Hamilton must be cursed. His Mercedes burst into flames before he could set a time. Good for the bet, but yet more abysmal luck for the Briton.
In Q1, before Hamilton's fire, Maldonado also retired without setting a time. The drama did not stop there, as Raikkonen, who suffered no problems I was aware of, was knocked out of qualifying at this stage. Bianchi put in a great lap to knock the 2007 world champion out. The Caterhams and Bianchi's team mate Chilton also left at this stage.
Bianchi was on the soft and Raikkonen on the medium tyre, which turned out to be a crucial error of judgement by the Finn/Ferrari. Nevertheless, a great lap by Bianchi.
Immediately afterwards Hamilton suggested the engine and gearbox would need replacing. He also said it was “beyond bad luck”. I would guess that's implying reliability is simply not good enough, rather than implying there are dark arts at work.
Initial word was that it was a fuel leak.
In Q2 Perez suffered a hydraulic problem which prevented him setting many fast laps and ended his qualifying. Kvyat, Sutil, Perez, Gutierrez, Grosjean and Bianchi left qualifying in Q2. A better performance by Sutil, perhaps flattered by Raikkonen and Hamilton's early exit, but even so, a bit of an improvement by Sauber.
In Q3 rain started to come down, so they all went out early in case conditions got worse. Rosberg locked up and lost his fast lap, the rain was very heavy, and a red flag came out before anyone could set a timed lap. The red flag was due to Magnussen going off straight into the tyre wall.
When the red flag disappeared and the session restarted everyone was on slick tyres.
Rosberg ended up with pole. Vettel grabbed second, and Bottas continued his great run of form for third on the grid. Ricciardo was next, Alonso and Massa share the third row, Button, Vergne, Hulkenberg and Magnussen (assuming he doesn't get any penalties) round out the top 10.
Penalties are possible for Hamilton and Magnussen, and perhaps Perez as well (due to the hydraulic issue).
I watched the BBC qualifying highlights. Magnussen is definitely starting from the pit lane and Hamilton probably will. Very bad news for the Briton, as he'll miss the chance to mug half a dozen slower cars from a standing start.
Also learnt that the crash Massa had last time meant a new chassis and an older floor that'll cost him a few tenths of a second per lap.
There also appears to be a higher than 50% chance of rain during the race.
My initial betting thoughts were:
Red Bull top score
Williams top score
Hulkenberg top 6
Lay Hamilton podium
Red Bull are 3.5 to top score. Hmm. Not sure about that. I do think both cars will finish in the top 4, all else being equal, but it's hard to tell how Hamilton will do, how rain will affect things and if Bottas can hold onto third or even gain a place or two off the start. Worth considering, though.
Williams are 12. Given the new habit Massa has of crashing and the fact his car's a few tenths off the pace, this doesn't tempt me.
Vettel's odds of 1.4 for a podium are a bit mean, frankly.
Hulkenberg is 3 for a top 6 finish. Force India's a little off the pace lately, but I rate his driving highly and if it rains he's one of several (Vettel, Bottas and Button being the others who spring to mind) who could benefit.
I was a bit surprised Hamilton's out to 3.7 or so for a podium. Not something I'd back, but also not layable.
Anyway, decided to back Red Bull at 3.5 with Ladbrokes. I think rain would help rather than hinder them, and if Hamilton really does struggle then they stand a decent chance. Furthermore, I can see Massa going backwards (or crashing...) and Ricciardo undercutting Bottas.
Really hot/humid here, so hopefully this isn't heat-addled nonsense.