Sunday, 30 October 2011

India: post-race analysis

Since Korea:

News has broken of a 10 year deal for a new Grand Prix in New Jersey, around the streets of New York City. I must confess to being less than enthused. I’m not a street circuit fan, and fear that a decent or excellent circuit (I hope it isn’t Spa) will end up making way for another money-spinning procession. There’s also the fact that we now have two Grands Prix in Spain and the US, but none in France and the brilliant Belgian GP has an uncertain future. Hopefully vile Valencia will be axed.

Qualifying summary:

Well, that shows the folly of tipping pre-P3 (my habit is to do so afterwards). Backed Hamilton for fastest Q3 time at 3.7 with a hedge set up at 1.6. Irritatingly, he had a great chance of [briefly, at least] getting the fastest time in the dying moments of Q3, but chose to pit. I think Vettel would’ve still gotten pole, but the lay may very well have been matched.

In Q1, strangely, Button had to go out and use/waste another set of the soft tyres (this time the compounds are soft and hard, yellow and white respectively) and he was also significantly off the pace at the sharp end.

Schumacher disappointed in 12th, but it’s probably a better place than 10th as he has more fresh tyres than he would have and can choose which tyres he will start the race with. Hamilton, Alonso and the two Red Bulls were all very, very close (Vettel did pull a 0.3s gap but that was partly because Hamilton aborted his final run. Not sure if the Ferraris/Webber did likewise).

The Ferrari has looked pretty good in practice, but the Red Bull is, apparently, the only car that can make the white tyres work quickly. However, given the very low levels of degradation and the yellow tyre’s speed advantage this may not be an enormous help in the race.

So, disappointed somewhat for a few reasons. Bad tip, obviously, but it may’ve been laid if Hamilton had completed his final lap (though it’s understandable why he didn’t).

Race summary:

A brand new circuit presents both a great challenge and opportunity for those of us betting on the sport. In commentary for qualifying it was remarked upon that the track doesn’t really have a clean side, and that, coupled with the enormo-straight in the first sector made me wonder whether or not Vettel would retain the lead. I also, unusually, checked the speed trap standings and found Vettel almost at the very bottom (the speed trap being near the end of the enormo-straight).

In the end I went for two tips, the only ones I ever really considered. Backed Alonso for the win at 8.6 (lay at 3), and laid Vettel to lead lap 1 at 1.42 (with a suggestion *not* a tip of backing him at long odds with a paltry sum, as I could see him getting passed but retaking the lead).

In the end, the race was disappointing in terms of both action and betting. Webber actually started alright, but he bottled/lacked the speed to try and pass Vettel but managed to hold up Alonso as well. Once Vettel had the lead he never lost it.

I thought my form had improved a bit after the mid-season lull but recently (admittedly at a brand new circuit and one that was used in the dry for the first time) it’s dipped again. After this article, perhaps next weekend, I’m going to write another piece examining why that is.

Back to the race. Schumacher continued his excellent starts, leaping to around 8th. Alonso buggered up the first corner, possibly due to Webber braking too early, and ended up 4th, whereas Button had a great start, passing first Alonso and then Webber on lap 1. Thereafter, the Briton was a permanent fixture in the number 2 slot.

Hamilton got passed by Massa at the start. In the latter half of the race, just for a change, the two decided to have a collision. Surprisingly, the Brazilian got penalised, and after the crash Hamilton (possibly in a car suffering damage) never threatened the Mercedes ahead of him and brought it home in seventh.

There was surprisingly little action at the sharp end. Quite a few passes and close battles occurred further down the field with Force Indias, Toro Rossos and so forth, but Vettel and Button proceeded serenely to another podium. The closest fight at the top of the field was between Webber and Alonso, with the latter passing the former at a pit stop and then retaining 3rd to the end. The Ferrari occasionally has bursts of excellent pace but was mostly slower than the Red Bull.

Schumacher, by staying out longer than his team mate, passed him during the last pit stop and claimed 5th, having started 12th. After Massa’s contact and subsequent penalty his day got a little worse when he thumped over the curbs and snapped his suspension, ending his race altogether. Perez did well to climb from 17th to 10th.

Hopefully next year there’ll be a bit less dust and more tyre degradation to encourage cunning plans and overtaking. Even more importantly, hopefully there’ll be some winning tips. Note for next year: the safety car never appeared despite quite a few collisions and off-track excursions. The track is often wide and the marshal did a good job of quickly clearing away beached cars and so forth.


The lack of tyre degradation meant that, despite an apparently decent circuit layout, the race saw track position as a dominant factor, removing cunning strategy, effectively, as a serious option for winning the race (contrary to the early races of the season). I’ll comment more on this in the next article, but given that Abu Dhabi has been very processional, this may play a big role in the next race (NB Yas Marina has been modified to encourage overtaking for this season).

Hamilton was again off the pace. After the collision that could be due to damage, but he followed up a poor start with a lacklustre performance. Button, meanwhile, is clearly the second best driver at the moment. Alonso has the skill but his car is simply not good enough, and Webber continues to drift backwards through the field.

Mercedes: Schumacher’s been more impressive than his team mate for a few races now. I really, really hope they can produce a podium- and race-winning car next season, both to challenge Red Bull and so that we get a good intra-team rivalry.

Pretty disappointed with this weekend, but philosophical. Gambling is, after all, inherently risky, and it’s a new circuit. I’ve made some mistakes but I think I can see some lessons in them.

Abu Dhabi and Brazil are the only remaining races. As I said above, Abu Dhabi has been ultra-processional since it started hosting GPs a little while ago, but has been altered to try and boost overtaking. This will be critical when assessing bets (including for what happens if cars get stuck behind a slower driver following a poorly timed pit stop). Interlagos, by contrast, is spectacular, with overtaking eminently possible.

So, this has been a bad weekend, but there are two more to come and opportunities to make up for the disappointing performance at India. Before the Abu Dhabi race I’ll put up an article examining recent poor tips, and hopefully draw some useful conclusions for the forthcoming two races. Abu Dhabu is 11-13 November and Brazil is 25-27 November.

Morris Dancer

Sunday, 16 October 2011

Korea: post-race analysis

Qualifying summary:

No tip offered, due to the timezone, and now I feel like a moron. Hamilton tempted me at 5, but I neither tipped nor backed it, and didn’t even mention it. I thought that the pace advantage was strictly wet weather, and whilst the gap did close I was wrong and missed a tasty triumph. Oh well.

Schumacher qualified in a relatively poor 12th, however, he was unfairly disadvantaged. The Pirelli tyre set he used was, unusually, out of balance and this caused a substantially vibration and cost him circa 0.9s. I hope he gets a new set for free, as, being 12th, he can obviously opt to change without penalty but he’s already lost out due to Pirelli’s mistake and he shouldn’t lose a set of supersofts because of that.

For the first time this year a Red Bull was not on pole. Vettel was two-tenths down from Hamilton, who seemed very emotional and was just keeping it all together instead of celebrating. Button got 3rd, Webber 4th, Massa again beat Alonso (5th and 6th), and they were followed by Rosberg, Petrov, di Resta and Sutil.

The run to turn 1 is pretty short. However, Coulthard suggested in commentary that the McLarens might have a long first gear which could cost them at the start but help them out during the race (I’m not well-informed enough to explain why that should be the case, I’m afraid). I’ll check out the first lap leader market, and see what odds Vettel is to lead.

Race summary:

The grid was ideally set up for an exciting race, but a bit of a bugger when it came to betting. In the end I backed Button for the win at 4.7, with a lay at 1.8.

From the main site: “I was agonising over betting on Vettel to lead lap 1 at 6.8, but decided against it after reading of the Vettel non-penalty and Button's relief.”

The race start was unusual as everyone predicted the dirty (even) side of the track would be severely disadvantaged. In truth, there was no difference whatsoever, and the long McLaren first gear didn’t hamper them at all either. Infuriatingly, Vettel did pass Hamilton on lap 1, using the very long straights to get a great slipstream, pass him and then be in the lead in the twisty section where passing is very hard. [Hopefully I’ll remember this for next year]. Meanwhile, Button was third off the line but got passed thrice on lap 1 and ended up 6th.

At the front, it was depressingly familiar. Vettel rode off into the sunset, his serene procession to victory disturbed only by the occasional effort to secure fastest lap (which he did on the final lap).

However, there was a tasty fight that lasted much of the race between second-placed Hamilton and Webber. Contrary to expectations the Red Bull actually had the edge on the McLaren throughout the race. However, Hamilton defended very well, and superior traction into the DRS straight prevented Webber being close enough to take advantage.

Button was aided by poor initial pits by the Ferraris and got out into 4th, where he was neither particularly threatened nor particularly threatening. After the race both McLaren drivers complained of understeer, suggesting the set-up was slightly wrong, perhaps compromising any prospect of victory.

Interestingly, Ferrari decided to let its drivers race. As a result, Alonso was held up by Massa for the first half of the race, stayed out longer with quick primes and managed to pass him at the pit stop stage. After that he was often the fastest man on the track and was very close to Button at the end. His comedy radio message “I give up” provided some entertainment near the end. The commentary team were undecided as to whether it was a cunning plan to try and lull Button into a sense of false security, or an unsubtle way of saying “Never, ever let Massa hold me up again, you clowns.”

Schumacher failed to finish due to being rammed from behind by Petrov (as it were), and Rosberg got passed by Alguesuari near the end, the pair ending up 7th and 8th. The Toro Rosso was pretty tasty all weekend, and was the only car faster in a straight line than the Mercedes.

Quite an entertaining race, slightly spoilt by the unchallenged supremacy of the newly re-crowned Weltmeister.

Also worth mentioning that tyre degradation was nowhere near as bad as feared, and what had been mooted as a possible 5 stop race turned into a 2 stopper, with very little pace difference between the supersofts and softs.


Bloody dire betting weekend. I can forgive myself the failure to go for the 5 pole bet on Hamilton, as I almost always bet just after P3. But I really buggered up the First Lap Leader bet. 6.8 was there for the taking. On the plus side, I’m so pissed off with myself for the error of judgement that I’m hopeful I’ll remember next year and not do it again.

The Button bet was reasonable, though wrong, but he never got close enough for it to even be laid. Just a rubbish betting weekend, really. The only plus side is that I didn’t go for other failed prospective bets I was considering (Schumacher at 3 for top 6 and Hamilton-Button to be top 2 at 3.25). The rocky second half of the season continues.

In non-whinging news, Red Bull secured their second Constructors’ in a row, which was not very surprising. They have had the best car, but I think Vettel may be an even bigger asset than Newey, judging by the advantage he’s had over his team mate. Next year there are few regulation changes, for once, so hopefully it’ll get closer at the front and Mercedes can offer a car capable of podiums or the odd victory.

So, the preantepenultimate race has not been a happy one for me. The antepenultimate race takes place in India in a fortnight. P3 ends at 7.30am (bit weird for a half hour finish) so I may be able to offer a qualifying tip, or two. Let’s hope it’s a bit more profitable.

Just checked the Indian circuit diagram. After the start, which is quite long, there’s a very long straight, so that could enable two opportunities for passing (or, for the leader to re-take first position if he gets dropped to second off the line) and could be a rare case of hedging a First Lap leader bet making sense. I’ll consider it nearer the time.

Morris Dancer

Sunday, 9 October 2011

Japan: post-race analysis

Qualifying summary:

No bets offered for this, as P3 was from 3am to 4am and I didn’t get up to watch it and bet.

The first two practice sessions were notable for a few reasons. Firstly, Vettel outpaced Webber twice, suggesting he’ll get pole without serious challenge. Secondly, Button (who has been driving very well of late) beat Hamilton twice, and, last and probably least, the Williams’ drivers took three out of four opportunities to finish a session due to crashing or mechanical failure.

Qualifying was defined by the reluctance of the teams to use up their tyres. They’re all afraid of significant tyre wear, which may hamper some teams (Mercedes, alas) but help others (Ferrari).

Q1 was notable for Rosberg failing to get out at all and therefore starting 23rd. Button very narrowly missed out on pole to Vettel, and I feel Hamilton may have taken it had he not fallen asleep during his out-lap and missed the boat. They line up Vettel, Button, Hamilton, Massa, Alonso, Webber, Schumacher, Senna, Petrov and Kobayashi.

Race summary:

I’d offered an early tip (after P2, pre-P3) on Schumacher to get a top 6 place at 2.75, with Ladbrokes. Rosberg going out in Q1 was handy, but high tyre wear was not. I also offered what I consider a single tip for Button or Hamilton to win (I avoided the McLaren to win bet because the odds were less favourable and advocated splitting a single stake to give equal profits for either McLaren driver to win) at 4.9 and 5.9 respectively, hedges at 1.4 each. Because of the nature of the bet I’m considering the Button-Hamilton bet to be a single tip rather than two.

At the start Vettel decided to emulate Herr Schumacher and introduced Button’s tyres to the grass as he pushed him wide, enabling Hamilton to nab second. Surprisingly, the Ferraris did not start as well as we’ve grown used to, and Schumacher made up a single place, largely due to Kobayashi having a dire start.

The first few laps were displeasing, as the top cars all seemed to develop a few seconds between themselves, and I was worried it would turn into a procession with sizeable gaps between frontrunners. Happily, I was wronger than the thirteenth Duke of Wrongcaster.

Hamilton suffered a puncture, freeing Button into second and necessitating an earlier than desired pit stop. Shortly thereafter Button made his tyres last better than Vettel, who pitted first, and managed to reduce the gap to the World Champion Elect during the initial pit stops.

As has become customary on these occasions Hamilton and Massa were scrapping over a place and there was contact. It was nothing serious, but a pointy bit of carbon fibre littered the track and, some laps later, prompted a safety car to appear.

After another pit stop Button emerged ahead of Vettel, who had suffered bad traffic when he rejoined the track. All the top chaps except Schumacher had pitted twice when the safety car came out, and the wily old German ducked into the pits and got almost a free stop.

Button seriously backed up the pack when the safety car came in and then bolted, adding a healthy half second to his advantage over Vettel. By the time (2 laps later, as per the start) DRS was re-enabled he had over a second lead.

Then came the third and final stops. As Schumacher pitted last he led the Grand Prix whilst the others pitted, and his team-mate helpfully held up Massa long enough for the necessary lead to be built. Schumacher pitted and came out in 6th, ahead of his former Ferrari team-mate. Although the gap was always small fresher tyres and the mighty Mercedes top speed meant Schumacher held onto the place until the end.

At the front, meanwhile, Alonso had come out ahead of Vettel. For many laps the German, not content with a mere third place, sought to pass the Spaniard. However, traffic issues (provoking a shaken fist of disgust from Vettel) put paid to any serious hopes of getting second. Worryingly, Alonso then started closing on Button, who benefited from the Ferrari and Red Bull tussle.

Happily, the Briton decided he wanted to win after all, sped up a little bit and got the victory by a small margin.

I’d put the Button-Hamilton tip down to sound judgement, and the Schumacher one down to pure luck.


After some lacklustre results since the mid-season interval I can’t complain about getting two from two. That said, I did consider backing Alonso for a podium at 2.7 but thought the Ferrari incapable of such a feat versus the McLarens and Vettel.

Regarding my longer term bets (Button top 3 and Alonso/Hamilton to finish 2nd) this result is pretty helpful. I’m green either way due to cautious hedging, but right now the former seems quite likely and the second is not yet impossible.

The race was interesting for a few reasons, one of which was the divergence within teams between drivers. Button, Alonso and Vettel had good races, but Webber never threatened a podium, Hamilton was clearly inferior to Button, and Massa was well off the pace.

Now that the title race is over it’s worth saying that it has not been the most thrilling, especially in the wake of the fantastic 2010 season. Vettel has crushed his opposition with ruthless ease.

However, individually, the races have been almost uniformly excellent. Yes, Valencia was as much fun as a distressing bowel movement and Singapore was less than super, but we’ve also had some truly epic races. China was thrilling and Canada was perhaps the finest race I can recall seeing, with the truly glorious (and profitable) victory for Button.

Bit early for 2012 season thoughts, although I would say that Alonso may be best placed to challenge Vettel as he enjoys number 1 status at a rival team.

Betting-wise, it was better not to hedge. Assuming £10 stakes you would be a whole £4 better off.

The next race is Korea in just one week’s time. I hope it isn’t quite as soggy as last year.

Morris Dancer

Monday, 3 October 2011

Mark says it was the women, I am not so sure

In today's lead article on, Mark Gill contends that it was women who denied the Conservatives an overall majority in the election last year. I however wish to contend that actually it was men who denied Cameron a majority.

After the election in May 2010, I found data referring to exit polls going back to the October 1974 general election and was amazed at how much information there was as it not only showed the national exit poll, but how the genders voted, but the ages and the social classes and by using the calculation for swing several election mysteries began to make sense.

Why did Labour do so badly in 1983?
In the 1983 general election, there was a national swing of 5% from Labour to Conservative. This swing was repeated evenly among the genders,  but not quite so evenly among the ages. There was only a 4% swing in new voters, a 3% swing in second and third time voters, but a 6% swing in the older voters. But what really did it for Labour in 1983 was the 4% swing to Conservative in their traditional class, the DE's, In October 1974, this class recorded a 57% Labour vote, in 1983 it was only 41% with most of the change in support going to the Alliance.

Why did the Conservatives win in 1992?
A 2% swing to Labour in 1992 was nowhere near the swing that Labour needed even for a hung parliament. Men recorded a 4% swing to Labour (hung parliament), Women recorded a 1% swing (Con maj) but the real problem was the famous C2's. The voters who were able to make seats such as Basildon change hands didn't swing as much. Labour only managed a 3% swing which explains why seats like Southampton, Itchen was a Lab gain but Basildon was a Con hold.

So why didn't Cameron gain an overall majority in 2010? Well, the national swing was 5% to Conservative. Men recorded the national swing, but women did better recording a 6% swing. If anyone denied Cameron an overall majority it was the first time voters. Compared with 2005, Labour fell by 7%, the Conservatives rose by 2% (a 5% swing) but it was the Liberal Democrats who rose by 4% (indicating a 1% swing from Con to Lib Dem) who puts the brakes on a Con overall majority and might also explain why as soon as the Liberal Democrats broke their tution fees promise the Liberal Democrat vote has collapased to 1979 levels (and lower in some polls)