Saturday, 20 September 2014

Singapore: pre-race

I missed the first half of qualifying as the BBC’s Judas Iscariot approach to broadcasting F1 doesn’t seem to cover having it on either Radio 5 or Sports Extra, and I had to go online.

Sutil and Maldonado joined the usual suspects in leaving in the first part of qualifying.

In Q2 Button, Vergne, Hulkenberg, Gutierrez, Perez and Grosjean went out. Grosjean sounded furious over the radio due to some engine problem or other which really angered him. Sounds like he’s at the end of his wick with Lotus’ shoddy reliability.

Force India continue to slide down the competitive order. Particularly tricky at a circuit like Singapore.

In Q3 Hamilton was fastest, ahead of Rosberg. Ricciardo and Vettel have the second row, with Alonso and Massa on the third (Massa had been fastest earlier in the session but failed to improve later). Raikkonen and Bottas are next, with Magnussen and Kvyat rounding out the top 10.

Commentary info suggested Rosberg set his fast lap in Q3 on a used set of supersoft tyres, very surprising as the tyres barely last a lap. Raikkonen had to stop on track due to a mechanical issue. I wonder if that info was wrong, given Rosberg was only seven-thousandths off.

A three stop race, or possibly more, seems likely. Strategy could play a role, as the tyres really don’t seem to last long. This may disadvantage Williams, which have tended to be so conservative as to damage their own prospects.

The race is forecast to be dry.

Early thoughts on bets:
Vettel podium
Red Bull top score
Alonso podium
Safety Car
Ricciardo to win (each way)
Lotus drivers not to be classified

Vettel was 2.62 with Ladbrokes for a podium (making up one place). However, he starts on the dirty side of the track, I’m not sure his head’s in quite the right place and Ricciardo’s been very strong all year.

Red Bull are only 2.75 to top score, which is bloody mean. A realistic prospect but the odds are tight-fisted. It’s almost as if Ladbrokes doesn’t want me to make money.

Alonso was 3.85 with Betfair for a podium. The Ferrari has looked racier... I’m not sure whether it can match the cars ahead on race pace. Something to consider, though.

In all (six or so) Singapore races to date the safety car has made an appearance. It’s not quite a dead cert but it’s not far off. Ladbrokes offers 1.2, which, to be honest, is genuinely tempting.

Ricciardo is 8 to win, about what I’d expect, with Ladbrokes, and 10.5 with Betfair. Hmm. I’ll add that to the Alonso and Safety Car bets for further consideration.

I do feel a bit unlucky both Lotus drivers finished in Monza, but in Singapore it’d be even unluckier. Maldonado is 2.1 not to be classified, and Grosjean 2.25. A hard to drive car, mid-grid starting position and potential reliability failure all make this eminently possible.

So, unexpectedly, I have more potential bets to consider than I’d imagined.
Alonso 3.85 for a podium
Safety Car 1.2
Ricciardo to win (8 each way, or 10.5 hedged)
Lotus drivers to fail to be classified (2.1 and 2.25)

I checked last year’s result and, counter-intuitively, only two drivers retired (admittedly, one of them was Grosjean). So, I’ve decided against repeating the Monza bet, tempting though it is.

I think the Safety Car bet is likely, but the low number of retirements last time indicate it’s by no means certain, and the forecast is for it to be dry. So, my aversion to short odds means I won’t go for that either.

Which leaves Alonso for a podium, or Ricciardo to win (either each way, which is top 2, or hedged).

I think Alonso’s a great driver, but I do not believe his car is good enough. Ricciardo’s been driving phenomenally well this year, he’s also had the luck, his car’s competitive and well-suited to Singapore.

So, the question is whether to back each way, or hedge it on Betfair. The agony of choice. I decided to go for Betfair, backed 10.5, hedged at 4. Often one of the Mercedes drivers has started poorly, and I think Ricciardo could get close enough for the hedge to be matched. Bad tyre wear or an error could see him take the win.

So, just a single tip:
Ricciardo to win, 10.5 (hedged 4)

Tomorrow will probably see less passing on-track but more strategy, as the tyres are crumblier than old cheese.

Morris Dancer

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