The first qualifying bet of the year was green, with hedging, and red without. Reasonably happy with that, though obviously I would've preferred Alonso to be on pole.
Q1 was as tedious as usual, with the exception of a statistical quirk. Both Williams drivers had identical lap times. Bottas went through because he set his first, Maldonado joined Gutierrez (who has not been very impressive so far this year) and the pointless teams.
Q2 saw the remaining Williams and Sauber exit, and likewise both Toro Rossos. Perez and Grosjean, unlike their team mates, both failed to reach the final phase of qualifying.
Q3 happily saw everyone actually trying to set a fast lap time. Hamilton's 5 place gearbox penalty and Webber's 3 place penalty afforded the Force Indias a great opportunity to be higher than they usually would be, and Massa slyly went out on hard tyres, knowing this. Rosberg was fastest, slightly surprisingly, with Vettel second. Alonso was third and decided against finishing his final lap. Hamilton and Webber are next, but both will be shuffled down, so Massa will start fourth, alongside his team mate. Di Resta and Sutil are next, with Raikkonen a surprisingly lowly ninth and Button a less surprisingly lowly tenth.
Given long run pace I think Ferrari are sitting pretty. The Lotus is also quick but they start ninth (eighth, upon checking, due to the penalties) and eleventh. Red Bull may be a tiny bit slower than the two rival teams and will probably suffer worse tyre degradation. Not sure why the Lotus is so slow. They may've cocked up the setup, or made it very biased towards the race rather than qualifying. We've seen in the recent past Raikkonen climb from seventh to first, so they may yet do well.
With grid penalties, here's how the top 10 stacks up:
Massa (hard tyre)
Mercedes are worried about their rear tyre wear, as epitomised by Hamilton's problems in P3. Red Bull seem to have worse tyre wear and slightly slower pace than Ferrari, and Alonso is driving very well. He improved in both races he finished, and I've therefore backed him at 2.62 for the win (hedged at 1.25) despite my dislike of short odds.
As Mr. Nigel pointed out in the comments of the pre-qualifying piece, Lotus really seem to have lost a lot of pace. I can't see the Force Indias going further ahead, and expect Rosberg to go backwards. Hamilton will be interesting to watch as he's fast but the tyres might not be his friend on Sunday. It'll also be fascinating to see how Massa's oddball strategy plays out. Fourth on hard tyres is a good place to start, but he may suffer slightly at the start (softer tyres start better).
Hard to try and bet on, but the grid is set up nicely for the race. I'm hoping for an exciting, and profitable, race.