Delighted to get the first winning tip for qualifying this year (from four), especially at fairly long odds. I thought it'd be congested around the Q3 cut-off, and luckily for me Alonso (along with Schumacher and Massa) were not quite quick enough.
Q1 was actually moderately interesting. Poor Timo Glock was too unwell to race and was therefore 'last', but the real shock was that Webber, who'd missed P3 due to car problems, failed to get out of Q1 even on soft tyres. The reason for that was a hydraulic problem which meant DRS didn't work, and that cuts 1.3s from a lap time in Valencia.
Q2 was hyper-competitive. Alonso was out in 11th but was barely two-tenths off of the fastest time set in that session. Fellow big names Schumacher and Massa were out in 12th and 13th, and it's worth mentioning that the much maligned Massa managed to be just seven-hundredths behind his team mate. Senna was 14th with a somewhat disappointing Perez 15th (that said, he started 15th in Canada and finished on the podium). Kovalainen had a good 16th for Caterham, ahead of Ricciardo (Vergne was 18th meaning Kovalainen beat both Toro Rossos).
Q3 was less competitive than Q2. It was pretty close at the sharp end, until Vettel did a single lap and slaughtered Hamilton (2nd) by four-tenths. He also got Canadian pole by a mile, but the Red Bull was slower than its immediate rivals in the race. Maldonado was very close to Hamilton, with Grosjean and Raikkonen extremely close behind. I think the Lotus could be the car to watch tomorrow. Rosberg, Kobayashi, Hulkenberg, Button and di Resta round out the top 10.
The Force Indias were a bit slower than I expected in qualifying, and Maldonado did very well (especially compared to his team mate) to nab 3rd. Lotus look good on both single lap pace and the long runs.
McLaren and Red Bull are hard to read. Hamilton and Button were both downbeat pre-qualifying and Hamilton seemed a bit surprised to be second fastest. I'm not sure how the Red Bull will do in the race. Valencia is very hard to overtake at (which Button amusingly and honestly referred to in an interview with Lee Mackenzie) but high degradation is expected (air temperature of around 28C is forecast) which may change that. A two or three stop strategy seems to be the way to go.
As noted on the previous article I tipped No Safety Car at 1.5 earlier in the week, and still stand by that. It's up to 1.63 on Betfair now.
Like Mr. Nigel, who commented on the previous article, I think that Lotus could be the team to beat.
Annoyingly, Ladbrokes' top scoring team market is down (I'd been very interested in backing Lotus for that). Really hard to pick one, or maybe two, from Lotus to win, Raikkonen/Grosjean to win and Raikkonen/Grosjean to get a podium.
Tiny bit irked that I can't have that single Lotus to top score bet. After quite a lot of cogitation I decided to back Grosjean for the podium at 2.62.
Also decided to split one standard stake to back Grosjean to win at 10.5 and Raikkonen at 11.5, with both hedged at 3. If you prefer to just bet-and-forget you might prefer the 5.5 at Ladbrokes for Lotus to win. Because I'm advocating splitting a single stake (as per the Hamilton-Button bet at Canada last year) this'll count as a single tip. Hopefully it'll work, considering how long I agonised over it.
So, the race tips are:
No Safety Car 1.5 (1.63 now up on Betfair)
Grosjean, podium, 2.62 (Ladbrokes)
Half-stake: Grosjean, win, 10.5 (hedged at 3)
Half-stake: Raikkonen, win, 11.5 (hedged at 3)
Let's hope the race is as pleasingly profitable as the qualifying.