Monday, 23 July 2012

2012 Mid-season Review Part 1

We're exactly halfway through the season, with 10 races come and gone and 10 races ahead. Part 1 of the review will mostly look back at what's already happened, and consider how well or badly the betting's gone.

At the start of the season it was quite clear. McLaren had the best car in qualifying and in the race. Red Bull were second, Ferrari had a dog and Lotus and Sauber were more competitive than expected.

But this did not last very long. Possibly due to their atypical solution to the rule changes (having a pretty nose rather than a kinky one) McLaren have not done so well in developing their car as might be expected. Red Bull have done well and improved an already good car, but Ferrari have done the best job. Their car at the start of the season was barely a midfield competitor but now, whilst perhaps not quite as swift as the Red Bull and maybe the McLaren, it can at least compete at the sharp end. It's also tasty in all conditions, unlike the McLaren which hates very wet conditions.

Sauber, Lotus, Mercedes and Williams are all still doing fairly well, the first two teams especially. Mercedes seem to be a little further back, doing well in qualifying but struggling to maintain that in the race (the anti-Sauber, if you like).

Anyway, to the betting.

Perhaps surprisingly the Perez tip in Germany was the first winning race tip (without hedging) since Monaco in May. It's also rather counter-intuitive, but true, that the vast majority of profitability for the bet-and-forget numbers comes from qualifying (race bets are green but modestly so). I've only offered qualifying tips at five out of the 10 races to date (this is generally due to P3 being at 2am for Far Eastern races, or if it's very soggy in P3 and qualifying's expected to be dry).

There's a more or less even split of profit between qualifying and race bets for the hedged style of betting. Hedging has been better than not at four races, and less profitable at two. Overall it's better by a clear margin.

Last year, pretty much throughout the season, not hedging was more profitable. That was because, bluntly, I was getting more things right. This year I'm getting some things right but also getting quite a lot of things nearly right, leading to hedges getting matched.

Despite this, and some recent good results in Europe and Germany, I'm still somewhat tentative about betting. The topsy-turvy nature of the season and some recent wet weather has kept me a bit cautious. I think that's a good thing, and hopefully it will keep me on my toes.

I've continued my bad habit of starting a season rubbishly, as the graph clearly shows. However, there's also a general upward trend, which is nice, and I haven't had too many losses since the first part of the season.

Specific markets:

I think that the Q3 market (to reach it and be top 10 prior to penalties) is one of the most interesting. Grosjean was far too short in Germany, and Alonso likewise in Europe.

It's also worth noting that recently big names have even struggled to escape Q1 as they try and make it on prime tyres (Webber, Schumacher and Button have all either exited or nearly exited at that stage recently).

Generally speaking the chap on pole has gone on to win (Alonso is a double exception to this, in both ways, and Hamilton has also failed to convert his poles to wins yet won from further back in Canada).

Further down there has been a lot of churning in the order from grid to flag. I mentioned Sauber further up. They've been qualifying poorly lately, but they've had good race pace. Mercedes are somewhat the opposite. Podium and Top 6 markets have potential, and I quite like them.

I think hedging generally makes sense. As well as being cautious by nature anyway, F1 (especially this year) is especially prone to sudden changes in fortune.

Regarding the titles, my bet on Lotus to get the Constructors' now looks as silly as a morris dancer without a wiffle stick but the Drivers' is looking a little better. For modest sums I'm ahead if Alonso or any Red Bull/McLaren driver wins.

Given the unpredictable nature of the sport this year I'm reasonably satisfied with the season to date. Whether the latter half is better, worse, or broadly the same remains to be seen.

The next race:

Looking ahead to Hungary, which is this weekend, No Safety Car (assuming there's no rain) is a likely bet. The circuit has the lowest incidence of safety cars on the calendar. I remember reading that the track's all about front-end grip, so this may especially help Mercedes and Lotus (assuming the latter's updated DRS system works) in qualifying.

I'd also guess, based on the Germany race, that McLaren will be very competitive and Hamilton might well nab pole. If it's dry, I'd be surprised if Alonso got another pole.

From Hungary (inclusive) I'll be adding a green line to the graph. This green line will be based upon the tips offered in the comments (usually by Mr. Putney and Mr. Nigel, but it's entirely open to others as well). I'll just take a note of the bet, the odds and whether it's with Betfair or not (to account for the 5% commission). I'm not going to take hedged bets, because I think four lines would be a bit excessive.

Obviously most bets are for races or qualifying but if title bets are suggested I'll take a note of those as well. As with my own tips, I'll assume a standard stake of £10.

Morris Dancer

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