Saturday, 26 October 2013

India: pre-race

Before qualifying it emerged that Charlie Whiting, race director, had spoken to the drivers saying they could go outside the white lines as the astroturf beyond would slow them down and therefore they wouldn’t get an advantage. Given the penalties Grosjean received for a great pass on Massa and Ricciardo received in Suzuka earlier in the season this seems a very inconsistent line to take.

Q1 threw up a major surprise. The pointless teams all went out, as did Maldonado, but, surprisingly, so did Grosjean. He went for the medium tyre and just failed to make it through. So, he’ll start 17th. That really shouldn’t’ve happened, and is a clear mistake. With the soft tyre (all save Vettel used it) he would’ve made it easily. Quite glad I didn’t back him to be top 3 now.

Q2 saw both Force Indias and Toro Rossos part ways with qualifying, with Gutierrez in 16th and Bottas 15th.

Q1 saw an extremely dominant Vettel pole. It’s possible he would have managed it even had he set it on the soft tyre. Hamilton and Rosberg followed, and although Webber was 4th he did set his time on the medium tyre. Massa, Raikkonen and Hulkenberg followed, with Alonso, Perez and Button all setting their qualifying time on the medium tyre.

After qualifying Hamilton joked about himself and Rosberg playing the team game and trying to set up a road block ahead of Vettel. Although the German clearly has the fastest driver/car combination, the Mercedes can be very swift off the line, and it is possible they could both (or one of them) get the jump on Vettel. It’s hard to overtake in India.

I don’t think Alonso, or the McLarens, will benefit all that much from their strategic effort, as they’ve lost grid positions to many other cars and those immediately behind them (Ricciardo and the Force Indias) will almost certainly try the same thing.

Webber could be another bag of monkeys. Vettel and the Mercedes may well come out into traffic. If they can’t get something like 10 laps plus out of the soft tyres then they could end up behind the likes of Alonso and the McLarens (or more medium tyre cars). That would allow Webber to drive around in clear air whilst his rivals lose performance. There’s also the possibility that the Mercedes will get past Vettel off the line and keep him behind them, preventing him getting far ahead of Webber.

So, I think Webber will be Vettel’s chief rival tomorrow (I’d highlighted him for the win or a podium, and was pleased when Eddie Jordan, after the repeat of qualifying, made a similar suggestion).

I’ve backed Webber at 6 to win, hedged at 2.5. There’s a massive divergence between Ladbrokes (3.5) and the Betfair odds. Whilst Vettel is the favourite, I think 6 is too long for Webber.

In addition, it’ll be interesting to see how Grosjean (out of position in 17th) manages to do.

The race starts at the odd time of 9.30am.

Morris Dancer


  1. The usual helpful summary from Morris and I can't argue with his hedged bet on Webber, although to be honest this wouldn't quite be my pick.

    I thought his most salient comment was his last, when he pointed out : "it’ll be interesting to see how Grosjean (out of position in 17th) manages to do"

    It will indeed Morris, it will indeed - one thing's for sure - based on his current form and his car's pace, he looks certain to finish a great deal higher than his 17th grid position - with a top 6 place, on offer at 11/8 from bet365, looking very much within his grasp. A podium finish is probably too big an ask but I couldn't resist a small nibble at Betfred's generous odds of 8/1.
    That's me all done for tomorrow.
    Good luck everyone.

  2. Many thanks as always for the post, Mr Dancer.

    I'm keen on the winning margin this time. Considering Vettel won by more than 8secs in both the previous India races (plus the bet lasts even if Vettel doesn't) I'm having a sniff at 17/20 for 8.5sec+ (WH)

    Grosjean isn't a 17th place finisher, I agree, and I've taken top6 and podium. Didn't get as good a price as Peter though - I'd just done today's horses, was being lazy doing everything on one site and so inadvertently took WHs less generous offers.

    Webber for podium? I'll have a think about that one. Will probably come back to it after a glass of wine and take it.

  3. Thanks, chaps.

    Although I rate Grosjean highly I'm not sure he'll be able to make a podium, perhaps not even a top 6.

    My reasoning is that it's very hard to pass in India, and half the field will start on medium tyres, mitigating any potential strategic advantage he might otherwise enjoy. The Red Bulls, Raikkonen and Alonso are likely to be within the top 6, leaving the Mercedes, Hulkenberg, McLarens etc fighting over the two remaining spots.

    Anyway, let's hope Webber wins and Grosjean's second.

  4. I like Geoff's idea of backing the winning margin - with Vettel being so much better than the rest of the field, this always has a value feel about it.
    Speaking of value, those nice people at Bet365 gave me odds of evens for a winning margin of >8 seconds.

  5. Incidentally, Webber's odds are down to 4.7, so you could (if you're cautious or backed it and wish you hadn't) hedge it right now for a small but safe bet.

    The margin bet could be deceptive in its temptation. Of the 5 consecutive wins Vettel has enjoyed 2 were over the 8s margin, 3 were under. If his race goes according to plan (stay first, build a lead, exit the pit stops without traffic, complete the FT crossword on the way to victory) he could easily make it a big margin, but if he has an issue or is ordered to keep tyre wear low (it was the medium in Korea that exploded on Perez's car) then even a dominant win could have an artificially low winning margin as he takes it easy.

    Anyway, if Webber wins by 20 seconds we can all be happy.

  6. At some stage, for whatever reason, it simply must come to pass that Vettel fails to win a Grand Prix ...... try to imagine it folks!
    I did just that and found myself in great difficulty deciding who might take the chequered flag - it could be any of 6 or 7 different drivers.
    In the end I was seduced by Coral's sexy odds of 33/1 on offer against Lewis and stuck a crisp oncer on him.

  7. A couple of interesting points regarding the tires (sorry Moris, 'tyres' - which sends my spell checker nuts).

    Paul Hembery - Pirelli's F1 tire chief - was asked why the softer compound this year and not last year. He replied that it was an attempt to stop any 1 stop strategies.

    It was announced on the NBC SN coverage of qualifying that Pirelli have stated they will NOT supply F1 tires next season unless there is substantially more pre-season testing. Given events at Silverstone etc, and the time of the season, they might have a good bargaining position.

    Regarding the race, Vettel has had pole, led every lap, and won, both preceding races here, and looks likely to repeat. Another yawn procession in prospect, which I am not getting up at 4.30am to watch :-(

    Tim B

  8. Mr. Putney: oncer?! What hellish word is that?

    Mercedes seem to have remastered the art of going backwards in the race. I also think they'll wear their tyres more than Lotus or Red Bull. However, those odds are very long.

    Mr. B: I recall reading the Pirelli threat elsewhere. Far too late (one would assume) for anyone else to get the gig, and they do have a strong case for it. The necessary tyre change really helped to wreck the title race, as the Red Bull was fast but too hard on its tyres and teams that had done a good job (Lotus, Force India) of managing them were disadvantaged (Lotus have since bounced back but Force India may slide down the Constructors' order).

  9. definition of Oncer: ( Brit ) (formerly) a one-pound note
    Morris - evidently you're too young to have encountered this term - also perhaps it's more "South" rather than "North" - you lot tended to go more for 'apporth and such like, no offence intended of course.

    Getting back to the GP - if one is really looking for sexy odds, how about Bet Victor's offering of 250/1 against Grosjean winning? He hasn't got a chance in hell of course, but then again if he's best-priced at only 6/4 to finish in the top six, these odds do seem a little extreme.