Saturday, 31 July 2010

Hungary: pre-qualifying

Based on recent races, here are a few little trends I think I’ve identified. Vettel and Webber have had poor starts of late, particularly in the last two races. The Red Bull remains damned quick in qualifying but its race pace is typically a little slower. The McLaren is the opposite of this. The Ferrari appears to be in good shape for both qualifying and race.

P1 was really about the Red Bulls being miles faster than everyone else. Vettel topped the timesheets, followed by Webber a tenth later. Third-placed Kubica was a second behind, then Button, Barrichello, de la Rosa, Alonso, Rosberg, Schumacher and Hulkenberg.

Vettel looking good for pole right now. In P2 the Red Bull was fastest by a long way with both light and heavy fuel. The McLaren was the opposite, slower than they would want to be in both light and heavy fuel conditions. The Ferrari is between the two.

In P2 the order was Vettel, Alonso, Webber, Massa, Petrov, Hamilton, Kubica, Hulkenberg, Button and Schumacher.

P3 saw Webber come first by about four-tenths, but he got in a proper qualifying simulation lap, and Vettel’s was ruined by tons of traffic. The order was Webber, Vettel, Alonso, Kubica, Massa, Hamilton, Petrov, Rosberg, Button, Hulkenberg.

I can’t see beyond a Red Bull pole. The problem is that whilst Vettel was fastest in P1 and P2, it’s the P3 qualifying simulation run that matters, and he didn’t get a clean run. In addition, the odds for Vettel and Webber are 1.8 and 2.5 respectively, which isn’t great.

So… the only other market for qualifying is who gets into Q3, or fails to do so. My reading is as follows: Red Bull are fastest, then Ferrari, then Renault, then McLaren, followed by Mercedes and Williams. Frustratingly, I can see some potential value (Hulkenberg and Petrov for Q3) but there isn’t enough money there at decent odds.

This is a bit rubbish. There are only two contenders for pole, and whilst there are interesting questions regarding who’ll make Q3, the only one with real liquidity is laying Button [don’t do this. I think he’ll make it comfortably].

So, much as I dislike giving short odds tips, especially when shooting half-blind, I’m going to back and tip Vettel at around 1.85 to get pole. He’s got several in a row now and consistently beat Webber when they were at comparable stages. He’s half a second down in P3 but that’s because he got a hell of a lot of traffic [plus Webber will have benefited from a speed boost due to the track rubbering in].

Morris Dancer

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