Friday, 12 April 2013

China: pre-qualifying

As suggested in the comments (by Mr. Nigel, I think) Massa did indeed prove to be faster in practice than the markets suspected. More on that below.

The weather for both sessions was entirely dry, and is expected to remain so for the entire weekend.

In P1 Rosberg led Hamilton, and then Webber led Vettel. Alonso was fifth, followed by Button, Massa, Sutil, Grosjean and Di Resta.

In P2 Massa was fastest, followed by Raikkonen and Alonso. Rosberg, Webber and Button were next, followed by Hamilton, Sutil, Di Resta and Vettel.

So, the Force Indias seem to have kept their good pace, although we'll have to wait and see how their pit stops go.

The tyres are soft and medium. There's a pretty substantial pace difference so, at the sharp end, qualifying will be on the softs. However, the medium tyre lasts far better, so 2 stops seem possible. Starting 11th or 12th the drivers may be tempted by going for a long medium stint. The potential problem is that they'll be slower, get passed and end up not making much headway. On the other hand, they'll have perhaps a pit stop in hand, which is a big advantage.

I caught the back end of P2 and it seems that the Ferraris are perhaps best in terms of outright pace. However, because medium tyre pace is pretty close between all the top teams this means that there could be an extra premium on qualifying and the start. Mercedes also look good, with Rosberg ahead of Hamilton in both sessions to date.

However, it would be foolish to write off Vettel's prospects (although Webber could be in with a chance of pole). It's interesting that at Ferrari, Mercedes and Red Bull the driver who has not won a championship is putting in better times than the one who has (although Alonso was faster than Massa in P1).

At the moment I suspect Massa, Vettel, Webber and Rosberg are the prime contenders for pole.

McLaren's looking alright on the longer runs but it's qualifying pace is not looking quite so good.

No tip for qualifying, as P3 is 4am to 5am and qualifying itself starts at 7am.

Massa may actually have a shot at the win, if he qualifies well and Alonso's a bit further back the team can hardly afford to tell him to back off. He was something like 38 for the win and 32 for pole. I put on a tiny sum for the pole and am looking to hedge before P3 (probably do it so that I'm evens for any other winner and ahead for Massa).

Good to see the pb2 early discussion thread yielding a couple of good trading bets.

Morris Dancer


Peter said...

After booking a decent profit on Massa, I had a few quid this morning on Vettel to win at 4.8 mainly as insurance .... that's around 50% better odds than he was before the first two practice sessions and surely has to be value for a driver of his exceptional ability in an exceptional car.

That said I don't expect him to win tomorrow. Who will is currently anyone's guess - it could be any one of six or seven.

I agree with Morris that Perez is looking rather out of his depth at present - I wonder if he'll last the course with McLaren?

Morris Dancer said...

I think Kovalainen was there a few seasons. Raikkonen won't want to return... Webber could be interesting. McLaren has a history of relatively few team orders, Webber's fast, Ferrari may prefer to keep the in-form Massa now.

Nigel said...

I'm not sure many of the top 10 will start on the softs.

The degradation on a full fuel load seems extreme, and if they've already abused the tyres in quali, they are not going to last much more than four or five laps (Rosberg did 13 laps on his first stint last year). Losing track position that early in the race, before the field stretches out, could be costly.
Conversely, a short stint on low fuel at the end of the race ought to stretch to at least 8 laps without too much time penalty.

The net cost of a pit stop is around 17.5 seconds (nb always with the risk it will take significantly longer).
A two stop strategy might mean 23-25 laps each time on the mediums, versus around 15-16 for a three stopper, so assuming the loss of around a second per lap for the additional eight laps of the two stop stints, either strategy could be competitive.

Not running in Q3 gives new tyres to start on, and passing ought to be relatively low cost in tyre life if the car has enough race pace, so I'm not sure how valuable pole will be this year.

Bottom line is that going all out for pole might cost winning the race, which makes betting on qualifying a bit more of a lottery than usual.

Nigel said...

"Webber could be interesting"

Yes, but with a team of Button and Webber who's going to sponsor them ... Saga Holidays ?

Morris Dancer said...

But starting say 8th on medium tyres could be worse than 1st on softs. Softer tyres have a better get away, and it's easy to drop several place early on.

Button and Webber could be sponsored by whoever also sponsors the Ashes.

Nigel said...

"But starting say 8th on medium tyres could be worse than 1st on softs."

Possible, but equally possible not.

The softs are anything up to 1.5 quicker than the medium, but lose at least 0.5 sec per lap.
So scrubbed softs are going to be no more than a second quicker than the mediums on the first lap of the race, and no faster at all within two laps.
And the tyres could well be shot after five race laps.

Starting on the softs therefore gains maybe a couple of seconds of track position, at the cost of putting you back in the middle of the pack within five laps.
And means a really short stint which then forces a three stop strategy.

Not saying it can't work for a quick enough car - just that I don't expect many of the top 10 to try it.

Morris Dancer said...

Massa likes the softs:

If he can get them to work *and* set decent times on the medium compound he could be set fair for the race.

If only someone had suggested backing him for pole or the win...

More seriously, this also means Ferrari are in good shape, but (alas) they're now 2.87 joint-favourites (with Red Bull) for top-scoring and favourite at 4.5 for a double podium finish (the latter is too short for me).

Nigel said...

I agree that Ferrari's odds are now a bit too short to be tempting, even if they do have a serious chance.

It's also possible that tomorrow's practice will allow one or two more drivers to arrive at a setup which is not so disastrous for the soft tyres.

Force India look to have pretty decent race pace, too.
Can Di Resta finally exploit it (on race pace at least, he's looking faster than Sutil again) ?

This GP certainly presents a confusing range of possible results. Having succeeded in finding one profitable bet, unless the right odds present themselves, I might sit on my laurels (though I also have a small bet on Hamilton FTW at about 9/1).

Morris Dancer said...

I'd prefer Rosberg to Hamilton right now.

If Massa gets pole I'll be delighted, but I still intend to have a bet on the race. The advantage of a confusing situation is that someone's odds are bound to be far too long.

Nigel said...

"I'd prefer Rosberg to Hamilton right now. "

I think they're pretty evenly matched at the moment.

It's a little difficult to deduce their race pace from practice, as Hamilton's longest run was done on older tyres (which lasted for a total of 27 laps), but as far as I can see, there's very little between the two.

Also, we haven't seen enough to judge qualifying pace.

I only opted for Hamilton because he has a better record, but at the moment, I'm hard pushed to choose between the two.
I suspect Hamilton will be a bit quicker in the race, but Rosberg might manage his strategy better, as in Malaysia.

Nigel said...

Feeling very happy about the Hamilton bet right now - though to be fair, I think Rosberg's P3 problem which meant he got no run on the soft tyre probably cost him in being able to fine tune the setup.

Will probably hedge a bit ahead of the race, and look for other opportunities.

The starters on primes might be interesting to look at - possible podium ?

I think I'll avoid Ferrari; they'll probably take the lead early on, as they can clearly run longer than the rest on the option, but it seems their pace on the primes is simply not good enough to win.

Morris Dancer said...

Making good calls this weekend, Mr. Nigel.

Will probably put up the pre-race piece this morning. Got a few potential ideas in mind for the race.

Nigel said...

btw, those with a penchant for jokes in really bad taste should take a look at the front page of this morning's Times.

Peter said...

Who will achieve the fastest lap?

No fools those bookies - while Vettel starts well back on the grid, largely of his own making as a result of canny tyre selection, he is favourite across the board to achieve the fastest lap in tomorrow's race.

I suppose the theory is that no one is faster than the young German when he's chasing, which he's likely to be doing in the closing stages of the Grand Prix.

There are considerable variations however in the odds on offer for him being the quickest - while Bet365 offers a modest 5/2, Hills are far more generous with a price of 4/1, which looks like good value to me.

If however you feel that another leading driver will achieve the fastest lap, bet365 have some pretty sexy odds on offer:
Hamilton ...... 8/1
Alonso ........ 8/1
Rosberg ....... 9/1
Raikkonen .... 10/1
Massa .........12/1
Grosjean ......25/1

You pays your money and you takes your chances as they say.

Nigel said...

FLAP is extremely likely to go to a driver on options at the end of the race, so Vettel looks good - though I wouldn't ignore Webber if he can overcome today's kick in the guts.
The Force Indias might be in with a long shot.

Morris Dancer said...

Not really tempted by that. If I were, I might look at the odds of Hulkenberg and the McLarens/Force Indias. They should pit late on, and that could be more critical than pure pace as they'll have a few good laps on low fuel.

Anyway, going to look through the markets now.

Nigel said...

Massa back at 32 for the win.

I'm glad I laid the bet, but also tempted to revisit it (resisting for now). I think that the Mercedes has the pace to win, but the Ferrari isn't far off, and I have the feeling that Alonso might have optimised his car a bit more for qualifying than the race.

Not sure that Rosberg won't be on the podium along with Vettel.

Nigel said...

Re - fastest lap, it's a bit of a lottery, as it will depend on the length of the stints the Vettel et al have to run on the option at the end of the race.
Not all of them will be able to push 100% for fear of destroying the tyre.

Morris Dancer said...

Sorry for the delay. I'm caught in two minds about whether Hamilton, Raikkonen and Alonso stand a better chance of victory than Vettel.