Saturday, 24 November 2012

Brazil: pre-race

The qualifying session was slightly unpredictable, with a soggy but drying track in Q1 and then a dry and warming track for the rest of the session.

Q1 was more interesting than usual as the third sector was wet but the first sector was bone dry. The drivers simply had to go round and round as later laps were significantly faster than earlier ones (due to clearing off water which dried the track, enhanced grip and increased speed). The only real incident was Grosjean's ill-conceived or perhaps unlucky effort to pass De La Rosa's HRT in the last part of the third sector. The Frenchman's front wing got broken and the Spaniard got a puncture. So, Grosjean somewhat surprisingly exited qualifying at this stage.

Q2 was pretty tight, but Massa managed to squeeze through, and Alonso only just managed it as well. Di Resta must be disappointed to start just 11th after Force India had a very solid P3 and Hulkenberg made it through to the final session. Senna starts 12th, followed by Perez, Schumacher and Kobayashi. Sauber's poor qualifying may matter less at Interlagos, given it's an old school circuit where overtaking is eminently possible. The Toro Rossos start 16th and 17th.

The third qualifying session was quite interesting, although it was almost very interesting. McLaren locked out the front row (Hamilton getting his final pole for McLaren), and Red Bull likewise the second. However, Vettel's first lap was poor and he was about 9th at that stage (behind Alonso). Massa did very well to get 5th, and is followed by Maldonado and Hulkenberg. Alonso could only manage 8th, with Raikkonen and Rosberg behind him.

Afterwards there was much musing by Eddie Jordan that Massa was probably set up for dry conditions and Alonso very much so for the wet. This was backed up when Alonso stated that the car was set up for maximum downforce (a wet setup). This would explain why he starts three places behind Massa (although the Brazilian has had some very strong qualifying performances lately) and makes sense given that on a dry track with a dry setup the McLarens and Red Bulls are too far ahead of Ferrari.

However, if it rains (and some reckon there's an 80% chance of it happening) then maximising a wet setup will help with pace and could be a game-changer. It will also reduce the odds of a race-ending spin/accident.

The forecasts currently suggest there will be rain tomorrow, but it coinciding with the race is something like 50%. We'll have to wait and see just how significant it is.

I've backed Button to win at 5.4, with a hedge set up at 2.5. My reasoning is that he's got the car to win in the dry but also the wet-dry racing skills to win if it's raining off and on. There's also a strange habit of the chap starting second winning (this has happened for the last three years), and when McLaren's had a reliability failing it's typically afflicted Hamilton rather than Button.

That's the last tip of the season, so let's hope it's an exciting and profitable race.

Morris Dancer


Morris Dancer said...

Maldonado's been given a 10 place grid penalty for missing a weighing:

Anonymous said...

Morris - as you can imagine, a Jenson victory is the very last result I want in relation to my points sell spread bet on him which settles after tomorrow's race, although instead of closing this bet, I took out some insurance by backing him pre-practice to win at 14 (12.4/1 net) with Betfair to win and 4.5/1 elsewhere to gain a podium position.
Although I can't argue with your immaculate logic, I just couldn't resist a small wager on the past, present and next World Champion who starts 4th on the grid and looks absolutely stonking great value at 7.0 or 5.7/1 net with Betfair. I won't bother with a hedge.


Nigel said...

While the Vettel odds are tempting, his priority is to finish, not win.

Button and Hamilton are going to be tough to pass if it's dry (they appear at the top of the speed trap list), and have a pretty good record of not taking each other out.

The Ferrari has been very impressive off the start line, so Vettel might have to watch out for Massa...

Morris Dancer said...

Ah, I was wondering if you'd kept or closed out your Button position. Looks like you're set fair either way.

My concern for Vettel's hopes of winning the race are that the McLaren tends to be faster on race day than in qualifying and, as Mr. Nigel has said, the McLaren will be hard to pass in the race as it has a massive straight line speed advantage.