Q1 saw the pointless teams ditched as usual, but there was a stark divergence between the Williams’ drivers. Bottas was 1st (in Q1 only), and Maldonado 18th. Turns out money can only buy seats, not speed. Surprising to see such a difference between the two drivers, though. Sutil went out in 17th, and may have suffered some sort of technical problem as he peeled off after his final lap.
During Q2 it was confirmed Sutil had a problem, namely a slow puncture.
Q2 saw the surprise departure of Rosberg. The Mercedes seemed to be the best of the rest, so that’s quite a shock. Not only that, he’s 14th, behind Ricciardo, Di Resta and Button (although Button suffers a 3 place grid penalty for ignoring red flags during practice). Massa is behind Rosberg, followed by Vergne. Impressively, Sauber got both of their cars into the top 10.
Q3 was surprisingly close, but Vettel narrowly got pole ahead of Webber. Grosjean continues his strong form with 3rd, followed by Hulkenberg, who is just ahead of 5th-placed Hamilton. Alonso won’t be too disappointed with 6th, and 7th for Perez is very solid. Kovalainen, Bottas and Gutierrez round out the top 10.
The race is expected to be a one stop affair, minimising the possibilities for strategic shenanigans.
After qualifying Gutierrez got a 10 place grid penalty for impeding Maldonado.
Without checking the odds, bets that may interest me are:
Bottas to score points (finish top 10)
Hulkenberg to be top 6
Both Lotuses to score points
No Safety Car
Grosjean to win without Vettel (and Webber?)
I decided against backing Bottas. As Mr. Putney said in the comments of the previous article (I’d already put together the above list, except the last bet, at that time) the odds of less than evens for a chap who’s never scored a point and has Button, Rosberg and Massa behind him, and who starts 9th, is far too short.
Hulkenberg was 1.5-1.6 to be top 6. Again, whilst I feel he has the pace that’s too short. He’s had bad luck recently with car reliability and a drive-through, and last time out the car tailed off during the race and he went inexorably backwards.
The usual Ladbrokes market for both cars of a team to score points was missing, rather oddly. Instead I checked the highest scoring team market. Red Bull was a comically tragic 1.05, and Lotus were second, at 11. That may be worth a look. Grosjean has been very fast lately, and Kovalainen seems to be solid right from the off. If Webber has an alternator failure then Lotus could be well-placed to claim the spoils (I’m going to check the last six races and see how often that sort of issue has arisen). Webber's failed to finish 2 of the last 6 races, but one of those was because his car was rammed by another. So, decided against this bet.
No Safety Car was 1.5. Given we have a single race to go on I think that’s too short.
Annoyingly, Ladbrokes have also taken down their winner without Vettel/Webber market, which has only made one or two appearances. The Betfair winner without Vettel market does recur, however. Webber's 1.6 and Grosjean 4.6 (big gap to the lay odds, though, which are 6.8). I was tempted by that, but thought to check the qualifying times. Grosjean was seven-tenths off of Webber. If that’s anywhere near replicated in the race then it’d take a Red Bull failure for him to be winner without Vettel (and, in that case, I’d be more tempted by Lotus to top score at 11). That’s particularly annoying, as I was going to back that until I realised the pace difference.
Right… so I’m going to have to try and come up with some more bets to consider. Given the above, I thought it’d be cunning to try and consider how the chaps out of position might fare. So, here’s what I came up with:
Lay Hulkenberg to be top 6
Perez to be top 6
Kovalainen to be top 6 (or lay to be top 10, depends how he handles the tyres)
Lay Bottas for points
Back Di Resta for points
Back Rosberg for points
There’s a gap between the odds of Hulkenberg to be top 6, and not to be (namely 1.55 and 1.79). So, on the 1.79 basis there’s no value there. Shame, but there we are.
Perez is driving for his F1 future, was about a quarter of a second ahead of Kovalainen and about a tenth off of both Alonso and Hamilton. But odds of 1.5 are just not good enough. Am I being too picky, or are the bookies (and exchange, to be fair) being very tight?
Kovalainen is evens to be top 6. Although the harder compounds should stop him screwing the tyres I’m not sure whether he’ll make the top 6, and evens isn’t long enough.
Bottas has a lay value, for points, of 2.5. Probably the most tempting bet so far. I’d prefer it to be nearer the 1.8 back value, but then, if I got to pick and choose my odds betting would be simpler all round.
Rosberg is about 1.5-1.6 for points and Di Resta evens. Neither is too appealing. Rosberg was over half a second off Hamilton in qualifying. Not sure if it’s a car issue of if Texas just doesn’t suit him. In fact, I’m now looking at the lay value of 1.69. Hmm.
I checked last year’s race, and Rosberg was significantly off of Schumacher’s pace as well (nearly a second). He qualified 17th and finished 13th (he would’ve been 1 or 2 places lower, but Webber retired, as did Vergne). Rosberg will start 12th (he qualified 14th but penalties for Button and Gutierrez will bump him up the grid).
On the basis of his bad race and continuing poor performance this weekend, coupled with Mercedes recent habit of buggering up strategy, I’ve decided to lay Rosberg for points at 1.69. This is the twelfth bet I’ve looked at, which may be a record.
That was unexpectedly difficult. Hopefully he’ll have a harmless crash at the start. The race start is at 7pm.