A very exciting race, although I must confess being a little disappointed by the final result. On the other hand, it was the most profitable race of the season so far (hedging was just over one stake more profitable than the bet-and-forget approach). The Alonso to win hedge at 3 was matched but sadly Raikkonen, despite briefly leading, didn’t have his hedge at 2 matched. Happily, Alonso lead lap 1 (backed at 6, laid at 2.8 and layable at 2.5 on the morning of the race).
Perez suffered very bad luck off the line, getting tagged by Grosjean, I think. He had a puncture, had to pit early and then suffered a pit stop problem that put paid to his race.
Hamilton and Massa both made great starts but were to suffer a bit later on.
Alonso and Maldonado essentially flew in formation for the first stint, with Raikkonen dropped a little but miles ahead of 4th-placed Grosjean. However, Williams brought in Maldonado earlier and benefited from the fresh rubber which saw the Venezuelan take the lead.
Hamilton was charging through the field and got to 5th, when the team decided to try and make a three stop strategy into a two stopper, which sadly didn’t really work. They had to revert to a three stop strategy which put him a few places down the field.
Meanwhile Schumacher took Senna roughly from behind, destroying both of their races and Vettel/Massa suffered drive-through penalties for not slowing under yellow flags.
In the final stint Alonso was getting very, very close to Maldonado but sadly couldn’t pass him. Despite having initially fresher tyres it was Alonso’s that fell away, enabling Maldonado to get the first ever F1 win for Venezuela. Raikkonen had waited until later than the two leaders for his last set of tyres and was catching Alonso by a second a lap but the gap was insurmountable and he came third, followed by Grosjean.
Kobayashi put in some of the banzai overtakes for which he is known, passing Button and then Rosberg to achieve a very good 5th for Sauber, which will go some way to making up for the unfortunate DNF of Perez.
Rosberg was also passed late on by Vettel, who did well to take 6th despite 4 stops and a drive-through. Hamilton started last but finished 8th, one place ahead of his team mate (glad I laid my bets on them for the title) and Hulkenberg was able to hold off Webber to claim the final points position.
Five races. Five winning teams. Five winning drivers. Pretty exciting stuff.
I also must confess that my opinion of Maldonado (I called him a pay driver) deserves significant revision. He did very well under extreme pressure from Alonso and, perhaps aided by the rather tasty Williams, managed to make the tyres last for longer than anyone had expected.
Turning to the vulgar necessity of money, this was the best race/race weekend so far this season, although overall it’s still in the red. I did (very briefly) consider a saving bet on Maldonado for the win (I think he was circa 10) but didn’t take it as I never really thought he could do it. Oh well.
The title race is intriguingly poised. Yes, I know it’s been intriguingly poised at every moment this season, but I’ve made a couple more title bets.
Alonso to win at 6. He’s leading the title race (joint with Vettel on 61) and his car’s much improved. Plus it can now, seemingly, qualify and he has a compliant team mate.
Lotus to win the Constructors’ at 8. Bit more of a trading bet, but they’ve got two very talented drivers (unlike Ferrari) and have been performing very well of late. Not sure they’ll be able to maintain that for the entire season so I’ll watch how they go with a view to hedging.
The next race is Monaco, in a fortnight’s time. I’d expect McLaren to do a bit better there and will probably be looking to back Hamilton for pole.