had a minor stroke of luck with Vettel’s car helpfully exploding (yet again), but deserved the win by superb and seemingly effortless tyre management after brilliantly making the right call to switch to softs early on. Special congratulations to Mr. Tibs, whose excellent 22/1 suggestion to back Button I foolishly ignored.

Kubica held off the world and his dog to claim second, another real surprise and proof, were it needed, that he’s a class driver.

Massa, at a circuit he really isn’t at home, prevented the faster and much-fancied (including by me) Alonso from passing him to become the only chap to claim podium spots at both races so far, and stays second in the title race.

The bad:
Michael Schumacher continues on his mission to underwhelm on his comeback, claiming 10th spot. He struggled to overtake, whereas others had little difficult scything through the field. He needs to improve.

Vettel. Or, to be more exact, whoever is responsible for his car. Once again he was leading, looking good for the win and then his car let him down. Fast is nice, but you need to finish a race to get points.

The ugly:
Webber turns kamikaze on Hamilton, taking the Briton from behind, an event neither man enjoyed. Despite having the fastest car [which worked throughout the race] he manages to turn 2nd into 9th.

Hamilton severely disappointed in two ways. Firstly, whereas Button took responsibility and made the tyre call himself, Hamilton let the team do it, which would be fair enough if he hadn’t then had a hissyfit because he couldn’t pass Alonso. Secondly, Button stayed cool and calm and effortlessly held the tyres, Hamilton lost composure and couldn’t pass the Ferraris. Last season Barrichello had a similar outburst, but that was deeper into the season when he and his team mate were tussling for the title.

We’ve had two sorts of races so far; a complete procession, and a partially rainy lottery. This race was absolutely classic, and hopefully proof that whilst Bahrain was as exciting as an Alistair Darling Budget the dullness was due to the track, not the rules. Still need to see what a competitive and dry track (ie Interlagos without the rain) throws up.

Here are the driver standings:
Alonso – 37
Massa – 33
Button – 31

And Constructors’:
Ferrari 70
McLaren 54
Merecedes 29

It’s worth remarking that Vettel, despite being the best driver with the best car has, due to crippling reliability, just 12 points and lies 7th in the title race, with Red Bull tied on 18 points with Renault at 4th. Still happy to be green on Massa at around 10/1.

Things look good for Ferrari in the constructors’ race; their car is reliable and fast, and they’ve got two great drivers.

Next race is Malaysia, in just a week’s time. Last time out it was a complete washout and had to be halted partway through due to a monsoon flooding the track. Before that, as I said, I’ll try and identify precisely why my antennae are wonky and correct them. I loathe getting tips wrong, and two weekends in a row is not good enough. I’ll do my best to improve for Malaysia.

Morris Dancer


Lucian Fletcher said...

I don't think your calls were that bad, I just think you should have advocated saver bets on Betfair for the people in the front three rows on offer at silly odds.

Don't get downhearted! If anyone got all their bets right they would own all the money in the world. :)

Anonymous said...

I was lucky with this one, laying Vettel last night at 1.83. I thought the poor reliability coupled with the rain would make it very unlikely he would lead for the entire race.

For the championship I'm still green on Hamilton, though the MacLaren's need to imrpove their qualifying.

Morris Dancer said...

Thanks, Mr. Fletcher. However, it's a significant and stupid error to simultaneously point out rain makes it a lottery, then backing frontrunners when numerous persons spotted the obvious value in Button.

Nigel said...

>>the obvious value in Button.<<

Fair enough, but I think you're being a bit hard on yourself: there's a little bit of hindsight in that, too.

After all, it wasn't the weather that did for Vettel. Nor did it account for Alonso's mistake at the first corner when he turned in to Button and lost about ten places.

Button's call on the tyres was a gamble (though an inspired and justified one, as he could otherwise have been forced to wait behind Hamilton, who had track position and therefore priority, for fresh rubber).

Still, 22/1 for the fourth placed on the grid was generous, and we were both a little foolish to overlook it.

I don't think the weekend was quite as bad as you make out for Hamilton. Had Webber not shunted him, he was past Alonso, I think.
He goes away knowing (in his own mind at least, which is what counts) that he is faster around the circuit than his teammate. After all, he did pass him on the track.
He scored points - and Vettel didn't.
The Maclaren showed it has sufficient pace to win in the right circumstances.
So long as he doesn't fall out with the team over the tyre call, the positives probably just about balance the negatives.

Morris Dancer said...

Nigel, I don't think Hamilton could've overtaken Alonso. You're right Vettel's failure to finish was not rain-related, but the issues regarding his car's reliability were known.

I think you're right about a certain amount of hindsight coming into play. Still, I'd prefer to start providing winning tips :p

Nigel said...

Hi Morris,
I'm not sure. If you look at the replay of the incident, Hamilton was alongside, round the outside of Alonso, but then braked and cut across to go round the inside.
Alonso then locked his brakes bigtime, having gone very deep into the corner, so I'm not the pass wasn't on. A 50/50, maybe (absent the kamikaze Webber move).

Some classy and smart comments from Alonso about how Massa had no obligation to let him through, even though he was significantly faster. Alonso reckons his car was the fastest on the track.

Classy too of Martin Whitmarsh to take responsibility for the tyre call (though in his heart of hearts, I'm sure Hamilton knows it was his mistake as well).

If it's wet again in Malaysia, then winning tips will be difficult.

Morris Dancer said...

I'd not heard Alonso's comments, but those do point to a sound attitude, a reflection of his good relationship with Massa, maybe, as well as lessons learnt from McLaren.

Aye, if Malaysia is a monsoon again winners will be tough to call, but other markets may become more interesting (podiums, points, safety car etc). We'll have to wait and see.

Not seen a reply, but I recall the incident, and now you mention it Hamilton may've found a way through. Unfortunately Webber's brilliant Ralf Schumacher impersonation got in the way of finding out the truth of the matter.

Omnium said...

Webber perhaps pressured himself into having a poor race - perhaps his last season (?) and wanted to win at home.

I've not much in the way of Championship positions any more - My Force India bets have mostly been closed down and the only thing I have left is a modest bet on Rosberg, who incidentally I would still tip at around 40/1.

The teams don't have much time before Malaysia so I expect much of the same. Red Bull reliability being perhaps the most important factor to assess given that I imagine it'll be quite hot again.

Morris Dancer said...

I'm not sure how cool or hot Malaysia will be. It's 9am UK time, so it won't be (I think) the middle of the day and may well be very rainy.

Nigel said...

Rainy, and long straights... Maclaren worth a punt ?

(I'd give Vettel, Alonso and Hamilton a more or less equal chance in a wet race, but the latter's odds are currently double those of the other two.)

Morris Dancer said...

Possibly. Hamilton was not in good mental shape at Australia, and will have something to prove.

Vettel's a great rain driver, but his car needs to actually finish a race without exploding.

Button also did very well in Malaysia last year, in torrential conditions.

I'll also be bearing in mind Sutil and Barrichello. Both are pretty good in the wet, and are the best of the rest. With rain they may stand a chance of podium spots.

Jennifer said...

Just had a look at the weather for KL this weekend and there is an awful lot of rain out there! Last year the race was ended half-way through and half points were awarded so would the reliability of Vettel be an advantage this weekend if it finishes early again. Might mean as well that practices are a washout so difficult to pick. My feeling would be that Hamilton will be out to prove something this weekend with Button also feeling confident after a win at Melbourne and being the winner in Malaysia last year.

Morris Dancer said...

Hamilton is good in the wet, as is Vettel. Button was pretty good last time as well.

Hmm. In ye olden days, Schumacher was superb in the wet. He's been poor so far. Might be value if he's ridiculously long for a podium or points.

Incidentally, the midweek post I promised will be up soonish.