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


Peter from Putney said...

Here's a little quiz question for you. Who posted this on PB2 just under a week ago about the 2010 F1 Championship:

"The current odds for the protagonists are:
Alonso 0.86/1 with Betfair
Webber 1.8/1 with Paddy Power
Vettel 10/1 with bet265 or Stan James

You pays your money and you takes your pick, Vettel looks to have the beating of the other two and imho is the value bet, but can he win by the required margin? That's a very tough ask of him? Good luck to you all."
7 November 2010 23:27

Wow, a 10/1 winner! Probably the finest F1 tip of the season.

Here's a clue: modesty prevents...

Morris Dancer said...


Well, I hope you're a regular commenter on the 2011 threads.

Obviously I could point out now that in 2009 I tipped Button at 70/1 to win the title, but that would be showing off, so I won't.

Peter from Putney said...

Fair dues Morris - that was truly a Smithsonesque performance by you, in fact comfortably exceeding OGH's, ahem, barely mentioned triumph on Obama.

Morris Dancer said...

True, but I wish I had a 10/1 shot come in this season (I came closeish with similar odds on Kubica getting pole in Monaco and Alonso, er, somewhere else) but didn't manage it.

The Button tip was odd, because it was so obvious. In practice Brawn had outpaced all other cars all the time by a huge margin. I just wish I'd backed my own tip. Still, we live and learn. I very much doubt there'll be such a situation next year.

SthLondon Nick said...

Hi MD,

Thoroughly enjoyed your posts during the race season. I am - though - going to disagree on one point. I thought Webber had been the slightly more consistent driver this year and has done well considering he was clearly second to Vettel. Don't get me wrong, he performed badly in the final race, but for the way he has conducted himself, especially consdering his injury last year, I had hoped he would win. Feels odd, supporting an Aussie, but there you go. Only a few weeks and off we go again!

Omnium said...

Thanks for your work this season MD. After spending a lot of time pre-season looking at matters I unfortunately was pre-occupied for most of the actual running. (My betting suffered too.)

I don't really agree with you that the season was 'fantastic'. There were many good points, but the aerodynamics continue to spoil things.

Schumachers accident also showed how far from safe we really are. A slightly different angle for the FIndia and he'd have perhaps died. Although I love the sport I believe that we need substantial change.

Morris Dancer said...

It's impossible to have 100% safety. With an open cockpit, there will always be some danger, alas.

Thanks for the kind words. The racing review is more or less done, I'll probably post it this week or at the weekend. The other ones (predictive and betting) will take longer, because there's number crunching involved.