Sunday, 17 November 2013

America: pre-race

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.

Morris Dancer


  1. Like you Morris, I'm struggling to find any value.
    Backing Grosjean to win at 37/1 was value, but it's money down the pan all the same. To recover my modest losses there, my only other bet this weekend is backing Massa at 6/4 to achieve a points finish which I consider a very fair price. He's produced some solid performances in the second half of the season and, whispering this very quietly, has sometimes out-performed his more illustrious team mate.
    Fingers crossed for an exciting and eventful race and good luck everyone.

  2. Good afternoon to everyone!

    A very interesting analysis Mr Dancer and many thanks for it. Also to Peter for your followup.

    I also looked at my usual Winning Margin bet. Earlier in the season WH offered the bet either side of 8secs. That later slid to a 8.5sec margin and today I see it is either side of 9.5 secs. Interesting that they have moved the time as well as the odds but that reflects the massive change in winning margin. Over the course of the season the average winning margin has been 8.35 seconds, but in the last six Grand Prix a much higher 18.32 seconds.

    This late in the season I'm going out on a limb: Hamilton - winner of the last two races here (7 and 12) Although the Merc doesn't have the pace of Red Bull I can't resist the hope of Vettel getting a shunt or mechanical failure. At 25-1 with WH for the win that's got to be worth a couple of speculative groats, backed up with a couple more for a podium.

    If he gets nowhere I'll ask Mr Dancer to quietly memory-hole this comment. If he wins I'll go on a Smithson/Obama style betting victory rampage for years and you'll never hear the last of it.

    Massa has been top 6 in the last 6 outings and I've tipped that one here in the comments on previous races. I'm on points at 6/4 alongside Peter, but I've also taken the 6/1 for yet another top 6.

    Good luck everyone!

  3. Geoff - I had no idea that Massa had finished top 6 in his LAST SIX outings, that being so his odds of 6/1 against his doing so again look very attractive - even more attractive is Betfair's price of "8" which nets down to 6.65/1 net in old money. Incidentally, that's TWENTY times the odds of 1/3 on his team mate achieving the same feat - just how crazy is that!
    The great thing about a blog such as this is that several searchers out of value are far better than one .... thanks for spotting this.
    Speaking of sharing info, are you guys aware that Ladbrokes have very recently set up a betting exchange on their own website, although bets there have to be separately funded from their main fixed odds operation - grrh. This will be good news if they are able to seriously compete with Betfair, although curiously they had previously acquired Betdaq some months ago but don't appear to have done much with it - perhaps they believe, probably quite correctly, that the better way of promoting this type of betting is under their own flagship name - do take a look anyway.

  4. Further to my post above, I asked for and obtained a price of 8.2 for a Massa top 6 finish by entering this figure in the lay column, rather than simply taking the backing price then on offer. I'm interested to learn whether or not you guys do this on a regular basis, believing as I do that obtaining the very best value when betting is everything and iseffectively the difference between making a profit or a loss over the longer term.

  5. A fun fact from a work colleague of my wife sitting in the bleachers at turn 1 of COTA -

    the apex of turn 1 is 131 feet higher than the start/finish line. That's some hill.

  6. Hey, everyone.

    Not sure if the post-race piece will be done this evening or tomorrow morning.

    Mr. Anonymous (Tim B?), I didn't buy the last game, but the F1 videogames are excellent for giving a better picture of undulation in the various tracks, especially compared to TV footage.

    I've put a little on the Massa top 6 bet. I was considering trying it through Ladbrokes, but when I checked they only had win, podium and points markets.

    Mr. M, memory-hole is a horrid term. I'm also mildly miffed you referred to the Obama bet (a paltry 50/1) and neglected to mention a magnificent 70/1 bet on Button that a handsome young chap once tipped.

    1. Yes, it was me.

      Tim B

    2. Was this the same handsome young chap who tipped a 31-40 Wales victory at 12/1?

      We should be told.

  7. Slightly harsh on Maldonado, methinks. As you say, he was impeded by Gutierrez, but also by Chilton. You cannot have two wasted flying laps in Q1 and expect to do well.

    However, his later outburst was horrible. Good riddance, hopefully out of the sport.

    Now I've got to decide whether to listen to the race, then stay up for the late-night highlights. Got a lot to do, so it might have to be one or the other...

  8. So the podium 1 2 3 was set after the first turn on the first lap.

    Is this worth watching?

    Tim B