Friday, 5 August 2011

Mid-season review (betting):

This season has, in many ways, been the exact opposite of 2010, my first full season of tipping. Although both started badly, 2010 was worse. Last year I was good at qualifying and pretty rubbish at races, this year, the reverse is true. (After Hungary if you bet on every tip I offered, without hedging, qualifying would yield a net gain of £17.15, with races putting you ahead £113.19). Overall, this is much better than the broadly flat first half of 2010, but for reasons I shall explain later I’m not entirely happy.

Another reverse relates to hedging. For those unaware, hedging means that when you back somebody doing something (say, Vettel getting a podium) you then set up a lay (betting against them doing that something at much shorter odds) on the reverse. The theory is that, because F1 is especially prone to randomness, unpredictability and woe, people will often get close to something but ultimately fail. Unfortunately, and in very stark contrast to last year, hedging has been better at only one race (Monaco). If you bet and did not hedge on every one of my tips (with a £10 stake) you’d be up £130.34 for the season so far, but with hedging this would be just £73.84. That’s a pretty enormous difference and the rather splendid graph below will show how this worked race-by-race.

So, why hasn’t hedging worked in 2011 when it was very good in 2010?

Obviously the answer must be one of the many differences this year. One obvious candidate is the excellent level of reliability, particularly after the first few races. We’ve also, generally, had good weather. When we haven’t (Canada, Britain, Germany) I’ve generally done ok but lost through hedging things that actually happened. In Canada, I backed McLaren for the win, and it was on the final lap Button got the lead, in Silverstone, Alonso was very fast indeed and got the wine.

Essentially, I’ve been more accurate in the race than I thought I would, and in qualifying I’ve either been right or, more often, so hugely wrong the hedge never got taken.

I’m going to try and modify my hedging approach a bit, perhaps suggesting it slightly less often or at shorter odds. I’m a cautious gambler by nature, but this clearly isn’t working well in 2011.

We’ve had 11 races so far, and around half of them have been neither here nor there in terms of winning/losing (with a loss or win of £10 or less). One was awful (China, where I managed to get 4 tips from 4 wrong) and two have been really quite splendid (Spain and Germany). I am glad to be better at races than qualifying, as that’s more profitable, but also a bit disappointed that I had a terrible race in China and around half of them (including the Hungarian Grand Prix) didn’t really yield much of a result.

Favourite race: Canada

The longest F1 race this season and, indeed, in every season of F1 to date. Over 4 hours, with more time spent under a rain-induced red flag than racing. By lap 41 the sole McLaren (my tip being for them to win) was 21st of 21 remaining drivers. By lap 69 Button was 2nd. On the final lap Vettel made a mistake and Button won. Bloody exciting race ending with a tiny overall profit but huge relief.

Most profitable race: Germany

Odd race this. I felt unusually confident about every tip, which was fair enough as they all came off, but rather flat afterwards. Not sure why, but having made a puny £3 odd at Hungary I much prefer the flat but profitable sort of result. At this race I thought it clear that Webber a good chance of nabbing pole, but didn’t reckon on Hamilton’s great performance. This switched my thinking from Alonso to the Briton for the win and the drop-off in Red Bull performance ensured Vettel failed to get a podium for the only time in the first half of the season.

Favourite tip/bet: McLaren to win Canada

I’d buggered up qualifying (as usual) with two failed tips, and my single race tip was looking as forlorn as a lonely puppy. In the rain. With three legs. Happily, Button decided the time was ripe for the greatest F1 victory for quite some time, and it came off.

Three articles or one per weekend?

This season, I changed my approach from 3 articles (pre-qualifying, pre-race and post-race) to just the one after the race, with tips offered on the main site. How do people think this working? Would my loyal readership (both of them) prefer me to revert to the 2010 system?

Despite getting hedging wrong and needing to improve qualifying in particular, the start to 2011 has been notably better than 2010. The next race is Spa, with race day on the 28th. I anticipate this being tricky for the Red Bulls, but we’ll have to wait and see. Unlike some circuits (yes, Valencia and Bahrain, I mean you) it’s a great track and should produce a fantastic race.

Morris Dancer

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