Friday, 13 April 2012

China: pre-qualifying

I was going to write a quick post looking back at the first two races to analyse why I’d gotten things wrong (zero from two tips), but soon realised there’d be little point. Neither tip may’ve come off with better luck, but we’ll never know. Schumacher’s gearbox problem was unforeseeable and wrecked his chances, and Button’s HRT problem and subsequent bad tyres were also just bad luck. I’m not happy with how things have gone, but I think Button stood a good chance of victory if he hadn’t made that slight mistake and Schumacher had an outside chance in Australia.

I caught the last 30 minutes of P2 and found out quite a few interesting snippets. For a start, the Mercedes is extremely tasty over one lap, but as China has many straights its super DRS system will give it a qualifying advantage that won’t recur in the race. Hamilton is quick, and seems substantially more comfortable than Button (NB Hamilton is taking a 5 place grid penalty due to a gearbox change). Raikkonen/Lotus seem to be having some difficulty with setup, largely because the circuit’s just 15 Celsius and therefore much cooler than expected. There’s also a lot of tyre degradation, the same compounds (medium/soft) as Australia and a heavy fuel effect (ie more fuel slows the cars down more significantly than at other circuits). Ferrari also appears to be off the ball.

My present thinking is to not bet on qualifying, but to think about backing Hamilton for a podium or win (depending on the odds and his starting position), and perhaps laying Schumacher or Button for a podium, depending on where they start. We’ll have to wait and see how the grid stacks up.

Here’s the rundown from P1: Hamilton was fastest by over a second, and he was followed by Rosberg who was two-tenths up on his team mate. Then Perez led Kobayashi, with Webber, Vettel and Button next. The top 10 was rounded out by and Ricciardo and Vergne.

In P2 Schumacher was fastest with Hamilton seventeen-hundredths behind him and Vettel one-hundredth behind the Briton. Webber was three-tenths down the road, followed by Rosberg, Button and Kobayashi. Di Resta was eighth, over two-tenths ahead of Hulkenberg, with Alonso 10th.

Unexpectedly, I am actually offering a tip now, but it’s not for the race. There have been 3 of the last 8 races with safety cars, and rain played a part in one race (there were two safety car periods during it but the second may’ve been due in part to residual water). The weather forecast is for it to be dry, so that’s 2.5 from 8 races (calling the wet one a half), or 5/16. However, the odds on No Safety Car are 2.08, which is what I’m tipping.

So, one tip: No Safety Car at 2.08 (no hedging).

Morris Dancer


Nigel said...

One other possible - Schumacher for pole at around 8 on Betfair ? Looks tasty.

(nb the Betfair market disregards any penalties such as Hamilton's, otherwise that would be a no-brainer)

Morris Dancer said...

That sounds tempting. Hmmm. The Mercedes is clearly very quick, especially in qualifying. There's also a 2.5 for Schumacher to be top 3. Given the Mercedes' pace and Button struggling that's possibly tastier.

On a related note, if I were Hamilton I'd put the medium compound on in Q3. Their durability far outweighed the minor loss in pace at Australia, and if that's the case in China then he'll gain a strategic advantage by only needing to put on softs near the very end and if it isn't he can get them out of the way early on and then have clear air to make up the time.

Anonymous said...

Sorry Morris - I'm going to directly oppose you with the first of my two bets for the Chinese GP - I'm going FOR the deployment of the safety car at 5/6 (1.83 decimal) with Paddy Power or Bet365. We must be reading different weather forecasts since my understanding is that there is a very reasonable chance of rain on Sunday. Furthermore, four of the last six races in China have been held in wet weather conditions, and since it was moved to an April race in 2009 we’ve seen two of the last three go wet.

My second bet is something of an outside chance - that Kamui Kobayashi finishes in the top 6 available at odds of 7/1 (8.0 decimal) from those nice people at Hills). Some other bookies are offering less than half these odds. To have a decent chance of collecting on this bet probably requires one or two of the leading 8 drivers to fail to finish but that is not so unlikely. I'm also concerned that he might be edged out of it by his fellow Sauber-Ferrari driver Sergio Perez, who is much shorter in the betting. However, having finished 7th earlier in second practice, just one quarter of a second behind Jenson Button, Kamui is clearly there or thereabouts as regards pace and is cracking value at this price imho.

Peter from Putney

Morris Dancer said...

Mr. Putney, it'll be interesting to see what the weather is now. It'll be bloody ironic if there's no rain but there is a safety car :p

Hmm. I don't think I'd back that. All else being equal I'd expect the McLarens, Mercedes, Red Bulls and Lotuses to stand a good chance of being ahead, and likewise Alonso. And, as you suggest, Perez himself might get ahead of him.

He did sneak 6th in Oz, but Schumacher's gearbox broke and Raikkonen suffered a qualifying mishap. Are you hedging, out of interest?

Anonymous said...

Morris -

On the limited available evidence so far this season I make Kobayashi about 9th in the pecking order so he's always going to have a chance of a top 6 finish where there's any degree of attrition and I therefore rate 7/1 a good price. I'm not intending to hedge but were I to do so I'd probably back Perez instead to finish top 6 where he's best priced at 3/1 with Paddy Power or alternatively I'm tempted as a saver to back Kobayashi to achieve a points finish at 11/10 with bwin, generous odds for something he should achieve.

Peter from Putney

Morris Dancer said...

Hmm. It's quite hard to say 'should achieve', because the field is tremendously competitive. It's possible to see him finishing top 6, or well out of the top 10. On that basis your longer shot makes more sense to me.

By the way, I checked with my two weather sites of choice (Wunderground and and both predict a dry race. I also checked the BBC site (in which I have little faith) and that suggested it would be dry. What forecast have you been looking at?

Anonymous said...

What forecast have you been looking at?

Morris - not a weather forecast as such but in fact an internet tipping service. So your source is probably more reliable even if recent history might be against you.

It was in fact Perez's terrific performance in the previous Grand Prix which influenced me, coupled with both drivers' pace in practice today - it seems to me that both drivers, equipped with competitive cars, are probably in the top 10 right now.
I've only wagered the cost of a pint of Old Speckled Hen here so although an interesting bet it is hardly wealth-threatening. I'll probably leave things as they are rather than attempt some kind of fancy hedge arrangement.
That said expect some gloating should this bet deliver - after all 7/1 winners don't exactly grow on trees.

Peter from Putney.

Morris Dancer said...

Indeed they do not, Mr. Putney (alas).

Perez was fantastic in Malaysia, but if it's dry in China the Sauber will be hard-pressed, I fear. Mind you, Perez's unofficial status as heir to Massa's seat may inspire him to excel. I hope your safety car bet fails and your other bet comes off.

Nigel said...

Right car, wrong driver - well done Nico Rosberg. I ought to have considered that his qualifying form might return this season.

That Kobayashi bet at 7/1 is looking pretty good now - he's half those odds for a podium.

The race is going to be very interesting. I have serious doubts about the staying power of the Mercedes tyres, but if they stay in front for any length of time it could still decide everyone else's race. The performance window of the Pirellis seems to be very narrow indeed, and getting stuck in traffic will make it narrower still.

Do we know who in the top 10 still has fresh sets of the options ?
Rosberg, (possibly Schumacher ?), Grosjean and Kobyashi by my reckoning.

Morris Dancer said...

I think you're being a bit hard on yourself. Schumacher was the better race in the second half of last year and he had a distinct margin in the first two qualifying sessions of 2012. It was bloody unlucky, and I sympathise.

Grosjean is disadvantaged by the fact that he keeps on crashing into other people. I'd be disinclined to back him. The Sauber's pretty good, but I'm not sure it'll be able to withstand Raikkonen and maybe Hamilton.

I share your doubts regarding Mercedes, and hope we're both right (see the pre-race piece).