Well, one tip was right and one was wrong. If you managed to get on both of them then you’ll’ve made a profit. I was off the computer for the hour leading up to qualifying, so no idea if more money went on Massa for Q3. Ironically, if you backed the tips I decided against offering you would have made even more money.
In terms of entertainment, qualifying was absolutely fantastic and unpredictable. McLaren and Ferrari both made schoolboy errors by staying in for Q1, thinking the rain would pass, when it actually came down harder. All four cars from the two teams are near the back of the grid, with Button in 17th, and Alonso, Hamilton and Massa coming 19th to 21st.
But, where there are losers there are winners. The Force Indias both made Q3, with Sutil 4th and Liuzzi 10th. At the front of the grid is Webber, who topped the timesheets by a mile due to a cunning decision to use the intermediate tyre, followed by Rosberg and Vettel. All the top 10 were on wets, save Webber. Kubica and Barrichello came 6th and 7th.
A huge factor in the race will be rain (we saw the dramatic and game-changing effect it had in qualifying).
So, what are the forecasters saying?
Wunderground: 30-40% chance of a thunderstorm
BBC: heavy rain showers
Weather-forecast.com: rain showers
That’s identical to the forecast for the same time today (when qualifying occurred), so it’s highly likely there’ll be some rain, and Malaysia tends only to have heavy showers or persistent torrents. It also affects different parts of the track very differently; some areas can be dry, others can be very wet, making tyre choice and the risk of accidents more challenging.
I think a safety car is highly likely (could occur right at the start if the rain’s strong enough, during the race if it’s heavy or if any car goes off dangerously). Odds are an issue, I’d definitely back it at 1.6, maybe at 1.4.
It’s very hard to say how the race will go, as we don’t know whether it’ll be wet at the start, if it is who will benefit etc. I do think Massa will struggle to rise far, as he’s furthest back of the hot shots and he wasn’t exactly setting the world alight in practice. Alonso’s more aggressive but also wasn’t quite top notch in practice. I expect the McLarens and especially Hamilton to cut through the field like a hot knife through butter. However, the odds are not appealing (Hamilton 1.5 for points and 4.8 for a podium). Given the large amount of places they have to make up and the possibility of an error on a wet track or being hit by an accident I’m steering clear of any bet to do with the Ferraris and McLarens.
Rosberg tempts me. He was close to Hamilton in P1, just 0.002 seconds behind Vettel in P2 and further off the pace (half a second) in P3, but that may’ve been a fuel effect. He’s 8 for the win, despite starting second. So far this year he’s been steady rather than spectacular but hasn’t slipped down the grid or made any real errors. Both Vettel and Webber are scarcely over 3 for the win, whereas 2nd placed Rosberg is 8. I think that’s too long, and I’m going to back him.
I’ve had a quick look back at the two starts thus far, and Kubica has been aggressive both times, and overtook a couple of cars at the start of Australia. He’s 5.6 for a podium, longer than Hamilton, and I’m going to back that as well. It’s easy to forget that Kubica was the third challenger in 2008, and is a very good driver. In favour of both driver bets is the reliability problem Red Bull have been suffering, which hopefully will assist Rosberg and Kubica.
Of those, the most confident I feel about is the safety car, though, sadly, the odds are pretty poor. I’ve put half my usual stake on the two position bets (Rosberg to win, Kubica to get a podium) due to the difficult rain issue. I was considering sitting the race out, like Nigel, but even if all my bets fail I’ll still be ahead, and I’m not sure having regular tipping columns without tips makes sense.
That said, the rain makes this a very difficult race to call, so the cautious may prefer to sit it out.
So, let’s hope the race starts under a safety car, the Red Bulls take each other off during the restart and Kubica passes everyone except Rosberg. Regardless of the way that things play out, the race should be very entertaining and unpredictable.