Sunday, 21 April 2013

Bahrain: post-race analysis

A slightly frustrating race, from both a spectator and gambler perspective. Alonso's DRS problems robbed us of any chance of a fight for the win and Massa's double tyre issue prevented him from getting anywhere near the podium. However, congratulations to Mr. Putney, whose Vettel bet paid off handsomely.

The start saw Rosberg get away cleanly, Alonso pass Vettel and then lose second to the German swiftly. It was clear early on that Rosberg's primary direction of travel would be backwards, with both the others much faster. However, Alonso's DRS became jammed open and his hope of victory disappeared like a virgin in a brothel. He managed to reach the pits, they manually slammed it shut, but then it came open again and a second pit stop was necessary.

This screwed up his race. Not only was his first pit much earlier than he would have liked, the second cost him another 19 seconds or so and lack of DRS cost him pace and overtaking opportunities.

I'm not sure if Stefano Domenicali spent the weekend punching mirrors but Massa had problems too. His front wing was damaged slightly, he suffered massive rear tyre delamination[sp] (not just degradation, the whole thing was falling to pieces, akin to Hamilton's practice problem) and then suffered another significant rear tyre issue later.

Vettel sailed away into the sunset, but the competition was much closer behind him. The Lotus team had great strategy and it's nice to see Grosjean return to some form after a quiet start to the season. He took the last podium spot, behind his team mate, away from Di Resta, which must be galling for the Scot. However, fourth is still a strong finish.

Hamilton's race was a bit unusual. He seemed destined for a poor return as he was 8-10 throughout, but then his tyre management seemed to pay off and in the latter stages he ascended to fifth, after a titanic tussle with Webber. The Australian also lost out, possibly on the last lap, to Perez. After Martin Whitmarsh said the Mexican needed to 'get his elbows out' the young driver certainly seems to have done that, passing multiple drivers, driving hard and, arguably, dirty. Button and Alonso both complained about his behaviour on the radio, but that's impossible to assess just listening to it on the radio.

Alonso finished eighth, which isn't bad considering his problems but it seemed that a sixth place could've been possible before Perez passed him fairly late on.

Rosberg had a bloody awful race, going all the way back to ninth. Given his team mate started there but rose to fifth it must be pretty disheartening. Chewing up the tyres remains the problem of Mercedes. Button got the last point, but he looked like a higher points position was achievable earlier in the race.

Sutil was unlucky to finish thirteenth. He had a puncture very early on, and that basically ruined his race. Massa ended up fifteenth, but that wasn't his fault. Pic (in the Caterham) managed to beat Gutierrez (Spanish for "Fired after one season if he doesn't improve"), which is a nice little result for the team.

Had he not had terminal woe, I think Alonso would've contested the win with Vettel. However, I still think that Mr. Putney's bet on Vettel was better judged than mine on Alonso, because Alonso was 2.6 and Vettel 4.1 (well, that and Vettel actually won, but you see what I mean). I was quite surprised that whilst some (especially Mercedes) were chewing their tyres the Red Bull seemed to have no real issue.

Worth also remarking that the Lotus remained kind to its tyres, and a double podium finish is very tasty for them.

After four races, here are the standings:
Vettel 77
Raikkonen 67
Hamilton 50
Alonso 47

And Constructors':
Red Bull 109
Lotus 93
Ferrari 77

Ferrari had a shocker of a day, but it was all bad luck. Their car is fast and pretty good on its tyres, and both its drivers are doing well. There's also team harmony, unlike in Red Bull and perhaps McLaren. If Grosjean can maintain his form then Lotus could yet challenge for the Constructors' title. I still think Vettel, Alonso and Raikkonen will be the main contenders for the Drivers' title.

I'm a bit irked that a bet which I think was reasonable and could've come off didn't due to bad luck. However, luck's all part of gambling and over the course of a season these things tend to even themselves out.

With a standard £10 stake, this weekend was a loss of 46 pence, with hedging, and £20 without (first weekend where there's a divergence between hedging and not). After a tasty start in Australia things haven't been so good, but it was nice to get the first qualifying tip right and overall the first four races are green either way.

I'll be doing my usual mini-review of the first part of the season between now and Spain, which is in 3 weeks.

Morris Dancer


Peter said...

A very handsome profit for me today from Vettel's win backed at surprisingly generous average odds of 3/1, which more than made up for minor disappointments on Rosberg not making the top 6 and Ricciardo not making the top 10.

Vettel's win was doubly satisfying as last week I took fright and closed my SELL bet on his season's points at a £3 profit - had I not done so that bet would now be showing around a £50 loss .... a lucky escape methinks!

Morris Dancer said...

Congratulations on the (effectively) double-win.

It's also worth mentioning that Raikkonen rose from 9th to 2nd. I really didn't think he'd be able to do that, and if he'd started further up it'd be interesting to see how he would've done.

Missed the Perez action because I forgot about the highlights, but the comments in the BBC piece ( suggest it was entirely fair and the BBC commentators were needlessly wetting themselves.

Nigel said...

The Perez/Button fight was a little more elbows out than you expect from teammates, but Button was the first to edge Perez off the track, so all's fair etc.

One thing I noticed was that for some reason Mercedes ran two stints on the used options (which didn't perform at all well in the race), unlike any of the other three stoppers.
A tactical error which might have cost both drivers a couple of positions.

I was bemused by Hamilton's remarks after the race about not understanding why the car seemed transformed after his second stop (hint - that's when he took on the prime tyre).
Does he not understand the importance of tyres ?

Morris Dancer said...

Significantly unimpressed with this. Red Bull are still bitching about the tyres:

When you've had an easy victory and are leading both title races it's a bit rich to whine, I think.

Begun writing the mini-review. I plan to put it up in about a week.

Nigel said...

Probably because they realise they got a bit lucky this weekend.

Without his reliability problems, Alonso could have challenged for the win - and Vettel would not have had such an easy time had he not been able to front run, clear of traffic (something which greatly magnifies any advantage).

Lotus too might have had their chances to win with a better qualifying result.

It is indeed a bit much to whine - but they know any change to more durable tyres would benefit them disproportionately.

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