Monday, 29 September 2014

Japan: early thoughts

As well as vague musings about Japan and the title race, I’m going to try and analyse why my recent form has been patchier than a pirate convention.

But first: Japan.

The Suzuka circuit is a proper racing circuit, no namby-pamby street nonsense. Fast, has a flowing quality similar to Silverstone and the early part of the Texas circuit, and with relatively little room for error (hopefully they won’t copy the wimps of Monza and add massive run off to areas that are traditionally guarded by gravel traps).

Which makes it a bit surprising Hamilton has never won there. He’s got a very good chance this weekend. The gremlins struck Rosberg at the perfect time, and it’s hard to see anyone other than Mercedes taking the win (reliability notwithstanding).

The higher speed nature should also be handy for Williams, and I’d expect them to have the beating of Ferrari and probably Red Bull as well.

Rain is entirely possible in Suzuka, so we should keep an eye on the skies.

Hulkenberg or Perez to score or maybe creep into the top 10 may be value, but we’ll have to see how things develop.

Anyway, to betting. In the second half (Germany onwards, inclusive) I’ve had six bets and only two have come off. That’s a small green or small red result, depending on whether you hedged or not (not hedging is green). Obviously, that’s disappointing. Not catastrophic, but it’s been a bit poor.

Luck plays a significant part in F1 bets, because of the nature of the sport, so I think it’s useful to know whether a bet fails or succeeds due to luck, or misjudgement.

In Germany I tipped Magnussen to be top 6. In the event, he was 9th, and at least 30 seconds or so off of 6th. I can’t recall the details, but that just looks like a misjudgement, overestimating the car.

Hungary was delightful. I backed Rosberg for pole at 3.6 but that came off because Hamilton’s car had one of its many qualifying problems. I can’t say if Rosberg would’ve won had Hamilton been able to compete for pole, but at the very least there’s a strong element of luck there. The race bet also came off (Red Bull to top score). I remember the race well and can categorically state that was flukey as hell on my part. Rosberg was perfectly disadvantaged by the safety car, Ricciardo drove very well and Red Bull gave him the ideal strategy, aided substantially by the safety cars. On pace, Mercedes would’ve gotten most points. So, we’ll call that a fluke and a half.

In Belgium I backed Alonso for a podium. In the end, he was a measley 7th. However, he was significantly hampered by a 5s penalty (small time but had a big impact). I’m not sure it would’ve come off anyway, but the fact it never had a chance was due to an odd misfortune.

In Italy I backed (as a single bet, half stake each) the Lotuses not to be classified. The last time they both finished a race had been some months ago, I think. They decided Monza was the time to rediscover reliability. I’d consider this bad luck, given Lotus’ recent shoddy form.

And, finally, I Backed Ricciardo to win at 10.5 in Singapore. After Rosberg’s electronic issue effectively promoted Ricciardo to 2nd on the grid I was hopeful, but he went and had a bad start. I suspect the hedge would’ve been matched had he started better, but then, if all the races had gone well this betting lark would be a doddle. Plus, the Rosberg problem was lucky and if he’d started the two Silver Arrows would’ve been over the hills and far away. So, misjudgement (good and bad luck balancing out).

That’s a majority of misjudgements. Yes, some bad luck, but also a hefty slice of good in Hungary. It seems I’m mostly overestimating mid-pack cars, and the ability of Alonso to drag his car to a good result. Red Bull seem the only ones likely to (at high downforce circuits) challenge Mercedes for most points.

A better strategy might to be look at top 6, top 10 and to reach Q3 for the mid-grid runners. Force India, McLaren and maybe Toro Rosso. Rosberg for pole has typically worked pretty well, too.

As always, comments and predictions about Japan are welcome, and if you have any cunning insights about my recent rubbish form or general tips, those are welcome too.

Morris Dancer

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