Well, in betting terms that could not have gone any worse. Exciting qualifying session, but both my bets look rather moronic.
The first session of qualifying saw the usual pointless teams depart, and so did both Williams. Not the best way to celebrate their 600th race.
In Q2 Mercedes made a serious cock-up. By leaving Rosberg in the pits the faster track meant everyone else posted better times and Rosberg was unable to respond and got shunted out in 11th. As one of the men likeliest to get pole that is a shocking error of judgement by the Silver Arrows. Toro Rosso, Sauber and McLaren had a mixed result, with Vergne 16th, Gutierrez 14th, Perez 13th. Force India had a poor (for this year) result with Di Resta 12th and Sutil 15th.
The third session saw several drivers, including the Ferraris and Button, opt for a cunning plan. The soft tyre degrades after about 8-10 laps, but the medium is a second a lap slower. So, the above drivers went for the medium in Q3, hoping the loss in qualifying pace would be offset by the advantage in race strategy.
Annoyingly, Vettel was just a tenth behind Hamilton, who got pole. Although the Vettel-pole bet didn’t come off it was at least reasonable, whereas Hamilton, who went from constant complaining and seventh in P3 to pole position, to finish outside the top 3 looks rather silly. Webber got third.
Interestingly Raikkonen and Grosjean got fourth and fifth, rather better than Lotus often do, and the Lotus looks rather competitive. It’ll be intriguing to see how their pace in the race matches up to those who start ahead of them on the grid.
Ricciardo continued to help his efforts to get Webber’s seat with sixth, and was followed by Massa, Alonso, Button and Hulkenberg.
Must admit to being rather dismayed by the betting. My judgement was severely lacking, and not for the first time this season.
The track is not the easiest to overtake on, so changes in position may largely be due to strategy. It’s not entirely clear, but 3 or 4 of the last races held at the circuit (Nurburgring) have seen safety cars appear.
I was tempted by Rosberg to be top 6, but the odds of 1.74 are not good enough. We can’t be sure how tyre degradation, higher temperatures and so forth will affect the Mercedes, and even if he gets the jump on Button, Hulkenberg and (more difficult) the Ferraris this is a little too uncertain for less than evens.
I’ve backed Raikkonen at 2.42 for a podium, hedged at 1.1 (very short hedge odds but that’s just in case tyres or similar reliability issues arise). He starts fourth, he’s got the record (and still going) for consecutive points finishes and he’s one of the very best drivers on the grid. Plus, he’s right behind Webber, who tends to start poorly.
Another intriguing bet is Lotus to top score at 8 (Ladbrokes). Mercedes may struggle to do this due to Rosberg’s low starting position, which means the top scoring team is probably between Red Bull, Lotus and Ferrari.
Ferrari need their strategic gamble to qualify on medium tyres to pay off. I forget which race this happened, but earlier in the season Red Bull tried a similar ploy, and it really didn’t work. Red Bull are deservedly favourites for this market, but Lotus are right behind them and Webber typically starts badly (there’s also a minor chance of reliability affecting things, as per Vettel’s retirement from Silverstone).
If both Lotuses passed Webber off the line (very possible) that’d make it Hamilton 25, Vettel 18, Raikkonen 15, Grosjean 12 and Webber 10. That’d still give Red Bull the edge, but only by a single point. Given my poor record both this season and this weekend, I’m not tipping the bet, but I have put a few pounds on Lotus to top score at 8. I do not think it the likeliest result, but I do think they have a solid chance and are being underestimated.
So, just one tip: Raikkonen for a podium at 2.42, hedged at 1.1.