Sunday, 4 November 2012

Abu Dhabi: post-race analysis

From a betting perspective it was a mixture of delight at Raikkonen's victory (also handy for my top 3 bet) and despair at Hamilton's mechanical failure. The 2.9 on him to win was a great bet, but the sport is subject to the capriciousness of fate.

The start was dramatic and pleasing, as Raikkonen dove from fourth to second (Webber left the handbrake on), and further down the grid a few of the middle men collided with one another, yet again.

Alonso fairly rapidly got up to fourth, with Maldonado between himself and Raikkonen. The Spaniard and Venezuelan were closely matched, and although Raikkonen was some way up the road Hamilton was in a class of his own.

At the back of the field Vettel was passing the pointless teams with ease, and although he took minor front wing damage from a small collision with Senna (racing incident only) it didn't hamper his progress.

In a crash slightly reminiscent of Webber and Kovalainen (I think) in 2010 in Valencia Rosberg mounted the back of Karthikeyan's HRT and then took to the skies (as well as taking out both cars and bringing out a safety car).

This was bad news for Hamilton and Raikkonen as it closed the field up and eliminated the gap they'd built up ahead of the rest but good news for Vettel… until Ricciardo braked suddenly in front of him. Vettel took evasive action and plunged through a polystyrene barrier. However, at the speed he was doing it damaged his front wing even more and he was forced to pit early, putting him at the back of the field.

After the safety car departed Hamilton drove off from Raikkonen who similarly had no problems leaving Maldonado behind. The Venezuelan looked racy, but his team left him out too long on the soft tyres. He was passed by Alonso and then had a meeting with Webber, which was probably the Aussie's fault for trying to force the issue.

Then Hamilton suffered yet another reliability failure. Since the middle of the season the McLaren seems to only be fast when it's fragile, and his sudden total loss of power robbed him of a certain victory.

Webber was involved in another incident with Massa, and then a third when he got tangled up in what was mostly a Perez-Di Resta incident lasting a few laps (which also saw Grosjean involved). The Australian and Frenchman both retired, though from what I saw neither were to blame.

Vettel, meanwhile, was making great progress, aided by a second safety car. For a while it seemed he could challenge for the win, but Raikkonen pitted and emerged ahead. Perhaps going for safety first, the team pitted Vettel a second time, and he came out fourth, just behind Button and Alonso.

Raikkonen drove away and built up a gap that saw him to victory. In the closing stages Alonso got nearer and nearer but was never in a position to pass and the Finn was unflappable (and amusingly irascible on the radio). Button did extremely well to keep Vettel behind him for half a dozen laps before getting passed, when it became apparent the German was something like 0.7s a lap faster. By this time he was the fastest in the field but too far back to possibly worry Alonso.

In the end Maldonado was 5th, Kobayashi (who barely featured in the coverage) was 6th, Massa 7th and Senna 8th, making it a double points finish for Williams. Di Resta and Ricciardo got the final points.

It was a thrilling and tense race with serious implications for the title race. Alonso got 18 points but Vettel 15, which means the German retains a middling size lead with two races to go. In addition, Raikkonen becomes the eighth race winner of the season, for the sixth constructor.

Here's the top five:
Vettel 255
Alonso 245
Raikkonen 198
Webber 167
Hamilton 165

It's now a simple two horse race, and Vettel seems far the likelier to take it now. Today was a great opportunity for Alonso to whittle the lead down to low single figures or retake it himself, but thanks to a combination of lucky safety car periods and fantastic pace it still stands at 10 points.

In the top 3, I'd grown rather despondent about my Raikkonen bet, but it's now looking strong (layable at 1.29 for those who feel that way inclined). He's 31 points ahead of Webber with two races to go. I think he's very likely to stay third.

We now have a week off before travelling to the new American circuit for the first time (and you'll have to use your imagination because it's radio-only). One week after that it's the season finale (and possibly the title decider) in Interlagos.

Morris Dancer


Nigel said...

Congratulations on your Raikkonnen coup.

I'm gutted about the Hamilton car failure (I had money on him for the win at 7 on Betfair, from the beginning of the week). I laid my original stake, but it could have been pleasantly profitable.

Vettel is a very lucky young man. One safety car was only slightly fortunate, but two was more than he deserved.
McLaren must be starting to feel a little concern over their new signing for next season - and Hamilton more convinced about his move to Mercedes.

The championship is not over yet. Ferrari might get their new parts working in the US - and there's always the possibility of rain in Brazil. In any event, Alonso is actually looking better than he did immediately after Q3.

Morris Dancer said...

Coup's a little strong, but it's nice to have a green tip.

Could be wrong but I think Interlagos is rainier than Silverstone.

Bad luck on Hamilton.

Vettel drove very well, but he also was bloody lucky with the safety cars.

Alonso could win, but I'd be surprised now.

Nigel said...

"Vettel drove very well, but he also was bloody lucky with the safety cars."

Particularly perverse was that he actually benefitted from his misjudgment during the first safety car period which forced him to pit to change the front wing.

After that he drove excellently - and got lucky with the second Perez generated safety.

Nigel said...

Love this:

"Incredible how Sebastian came up from the pitlane," Hamilton said.

"He's got to be the luckiest person in Formula 1."

Morris Dancer said...

Hamilton might be right.

He should've won both Singapore and Abu Dhabi. Given the way the points degrade, Vettel would've had a very slim lead now or perhaps none at all.

That's not to say he was entirely flukey. The drive was fantastic but it was mirrored by his fortune.

Nigel said...

Just laid Kimi for DC top 3 at 1.26 on Betfair.

I'd forgotten I had money on that - almost as good as backing him for the podium.


The Raikkonen radio show: