Saturday, 7 July 2012

United Kingdom: pre-race

Writing this rather later than I imagined (it's presently 3.50pm) due to a rather prolonged qualifying session.

Q1 was wet, perhaps unsurprisingly. Caterham discovered that their upgrades were not good enough, but the real shock was Button's exit in the first round of qualifying. He struggled with his initial set of intermediates, and seemed poised to put in a good enough time when yellow flags damaged his chances and he ended up 18th.

Q2 saw the return of the red-shouldered blackbird. It started off very wet and then got wetter. With 6 minutes and 19 seconds left it was red-flagged. At that moment Perez was fastest, followed by Hamilton and Rosberg. Schumacher, Grosjean and both Ferraris were, at that point, in the drop zone.

There was quite a lengthy rain delay, which did have a few interesting moments. Jordan and Anderson both argued, quite eloquently, that the red flag penalised those (like Sauber) who had made the right call and let those who had not (like Ferrari) off the hook. We also got to see the return of F1 legend Murray Walker, and it really was great to hear him shouting "Go, go, go!" again.

However, the session did get going again. Sauber cocked up and sent their drivers out on the wrong compound. Though they changed it couldn't help Perez, who tumbled from 1st to 17th. Bloody unlucky for the talented Mexican. Both Ferraris and Schumacher managed to get through, but Rosberg did not.

Q3 was one of those sessions where the track was constantly and rapidly improving, meaning later laps were also faster. Alonso, who had been on the verge of being dumped in Q2, nailed Ferrari's first pole for about 30 races. Webber put in a great performance for 2nd (beating his team mate, who was 4th) and Schumacher got a very impressive 3rd. Massa also continued his recent return to decent form with 5th and was followed by Raikkonen, Maldonado and Maldonado's best friend forever Hamilton. Hulkenberg and Grosjean (who didn't run after parking the Lotus in a gravel trap in Q2) round out the top 10.

The forecast was too optimistic for qualifying, so although it suggests there will possibly be light showers for the race I think it'd be foolish to rule out any kind of weather. We could easily see anything from sunshine to showers to a return of the British monsoon season.

It's quite hard to predict, of course, but I've decided to back Alonso for the win at 3.5 (hedged at 1.4). The reasoning is that he not only got a wet/drying pole but he was also fastest in P3, which was dry (and he's been very competitive of late, of course).

Should be a thrilling race. Silverstone's a great circuit, and it'll be fascinating to see what the weather does and just how strategy (wet or dry) will be managed. I'd prefer it if there weren't an hour and a half of delay, though (NB after Canada the spoilsport bean-counters have decreed no race can exceed 4 hours in length. Worth knowing if you're betting in-play and there's a prolonged rain delay).

Morris Dancer


Anonymous said...

Morris - thanks for your great pre-race summary. Your bet on Alonso looks like great value - he currently looks head and shoulders ahead of the rest of the field such that only reliability problems could prevent him from winning.
Having given up on Button doing anything tomorrow, I'm hoping that my evens bet on Kobayashi finishing in the points will enable me to finish all square. I somehow feel that Massa may do better than expected but I've so far refrained from placing any money in support of this view.

Peter from Putney

Morris Dancer said...

Np, Mr. Putney.

I was a little surprised Alonso wasn't a little shorter. The winner has actually tended to come from pole this year despite the topsy-turvy racing.

I'd guess the slightly long (for a pole-sitter) odds might be because of the uncertainty over the weather and difficult assessing who actually would be fastest in the dry.

Sauber start with fairly poor grid slots but both drivers are talented and the car's good in the wet and the dry, so I'd feel more confident than worried if I were you.

Massa's pretty hard to predict. His pace has come back of late but he still seems to lack a certain edge.

Whilst the season's very exciting I've almost never felt very confident about a bet. I think the last one I felt really comfortable with was Rosberg to get pole in Bahrain [he didn't].