Saturday, 24 August 2013

Belgium: pre-race

As predicted, qualifying was wetter than a mermaid in the shower, but I got almost all of my other forecasts wrong (just as well I didn’t offer a tip). It was also a staggeringly entertaining qualifying hour.

Q1 was the most interesting of the year by a mile. It was raining, so all went out on intermediate tyres, but towards the end it dried up. Caterham and Marussia bravely opted for the slicks, which looked like the wrong choice until the last lap or so which saw Van Der Garde, Bianchi and Chilton all make it to Q2 (Pic must feel a bit disappointed not to have joined them). Terrible day for both Toro Rosso and Williams, as all four of their cars fell at this first hurdle. Gutierrez will also be disappointed to only be 21 out of 22 cars.

Q2 was slightly less dramatic as it was, essentially, dry. The 3 intruders on Q2 all left at this stage, with Van Der Garde getting a good 14th. Hulkenberg, Sutil and Perez made up 11-13.

Q3 was a fantastic session. It started off raining, so 9 out of 10 drivers rushed to the track on slicks whilst it was still dry enough… only it wasn’t. That canny Scot Di Resta waited half a lap or so then went out on intermediates. All the other 9 pitted immediately for intermediates (more rain meant it was too wet for slicks) and by the time the second chap (Massa) went across the line Di Resta had made the most of the drier track and was 1.7s up the road. For almost the whole session it seemed he’d have his first pole (Force India also got pole here a while ago… maybe 2009, when Fisichella managed it).

But, there was a twist. Rosberg just pipped Di Resta’s time. Then, with only three drivers still eligible for a lap, (Webber, Vettel and Hamilton) the track suddenly started drying. Webber got provisional pole, then Vettel, and then Hamilton. Four in a row for the Briton, and Di Resta, although undoubtedly disappointed, will still start from a joint-career best of 5th.

Congrats to Swiss Bob, incidentally, who got just over £1 on Hamilton for pole at 360/1 in the dying moments of Q3. Although £1 is small, a 36,000% rate of return over about 3 minutes is not a displeasing thing.

Button will also be happy with 6th, whilst Grosjean and Raikkonen should be disappointed with 7th and 8th. However, not as annoyed as Alonso and Massa, who start 9th and 10th. That’s just not good enough.

In title terms this continues to reinforce the idea that Hamilton is Vettel’s closest rival, despite being 4th, behind Raikkonen and Alonso. However, Vettel’s 2nd is still a great place from which to start.

The weather forecasts suggest lighter rain is entirely possible (though not quite probable) tomorrow, and today perfectly illustrated just how difficult to predict and how changeable weather can be at the circuit.

It’s interesting to check the times ( In Q2 Raikkonen and Alonso were very fast, and very close together. Alonso will benefit from rear gunner Massa, and Raikkonen from having his team mate right ahead (who will presumably move over to let the Finn through). On recent form I can’t see Di Resta staying in 5th. Button’s a little harder to call, though.

I did consider a few potential bets, but decided to back Hamilton for the win at 3.9, hedged at 1.5. He’s had four poles in a row, but in the three prior races only one once. So, why do I think he’ll win (or stands a good chance, at least)? In Hungary, he won, so that’s clear. At Silverstone, he was on for the win when his tyre came apart. Now, he may have won that or not, but he stood a realistic chance. In Germany, the sport was using the one-off interim tyres whilst Pirelli changed their compounds after the failures in the UK. So far it seems like Mercedes aren’t suffering especially with tyre wear.

On Pirelli, apparently Michelin have popped up and indicated (despite the very low amount of time left) they would be able to supply tyres in 2014.

Spa is always a cracking race, and tomorrow should be no exception. Let’s hope Hamilton enjoys a great victory.

Morris Dancer


  1. Still smiling.

    I put £5 on Hamilton to win at 4.8 beginning of Aug. and that's still on having won on him the last race at similar odds. I wasn't even going to bet on the qualifying but saw Kimi at 32 so bet £2 on the basis that he'd come in, and him winning Qualy 2 enabled me to bail at 9 so made a tidy profit and thought that was that.

    The last couple of laps happened so quickly, one minute I was trying to put a tenner on Di Resta, which fortunately didn't fill, the next I see/hear that the lap times of Vettel and Hamilton were coming in and shortly after saw he'd crossed the line with a couple of seconds clear for one more lap, I also saw he was at 360 so chucked £2 on, followed by the drama of thinking it hadn't filled then realising I'd got just over a quid on.

    Exchange betting is awesome.

  2. I'm not surprised (although I am rather jealous).

    Hope the race turns out nicely. A Vettel and Alonso DNF pair would suit me well (no Alonso bet on the race but I laid him at 1.44 to finish in the top 3).

  3. Congrats Swiss B .... very, very shrewd of you and by far the longest winning odds I have ever seen on a related site.

  4. Thanks Peter, shame to think that the odds of me ever again winning a bet like that are a lot longer than the odds on the bet. . .

    Race should be entertaining, usual lottery with it being wet but Hamilton at the front should give him a great advantage if he gets off the line well, currently 3.8 on Betfair which I think is generous and will come in immediately if he gets the aforesaid start.

    Am also toying with putting a couple of quid on Kimi who's at 15, seems ridiculous value for a wet race.

  5. Somewhat off topic but what a great pairing Eddie Jordan and David Coulthard have become. Whilst there's obviously no love lost between them, they never fail to spark off one another.
    I've really come to look forward to Eddie's contributions .... always seeming to be polite and courteous but he can really stick the stiletto in and twist it at times and he always seems well informed and on the inside track in terms of knowing what's really going on in F1.

    Oh and the eye candy with the mike isn't bad either!

  6. As my final bet on today's race, I've laid the deployment of the safety car at 1.48 with Betfair - that equates to odds of 2.08/1 or 1.98/1 net of their 5% commission. These odds are probably about right if the race is run predominantly in the wet but way too generous should it turn dry.

  7. Two winners out of three for me today with Daniel Ricciardo just squeezing into the top 10 at 7/4 and No Safety Car Deployment at 2/1 combining for a tidy profit. With his 8th place finish, I just missed out on Grosjean making it into the top 6, but this was far outweighed on the plus side by benefiting my SELL spread bet on his season's points, so all in all a very good afternoon betting wise and an enjoyable if somewhat routine and uneventful GP.