Friday, 15 March 2013

Australia: pre-qualifying

A day earlier than usual, as the time difference between the UK and Australia means P3 will be at a very early hour.

Both P1 and P2 were dry, and there is the possibility of rain tomorrow for qualifying. If that is the case then obviously it could make it a bit of a lottery. The race, however, is expected to be dry.

In P1 Vettel refused to be anything but boringly predictable and was fastest, closely followed by Massa. Alonso was 3rd, followed by, Hamilton, Webber, Raikkonen and Rosberg. Sutil, Button and Grosjean rounded out the top 10, and Perez was 11th.

P2 saw Hungry Heidi (Vettel's car) remain at the top, ahead of Webber, Rosberg, Raikkonen and Grosjean. Alonso, Hamilton, Massa, Sutil and Hulkenberg were 6-10.

I'm a bit surprised by how poor the McLaren is. There were pace concerns, and these seem to be entirely genuine. The team is insisting that whilst the car is dodgy now (11th and 13th in P2) the foundation for the season as a whole is sound. We'll see.

At the moment Vettel is clearly favourite for pole. The battle for 2nd will be more interesting, and could perhaps go to Webber, Mercedes or Ferrari. Also worthy of note is Sutil's strong performance in the Force India, coming 8th and 9th, both times ahead of both McLarens.

P2 did see a bit of reliability go wrong for the Mercedes, which may be a problem for qualifying and/or the race. We'll have to wait and see.

Tyre degradation appeared to be much less than in the colder pre-season tests (as Raikkonen and Button foresaw). Although this means the comedy spectacle of half a dozen pit stops appears off the table tyre conservation will remain critical.

Vettel's odds for pole are just 1.76. Given it's a brand new season, and qualifying may be wet, (and my early season form tends to be ropey) I'm not tipping that or betting on it. If things play out broadly as expected I may have a tip in mind for the race, based on a couple of the possible grid results.

If the qualifying session is wet then it's anyone's guess as to how the cars and drivers cope with the different conditions. Last year the Ferrari, generally thought of as a dog, was actually pretty handy when the rain came down.

As Nigel said in the comments to the previous post, seeing who burns through what tyres (especially if qualifying's dry) could be useful when considering the race result.

Morris Dancer


Nigel said...

Hamilton's problem was a detached splitter which took away most of his front downforce. Probably did it when running off track earlier.
It's an easy fix, so not relevant for the rest of the weekend. Don't know about the Rosberg gearbox, though.

Qualifying could be rain showers rather than full rain - a real lottery.

Morris Dancer said...

Indeed. Could also mean the grid doesn't represent pace in the dry whatsoever.

Some out-of-position drivers could offer some interesting betting possibilities.

I was initially thinking of the McLaren drivers for race bets, but now my eye's drifted to Raikkonen (will probably qualify 3rd or 4th row but could improve a lot during the race) and perhaps Alonso/Massa. If they could get 2nd they might well leapfrog Vettel off the line.

Anonymous said...

In terms of sheer value, Webber on offer from Hills at their stand-out price of 11/1 looks attractive.
Should Vettel not win, there are probably 3 or 4 other drivers in the mix and Mark has as good a chance of winning his home GP as any of these.

I've had half a pint's worth on him.

Meanwhile on the spread-betting markets, Vettel's hugely impressive performance in practice has lifted his spread by no less than 17 points with Sporting, from 240-250 to 257-267.
Oh dear, not looking so good from my perspective!

Peter from Putney

Morris Dancer said...

Did you sell Vettel?

If so, that's looking a bit ominous right now.

Q2's start is delayed to midnight UK time. Not sure if I'll be staying up for that.

Morris Dancer said...

To clarify: I will listen to it, but given it'll finish at just after 12.30 in the morning and the markets will take until 12.45-1am to get running I'm dubious as to whether my best decision-making will happen at such a time.

My plan is to write a pre-race article during today, probably without a tip. If I dream one up I'll add it in the comments (that said, I will scan the markets in case anything jumps out at me).

The last time I didn't offer any tip at all for a race weekend was the European Grand Prix in 2009.

Anonymous said...

"Did you sell Vettel?"

Er....yes Morris .... thanks for reminding me! That said, a mid-point spread for him of 262 points before "a ball has been kicked" in what most expect to be a more competitive season does look like a tremendous ask.
That's equivalent to him winning an average of 13.8 points in each of the 19 GPs. Were that actually to prove to be the case then we're all in for a very dull and monotonous season.

Peter from Putney.