Friday, 23 March 2012

Malaysia: pre-qualifying

The FIA have, since Australia, reiterated that the Mercedes DRS/reverse F-duct is legal. I’m glad this is the case, as the Red Bull bitching in particular was rather hypocritical given how others viewed their flexi-wings and blown diffusers.

Malaysia’s Sepang Circuit is quite interesting, and should be a better guide to the season as a whole than Australia. It also has quite a lot of straights, and this should help the Mercedes, particularly in qualifying when DRS can be used more than the race. So, we may well see a better qualifying than race performance from the Silver Arrows. The gearbox issue which afflicted Schumacher has been identified and is apparently a one-off (they had sound reliability in testing). Of greater concern is rear tyre shredding, which they think they can mitigate somewhat, if not eliminate. [There’s an interesting analysis of the issue here:]

Malaysia will see the medium compound return and the hard compound (last year’s medium) make its first appearance in 2012. However, degradation may still be a serious issue for strategy as the race tends to be very long and the heat means that the tyres won’t last as long as would otherwise be the case. In P2 Radio 5 had a Pirelli chap, and he revealed that teams saw between 0.1s and 0.9s divergence in lap time between the two compounds. So, as in Australia, the prime tyre might be better for the race, as lost time is not too bad and durability could be more important. People who start in 11th and 12th may be well-placed.

There’s just one DRS zone, on the starting straight.

Last year Vettel and Button had a strong performance in Malaysia, and both also had good races in Australia. The McLaren driver was adept at pulling out a lead from both the start and restart, and staying beyond the DRS window of the following car, suggesting the McLaren is good at rapidly warming tyres. He’s also good at managing them (as Vettel was last and probably this year). Webber did not seem to suffer serious degradation in the race (unlike the early part of last year) but he still leaves the handbrake on at the start.

Lotus could be the most intriguing team to watch. One driver had a stellar qualifying, the other a strong race performance. However, I wonder if they’ll suffer slightly from the extremely hot, humid and prolonged nature of the Malaysian Grand Prix. If they could manage to qualify and race well the car may well be capable of getting a podium, perhaps slotting between McLaren and Red Bull. They had a good race last year, when Heidfeld got a podium.

The practice times are still rather anti-social, but qualifying’s at the slightly more civilised hour of 8am, and the race starts at 9am. I might try giving RTL coverage a go.

No qualifying tip (again, due to the time difference). I’d guess it’ll be rather closer between the McLaren and Red Bull, but the Lotus and Mercedes could also be in the mix.

P1: Hamilton was fastest, followed by Vettel. Then were the two Mercedes, Rosberg and Schumacher, followed by Grosjean, Webber and Raikkonen. The top 10 were rounded out by di Resta Button and Hulkenberg.

P2: Hamilton fastest again, but this time followed by Schumacher. Button was just two one-thousandths behind the German, and followed by Rosberg, Ricciardo and Alonso. Webber, Vergne, Grosjean and Vettel complete the top 10.

It’s quite hard to read into practice, but both sessions were entirely dry at least. It seems that McLaren will remain the fastest, and Mercedes could do well in qualifying (although they seem to have a premium there due to the extra use of their DRS). Lotus and Red Bull could be in an interesting qualifying battle, but I’d be unsurprised if the entire top 8 were a mixture of those drivers in various positions.

Morris Dancer


Anonymous said...

What has this got to do with "political betting"?

There are no doubt hundreds of blogs devoted to watching cars go round in circles. Why does this have to be another?

Morris Dancer said...

It's nothing to do with politics, but it is relevant to betting.

This second channel is where more in-depth or obscure political betting posts go, as well as (for quite some time now) these F1 posts. If you're not interested in F1 or betting on F1 nobody makes you read what I write.

Anonymous said...

A stranger in our midst methinks, who clearly knows nothing about and how it operates or how much your F1 posts are appreciated.
Keep up the excellent work Morris!

Peter from Putney

Anonymous said...

I've decided on a combination of two bets for Sunday's Malaysian GP.
The first element is that the winning margin will exceed 6.000 seconds on which I've staked 65.4% of the total bet at odds of 0.85/1 with William Hill.
The second element is that Grosjean finishes in the first 6, on which I've staked the remaining 34.6% of the total bet at odds of 2.5/1 with Ladbrokes.
Should one or other of these two bets win, I make a profit of 21% on my combined stake. Should both bets win, I make a profit of 142% of my combined stake. Should both bets lose then it's goodnight Vienna!
Should you follow me in with one or both of these bets, please feel free to vary your stakes according to your own preferences.
Good luck!

Peter from Putney

Morris Dancer said...

I'm always a bit unsure of margin bets. The problem is that a safety car, or a chap with a clear lead saving his tyres/fuel can make a big margin decline.

On Grosjean, that's an interesting bet. Lotus are quite hard to read, given their mixed weekend in Australia. I tend not to bet on races until after I've seen qualifying. If Grosjean starts in the top 4, that could be a good bet (assuming he gets a better start). A concern about him is that Malaysia is a very long race, very hot and very humid. Towards the end fitness becomes a serious issue and he's only raced there once before, and that was some time ago.

Thanks for your kind words :)

Anonymous said...

Morris - You're quite correct of course as regards the factors which mitigate against there being significant GP winning margins. There are also one or two aspects which work in the opposite direction - like, for instance, when the second-placed driver effectively gives up the chase when he realises it has become mission impossible.
That said, a mere six seconds is a miniscule lead at the end of a 90 minute race ...... around an average of one tenth of a second per lap or putting it another way, an average speed superiority of about one thousandth over his nearest challenger.
As regards my bet on a top 6 finish for Grosjean - his odds of 5/2 look too generous to me in the light of his 5th position in today's practice. If this is anywhere near a true reflection of his competitiveness, he should surely be quoted at somewhere less than 2/1, probably between 6/4-7/4.

Peter from Putney

Morris Dancer said...

It's hard reading practice times. P1 tends to be getting a sighter, P2 for long run and high fuel setup, and P3 for fine-tuning and qualifying simulation. But if there's a problem or a team is focusing more in high fuel it can make them appear slow, and artificially boost others.

However, I've heard that traction is particularly important in Malaysia, and that's an area where Lotus is strong (and they got a podium last year, I think).

The win last time was by 3.2s, but in 2009 Button won by about 20s.

Anonymous said...

Grosjean has already shown just how quick he can be - when I spoke pre-season of there being a handful of "new" drivers with massive potential, I viewed Grosjean as being at the forefront of this pack.
Over the next couple of years, I expect him to get very close to the top of the F1 Drivers rankings.
We're about due a new mega star. Much will of course on which car he gets offered.

Peter from Putney