Saturday, 8 September 2012

Italy: pre-race

It was a slightly safety-first bet (which amounted to 1.5 on Hamilton or Alonso) but given it came off I'm perfectly happy. Not surprised Hamilton got pole, but I was shocked to see Alonso finish where he did.

In the first qualifying session the typical backmarker teams were out, as was Hulkenberg. Force India had been looking pretty good around Monza but an unknown fault meant he stopped on track, and will start last.

The second qualifying session saw the Red Bulls struggle. Vettel squeaked into Q3, and Webber did not. Perez also failed to make the top 10, whereas his team mate made it through. D'Ambrosio finished low down the order as well. Both Williams and Toro Rossos were also eliminated. Maldonado will start very near the back, having qualified 12th and then having a pair of 5 place grid penalties for jumping the start and ramming Glock in Spa.

The third qualifying was thrilling and surprising. The Ferraris, as per P3, worked together so they benefited from the slipstream effect. However, after Massa had benefited their effort with Alonso seemed to go askew and the Spaniard, who had been fastest in earlier sessions, was a shockingly low 10th. At the front McLaren were fantastic, with Hamilton leading Button. Massa also had a great qualifying, showing the Ferrari has real pace, and got third, with Di Resta putting in a very impressive lap for fourth (he'll be demoted five places due to a gearbox-related penalty). Schumacher put his Silver Arrow in fifth, ahead of Vettel and Rosberg, with Raikkonen eighth. Kobayashi only managed ninth, but that was probably the limit of his car.

So, McLaren are on the march, and Ferrari absolutely cocked up Alonso's qualifying. Whether it was his mistake it's hard to say but he should've been top three at least. Whilst Monza is a proper circuit, and overtaking is therefore possible, nine out of the last 10 races there have been won from pole, and starting 10th is not great.

It's also worth considering the relatively high number of issues cars have had in practice and qualifying. Alonso has suffered brake failure in practice and a mechanical failure in qualifying, in P3 Vettel's battery ran out of juice, Hulkenberg's Force India went on strike before he could even clock a qualifying time and both Mercedes have suffered RFA/DRS failures in practice. It's also worth bearing in mind that the last time a Renault-engined car had an alternator issue (Valencia) it cost one Red Bull and one Lotus many points.

So, that's another area where McLaren have a clear advantage, as well as being either fastest or very nearly fastest. It is quite hard to see either of the team's drivers failing to get a podium.

I agonised over what to bet on here. The problem is I think the third podium spot, assuming McLaren get two of them, could go to a large number of people, the winner odds were not that appealing (I was actually tempted by the 23 on Massa to win) and everything else I considered had really short odds.

In the end I backed Sauber to have both cars finish in the points at 3.25 with Ladbrokes, no hedging.

The race could be an absolute cracker tomorrow.

Morris Dancer


Nigel said...

Interesting Sauber bet.

The other thing I noticed is the top 6 market on Betfair has Alonso around 1.4, and Di Resta around 3.5.

I'll admit there ought to be some differential, but that seems ridiculous given they're on the same row of the grid, and the Force India looks well suited to Monza.

Morris Dancer said...

I wanted to bet on Alonso for top 6, but at 1.4, with the issues he's had (brakes, engine, etc) it's just too short.

I think he'll get there but the odds are not nice.

Di Resta's odds are more understandable, but you're right that he had the pace to be 4th. I was ready to be a naysayer, but actually that looks interesting. Are you tipping Di Resta, incidentally?

Morris Dancer said...

Oh, and I meant to mention your excellent (if very early) 7.4 Button tip, but, er, forgot. I'll endeavour to pay more attention to the green line in future.

Nigel said...

If the market were a bit more liquid, I'd back Di Resta and lay Alonso as a trading bet.

Much depends on the race performance of Mercedes. If they can't one stop and everyone else can, it does throw the top 6 wide open.

There's also the chance of collisions at the tight first corner.

Have to think about it.

Morris Dancer said...

I'll take that as a no (for now, at least), though I'm considering putting a small sum on Di Resta.

I did hear during the BBC highlights programme (which I don't always bother with) that Di Resta reckoned Mercedes would have to two stop. That surprised me, as Pirelli have been very clear it should be a straightforward one-stopper.

It'll also be interesting to see how Hulkenberg can do. He had even worse luck than Alonso in qualifying, but his car should be pretty competitive in the race.

Nigel said...

"Pirelli have been very clear it should be a straightforward one-stopper"

I take Pirelli's comments with a small pinch of salt, as they are occasionally plain wrong.

Shouldn't have gone away to think about it - Di Resta has shaded to under 3.
Alonso is now down to 1.3 - lower odds than everyone but Button and Hamilton to finish top 6.
From 10th on the grid, that's a bit silly.

Going to chance my arm and lay a tenner (liability only three quid).

Morris Dancer said...

Whilst I think Alonso is very likely to be top 6 1.3 is, as you suggest, strangely short. Ferrari (well, his) have not been very reliable so far this weekend, and there's always the possibility of tangling with someone else (happily Maldonado is far back).

Nigel said...

"1.3 is, as you suggest, strangely short."

Not any longer.

I wouldn't wish a mechanical problem on anyone, but.....

Anonymous said...

Great bet by you Morris and at decent odds too. You're really showing some good form of late.
Once again I couldn't find any value to recommend.
That said, with Button finishing pointless, following his win last weekend, this proved a good outcome for my SELL points spread on him at 240 which had started to look a bit iffy of late.
No doubt Lewis' win will have added the odd £million or two to his new contract value with whatever team that may prove to be.

Peter from Putney

Morris Dancer said...

I'm just glad not to have immediately bad results after the interval. After the mid-season break and at the start of a new season I always find it difficult.

What're your plans regarding your Button spread bet?

Anonymous said...

I recall saying that I intended closing my SELL spread bet on Button's points should the price fall fall to 180 or below (thereby realising me a profit of > £500) - which it did, reaching a low of around 165 at the half season interval, but recovering since to a spread of 176-182 (i.e. I'd be selling at 182) following his recent successes.
With just 7 GPs remaining I might just be tempted to allow this bet to run its course, although I'd be sorely tempted to cash in should the spread fall to 165 points again, at which level my profit would be £750 (i.e. £10 x 75 points).

Peter from Putney

Morris Dancer said...

Well, Singapore is very different to Monza or Spa. If you're lucky, the McLaren will fail to match its recent performances and give you a window to realise a substantial profit.

Best of luck with it.