Sunday, 22 April 2012

Bahrain: post-race analysis

Bit of a strange one as the race was actually interesting (surely a first for Bahrain?). In other weird, but welcome, news the race tip came off. Raikkonen was very much in the top 6 (he finished 2nd), making the race and the weekend as a whole green.

The start saw Vettel party like it was 2011, and Hamilton also got off to a good start, remaining 2nd. However, the real story was that both Lotuses had great starts, and Ricciardo, who had qualified in a stellar sixth, had a dire start. Rosberg had a poor start, unusually for a Mercedes.

So much happened it’s hard to know where to start, so I’ll just deal with it team by team.

Vettel did a very good job. He managed to pull a small gap over Hamilton with relative ease, and maintained the lead (barring pit stops putting people out of order) for the entire race. The only real threat came from Raikkonen, who came very close to passing him around halfway into the race, but Vettel drove well defensively and deserved the narrow win. His team mate, Steady Webby, had his fourth 4th in a row and seemed to trundle along without drama or much media attention.

Lotus had a fantastic double podium result. It’s worth bearing in mind Raikkonen had more fresh rubber than anyone else, but even so to come from 11th to 2nd and come close to victory is pretty fantastic. Looks like Lotus finally got their car and luck together, and Grosjean drove a very, very good race to come 3rd.

Rosberg came 5th, after some perhaps dubious moves on Hamilton and Alonso. The radio team reckoned they were out of order but the TV commentators seemed far less concerned. To be honest, I quite like robust racing. Schumacher had a pretty good race after the double dose of bad qualifying luck when his DRS broke and then his gearbox needed changing, giving him a 5 place grid penalty and putting him back to 22nd. He ended up 10th, doubling his points tally, but after the race questioned whether Pirelli were doing a good job as F1 is now more about tyre management than race speed.

Di Resta got a great 6th, and was the only man to make a two stop strategy work. It’s also nice to see Force India do well after their mysterious absence from qualifying coverage. Hulkenberg could only manage 12th.

Alonso battled his way to 7th, after another great start, and was very close to passing di Resta at the end. He’s actually still in decent shape for the title race if Ferrari can turn the car around, but that’s a big ask. Massa scored his first points of the season in 9th.

McLaren had a race to forget. Hamilton started well, retaining 2nd, but 2/3 of his pit stops were hampered by a problem with his left rear wheel, and his third was pretty slow as well. He only finished 8th, but that’s still better than Button. Button had been running about 6th when he suffered a puncture, pitted, and then suffered a reliability problem and had to retire (save the retirement it’s quite reminiscent of what happened in Malaysia).

Perez just missed out on the points in 11th, and Kobayashi was 13th. After their recent strong performances Sauber may be a bit disappointed.

Vergne came 14th, which is not too bad considering he failed to leave Q1, but Ricciardo (who qualified 6th) must be gutted to finish just 15th.

Williams also had a day to forget. Maldonado spun and retired, and Senna had to box and retire late on, so neither troubled the scorers.

HRT, Caterham and Marussia remain pointless.

McLaren have got to sort their pit crew out. Once or twice can be attributed to bad luck, but repeated problems in a single race could end up costing them one or both titles. Apparently the issue is that their rear axle is titanium but the wheel nut is aluminium, making it prone to becoming cross-threaded.

After that result Vettel leads the race for the drivers’ title, but it’s tight:
Vettel 53
Hamilton 49
Webber 48
Button 43
Alonso 43

Alonso’s tally is the most impressive, because his car is a dog. Second most impressive is Button, who’s had some bad luck and failed to score twice out of four races because of that. The result is great for Red Bull, but I’m not sure the combination of high temperature and degradation will be repeated elsewhere, nor that McLaren will suffer such bad luck at most races.

On the betting front, it’s a funny old game. I felt pretty confident about Rosberg, but P3 proved a useless guide and he slotted the car home in 5th. I only bet on Raikkonen because I thought the win was completely unpredictable, and it came off.

Anyway, the race and weekend are green for the first time. Somewhat counter-intuitively, although the season as a whole is still red it’s only half as bad as it was this time last year.

Three weeks to go to Spain, and between now and then I’m going to put up an article about where we are regarding the drivers/cars and also how the betting is going.

Morris Dancer


Anonymous said...

Bahrain Grand Prix - My Suggestions

"I'm well pleased however with my outright GP Winner bet on Seb Vettel at an incredibly generous price yeterday afternoon of 10.5 (9/1 net) with Betfair..."

Result: WINNER!

"Once again, probably foolishly, I'm considering laying against Button getting a podium place …"


"Can Grosjean make it a top 6 finish for Lotus?"

Result: THIRD

Three winners out of three in successive paragraphs – Bow before me, I say bow before me!

Peter from Putney

Morris Dancer said...

Ha, modesty thy name is Peter [from Putney].

I did consider betting against a Webber podium, but the odds were surprisingly long (2.5, I'd expected 1.6-1.8) so I didn't.

Congratulations, Mr. Putney.

The review of the first four races will (if I remember) include discussion of the title race, which hasn't been mentioned that much because each individual Grand Prix has been so exciting and unpredictable.

Anonymous said...

Sorry Morris - I really don't mean to boast, but if your coverage on PB2 can be shown to produce winning opportunities on a regular basis then PB2 will attract more hits and thereby more comment.
The main reason I've all but left PB1 is that it has virtually ceased to be a betting site which I understood was supposed to be its principal raison d'etre. Despite my having flagged up any number of winning opportunities over the past 6 or 7 years, there has been little or no appreciation or comment from other PBers, such that I can no longer be bothered to share my betting ideas - instead I prefer to email these to a close number of internet contacts who are happy to reciprocate. It's hardly surprising therefore that PB has lost at least two thirds of its best political punters, most of whom will probably never return.
Even Mike Smithson himself hasn't helped by seemingly reducing the betting element of his threads as well as, for example, scrapping the annual TOTY award.
Please continue with your excellent coverage of the Grand Prix scene and rest assured that although there are limited comments thus far, your interesting and informed pieces are read by far more than you would imagine.

Peter from Putney

Morris Dancer said...


Boast away. If I got another 70/1 shot you can be damned sure I'll be banging on about it.

I do enjoy reading what others think and bet, and I hope you (and Nigel, and maybe others) continue to offer your thoughts.

It's really very odd. I still a feel bit concerned about this year, but if someone had backed every tip with £10 they'd be down just over £20 overall which is hardly a crisis.

Oh, and there's something I forget to put in the main piece, which is a suggestion that the McLaren was more affected by cross-winds than other cars (maybe because of the nose?) and that this could be a factor in Spain, the next GP.

Nigel said...

A couple of interesting comments on McLaren's tyre woes:

Gary Anderson:
McLaren also had a problem with degradation on their rear tyres - exactly as they had on Friday afternoon, when the wind was in the same direction as it was in the race, a tailwind through the fast Turns Five, Six and Seven.
Their car looks a bit more wind-critical than others, something I've experienced with some of my own cars in the past.

When asked by AUTOSPORT if the most important factor over the course of the season will be exploiting the tyres rather than delivering improvements to its car, Whitmarsh said: "In my view yes, because our downforce hasn't evaporated and disappeared.
"The inherent performance of the car is there, you could see it in qualifying. So then when you stand back, it has to be how we exploit those tyres. And here we were killing the rear tyres, and that made it very difficult for the drivers.
"Our drivers really didn't stand a chance. I think with something like that, it's pressures, temperatures; it's how we are using those tyres. It's a bit of a concern. We have to be calm, analytical and fix it."

Morris Dancer said...

That's very interesting.

I'll have to try and remember to check wind direction (if that's even available) when looking at weather forecasts for Spain.

Might be a combination of high temperature/rough surface for the tyres. McLaren had decent wear in Australia and China, after all.