Well, that was the worst qualifying prediction for a while. Not only wrong, but so far out it couldn’t be laid. Oh well.
I did, however, get the fact that the Red Bull qualifying stranglehold would be broken right. Speculation regarding two stop strategies also seems like it might prove true, but I didn’t expect the Red Bulls to go out on the hard tyres (I believe all others were on softs). Martin Whitmarsh, McLaren bigwig, suggested most/all teams would be two-stopping, regardless of their starting tyre.
This presents a hitherto unknown situation under the new rules. Both tyre types degrade quickly. The softs are significantly faster when working well, but can degrade ultra-quickly. However, the hards seem unlikely to be able to hold up for 90% of the race, meaning a single stop may not be the best option.
A further complicating factor is the high likelihood of a safety car. Canada is a bit like Monaco, in that there are few run-off areas but lots of big concrete barriers. If there’s a first lap safety car (entirely possible, if there’s a nice big crash early on) then the soft tyre cars will benefit, because they’ll just be able to trundle around without their tyres eroding in a few laps. No safety car (or a brief one) may make an early pit stop a necessity for the soft tyre cars, putting them behind any hard tyre runners (and, as we know, all cars outside the top ten can opt for any tyre) and slowing them down whilst the front-running hard tyre cars (Vettel and Webber) scamper off into the distance.
Weather-wise, we’re looking at this:
Wundergound: 40% chance of showers in the afternoon
Weather-forecast.com: some clouds
So, probably dry, with some chance of precipitation. That probably removes one complicating factor.
Anyway, I tried sleeping on this. Wasn’t all that helpful, to be honest. There is likely to be a safety car early on. If so, this will assist the softy Walters, preventing them from being passed and enabling them to use their soft tyres for longer without needing a pit stop [obviously the advantage depends in how long/frequently the safety car is out]. If there is no safety car (or a brief one) soon after the start, then we’ll see early pit stops, putting the soft starters further back, behind those outside the top ten who opt to start on hard tyres. The question is whether they’d be stuck forever, or for a long time, or whether they’d be able to pass swiftly.
Something else that must be remembered when betting is that in the last three races (2006-2008) Canada has seen a substantial number of retirements (about eight, on average), to a combination of accidents (with the concrete barriers making most mistakes terminal in race terms) and mechanical failure.
I found this tricky, and then had a look at the lap 1 leader market. I have, rarely, had a little punt here but never tipped it as it’s too risky [my sole bet on it this season lost]. However, I went to the BBC F1 page and watched the race highlights of Turkey and Monaco and they showed the Red Bull always starting well, with 3rd placed Vettel passing to take 2nd [Webber was 1st both times and kept it]. Unfortunately, there aren’t any earlier videos. This is, I believe, due to the lighter fuel load of the Red Bull due to a more efficient [if slower in a straight line] Renault engine. The straight to corner 1 is very, very small, a car that overtakes at the start will not be passed until, at the earliest, the 7-8 straight. (Circuit diagram is here: http://www.formula1.com/races/in_detail/canada_831/circuit_diagram.html).
I advocate backing, with small stakes, Vettel and Webber to lead lap 1 (at 14.5 and 7.2 respectively), which represents better value [I think] than laying Hamilton at 1.3. It can be argued Vettel’s better value, due to being on the clean side of the track, but it’s hard to say how much that’s worth. Rather obviously, this is not the sort of bet that can be laid, with the exception of a short odds intra-lap one lay.
I’m also backing Vettel to win the race at 5.7. I think the hard tyres for Red Bull gives them an advantage over the McLarens, who may be forced to pit very early, getting stuck behind traffic and letting the Red Bulls get a comfortable margin. In addition, I think Vettel really has something to prove, and has the clean side of the track to pass Webber and maybe Hamilton. Personally, I’d put more on this than the lap 1 bets. I also think it’s the case that Red Bull are more tactically astute than McLaren. Should Vettel lead or look like winning I’ll lay this bet, as accidents can happen (as at Turkey) and the circuit does tend to break cars.
Must confess to being nervous about this race. The first time ever we’ve had different tyres used under this system, so it’s damned hard to see how it will play out. I really hope they bring back refuelling next season. Not worked out my season cumulative profit/loss [I suspect it’s mildly green] but it was markedly better when refuelling strategies were in play.