My early thoughts (writing this the day after the Italian GP) are that Ferrari and Alonso may be faster than many expect in Singapore. The Ferrari has suffered on the medium compound white tyres at the last two races, as it’s not very quick at getting heat into them, leading to less grip. However, Singapore is using the soft and supersoft compounds. This will get rid of the heat issue (I think) and may also give a real advantage as the Ferrari is kind to its tyres. By contrast, tyre-shredder Webber and the Mercedes may suffer. If this proves accurate, it’ll be more of a race issue (if the race is dry) than one for qualifying.
Unusually for a normal(ish) race in terms of practice and qualifying times I decided not to offer any tips. In my view Vettel was rightly favourite at 1.45, but the odds were too short, and (his laps being largely compromised by traffic) it was very difficult to accurately assess pace at the sharp end. I did look around for other tips, but there was nothing that caught my eye.
Practice was notable for the first session losing 38 minutes due to bizarre incompetence by the race organisers, as numerous bits of curb were unsecured. As a result, some parts have been removed, enabling drivers to take a wider line, albeit at the risk of introducing their car to the wall.
Practice saw, generally, the Red Bull fastest over a single lap, followed by McLaren then Ferrari, but Alonso marginally faster than Vettel and substantially quicker than the McLarens when it came to heavy fuel running. So, I expect Alonso to be on the second or third row come qualifying but with some opportunity to make up places in the race.
Well, this was two hours of tedium and woe. I backed Webber at 9.6 for the win (this lengthened to 12 before the race), as the odds were rather ginormous for a second-placed man, despite Webber’s bad starts of late. However, he decided to have yet another awful start, then managed to lose out at almost every pit stop and never challenged for the lead.
Vettel started well, retained the lead, and was only under threat briefly, when McLaren waited until the last 10 laps to get Button (also processing serenely to the podium) to have a go. Surprisingly, as both were on fresh option tyres, Button caught Vettel at a great rate of knots but the gap was simply too large to be reduced in the limited time available.
Hamilton started badly, then lost a wing in an altercation with Massa, then got a drive-through penalty because of the aforementioned contact, and did well to recover to fifth.
Webber had a bit of a disappointing race following another bad start, being held up repeatedly by Alonso and being unable to approach Button who consistently held second.
Alonso was fourth, hampered by a Ferrari that, contrary to expectations, chewed up its tyres whilst at the same time being not very fast relative to McLaren or Red Bull.
Other incidents of note include a great sixth place for di Resta, who has been impressive throughout the season, and Schumacher taking Perez from behind, losing his front wing (one can only imagine he has shares in the company that makes them, or is perhaps being sponsored to get through as many as he can this season) then ramming into the wall after a little airborne action.
The Renault was catastrophically poor. They got back-to-back podiums, I think, at the start of the season, yet finished 15th and 17th here (Senna again beating Petrov).
There were moments of excitement, quite a few passes, but the two leading cars were never under threat and it was more of a farcical slapstick than high drama. Not as bad as Valencia, but otherwise probably the most boring race of the season. I remain less than thrilled about street circuits.
Given my poor performance since the mid-season break I might write something trying to analyse and resolve any problem there might be.
I got the Webber tip wrong, obviously. However, almost all the other tips I considered (Alonso for podium or win, Button for the win, lay Webber for a podium) would also have lost. The only two exceptions were backing Button for a top 3 qualifying finish at 3.4 (didn’t tip because there wasn’t enough money available) and a safety car (it did appear, but the 1.2 odds were just too short). The only betting upsides are that I only offered one wrong tip rather than many, and that the result plays quite nicely for my preferred Top 3 Title contenders and Winner Without Vettel result (Button and Alonso, respectively, but marginally green whatever happens).
I really hated the odds for this. However, you can only bet on what’s there in front of you. We go to Japan in a fortnight, then the new Korean circuit, the debut at India, Abu Dhabi and the fantastic Interlagos in Brazil.
So, the next article will either be Japan in a fortnight, or a contemplative post in a week or so.