Quite a bit of news since the last race. Hamilton signed a new three year contract for more than double the pay of Rosberg, and F1 will return to refuelling in 2017 and allow free tyre choice for teams from all four compounds in 2016 (pending further approvals).
Tyres are supersoft and soft, I think.
Hamilton was fastest in P1, a tenth ahead of Verstappen. Ricciardo and Vettel followed closely, then came Sainz, Maldonado, Kvyat, Raikkonen, Rosberg and Massa.
The second practice session was wet, but I’ll include the top 10 for sake of completeness. Hamilton was fastest again, a day and a half ahead of Rosberg, who was three-tenths up on Vettel. Then we had Raikkonen, Kvyat, Sainz, Verstappen, Alonso, Hulkenberg and Grosjean.
Alonso was 11th in P1 and 8th in P2, so keeping a beady eye on him for making Q3 may be an idea. The Toro Rossos look rather tasty. Top 6 bets for Sainz/Verstappen are something I’ll keep in mind.
In P3 expectations were confounded when Vettel was fastest, with a very tasty lap. Rosberg was a couple of tenths back, and Hamilton only 3rd. Ricciardo was next, then Sainz, Raikkonen, Kvyat, Button, Verstappen and Grosjean. Not sure if Alonso did a qualifying simulation or not.
The times in P3 are a bit open to interpretation, as Rosberg had a great middle sector but was ropey for the rest of the lap, and Hamilton was stuck in traffic which slowed his qualifying run. Vettel’s lap was great, and does represent his top pace.
Verstappen/Sainz Q3/Top 6 in the race
Vettel pole [hedged]
Traffic will be critical, weather is expected to stay dry. So, the congestion could create problems and introduces an element of pot luck. Verstappen was unable to get in a final qualifying lap due to some issues with the car [I missed most of P3 on the radio, but it sounded fairly minor], hence being ‘only’ 9th.
Pole seems to be a three horse race. Rosberg’s had it here the last two times, and had the pole in the last race. Hamilton’s looked good all weekend, and Vettel had a very good qualifying simulation.
Alonso was evens to reach Q3. Whilst he stands a decent chance, it’s far from certain, so no bet there.
Verstappen and Sainz were just 1.5 each to reach Q3. Again, too short to tempt. For the race (top 6) they were 2.3 and 2.5 respectively, which is a little tastier, but still not great.
Vettel’s 7.2 for pole with Betfair, and just 6 with Ladbrokes (although each way for top 2 at 1/3 the odds is available). This is the only bet to which I gave more than a moment’s thought. After some prevarication, I backed him (price then 7.8, I’d take 7 or higher) and hedged at 3.6.
So, one tip:
Vettel, pole, 7.8 (Betfair), hedged at 3.6