For such a short odds bet, the Vettel tip was much closer than I anticipated, or wanted. In the end it came off, which is a nice start to both the weekend and qualifying betting in 2015.
The first session of qualifying was pretty close (backmarker Manor Marussias aside). In the end, Hulkenberg was the fastest chap to be booted out, ahead of the two McLarens (although the gap from McLaren to the rest of the field appears to have declined).
The second session was even more competitive. Maldonado failed to reach Q3, as did Kvyat [perhaps a shade disappointing], both Toro Rossos and Perez, who starts directly ahead of his team mate.
Q3 was a little odd. Mercedes were ahead by miles, as expected, although Rosberg did manage to close the gap to a miniscule 0.04s. Williams suddenly came to life and looked in danger of locking out the second row and shunting the Ferraris back to row three. In the end, Vettel’s final lap put him 3rd on the grid, with Massa (who looked pretty good in qualifying) ahead of Bottas and then Raikkonen. Three-tenths down the road is Ricciardo (the Red Bull appears to gradually be improving), then Grosjean. Huge kudos to Sauber for getting both their cars into Q3, just over a tenth behind Grosjean and with Nasir less than a tenth ahead of Ericsson.
It also emerged during qualifying chatter that Ferrari lose only about a tenth of a second on used soft tyres, whereas Mercedes lose three-tenths. Given the soft tyre is perhaps as much as two and a half seconds a lap faster than the medium, and two stops are expected, this may prove significant. On single lap pace the Mercedes are in a league of their own, but the Ferraris may be more competitive on race pace (especially if they can use the faster tyres for longer and with less wear). Ferrari also appear to have one more set of fresh soft tyres for the race, which may prove handy. I think there are 56 laps or so, which means perhaps 15 laps [guesswork, it’s approximate at best] on new soft tyres. Against that is that the Mercedes appears to be faster generally, so I’m doubtful that the Ferrari can beat them on pace.
I expect Raikkonen to advance up the order. Unfortunately, there are markets for top 6 and podium, and I suspect he’ll rise from 6th to 4th, so that’s not something easy to put money on.
Grosjean’s a bit tricky. I expected him to do better last time, but he did suffer a race-long power shortage. I do rate him as a driver, I’m uncertain about his car’s reliability/pace, though. Sauber seem fairly quick, but the battle for the back end of the points will be fierce. It seems the top end may be dominated by car performance, with 7th onwards determined more by driver ability.
Race start is 2pm local time (7am UK). Rain had seemed possible, but the forecast now indicates a very low chance of rain.
In the last 10 races only 3 have seen a safety car make an appearance [sometimes due to rain].
Potential bets are a bit tricky. It looks a fairly safe bet on a Mercedes 1-2 (though it’s not certain), and Vettel seems highly likely for the final place on the podium. So, I looked, initially, elsewhere to see what seemed tempting:
No Safety Car
No Safety Car
Maldonado/Grosjean for points, or a Lotus double score
No Safety Car was available at 1.8. For something that’s occurred 7/10 (I think) times in the most recent past, that seems good value, especially given the race is expected to be dry (and rain played a role in at least one race where the safety car made an appearance).
Grosjean was 1.5 for points, and Maldonado 2.2, with 3.25 for both to score points. That’s somewhat tempting. My problem is that Maldonado is not necessarily the driver likeliest to finish a race.
There was 3.5 for Alonso to score. I consider this very much an outside shot, and those odds do not tempt me [it could well happen, but there’s a case for Toro Rosso, Red Bull, Force India, Sauber to get points too].
Other bets that sprung out at me were:
Hamilton and Rosberg to be top 2 at 1.5 [any order]
Decided against that. Whilst likely, Ferrari might be in a position to challenge, and there’s always the possibility of accident, pit stop cock up or suchlike.
So, oddly, another single low odds bet:
No Safety Car 1.8 [Ladbrokes]
Race start is 7am tomorrow, I think. It’ll be interesting to see how it goes, from the front of the grid down to McLaren.