Saturday, 9 May 2015

Spain: pre-race

Glad I didn’t bet on qualifying, as it went somewhat differently to my expectations.

In Q1 we had the familiar sight of both Marussias exiting, and Force India will be disappointed to lose both drivers at this stage. Marcus Ericsson qualified 16th.

Q2 was rather more competitive, as might be expected. Nasr was the slowest [bit of a bad circuit for Sauber, it seems], with the two McLarens ahead of him, and the two Lotuses ahead of Alonso (very two-by-two). However, there was a pretty large margin between Grosjean and 10th place.

In the final part of qualifying, Rosberg beat Hamilton to pole by a quarter of a second. Impressive stuff from the German. Vettel was 3rd and Bottas 4th, followed by Sainz and Verstappen, with Raikkonen only 7th. Kvyat, Massa and Ricciardo round out the grid.

Poor from Raikkonen and Massa, it seems (both well down on their team mates). Good for Rosberg, and if the Ferrari’s got the race pace this could see the title get a bit more competitive. Or Hamilton might win again. Pole-sitters have an 80% record in recent years of getting the win.

There’s a very long (longest on the calendar) run from the grid to the first corner. This may hamper the Red Bulls, with Ricciardo often starting badly. It’ll also be interesting to see if the Lotuses or McLarens can get into the points. Renault reliability is another factor to consider.

Early bets I thought of included:
Alonso points
Vettel win each way
Toro Rosso double score
Lotus double score
Williams double score
Massa top 6
Bottas podium

Alonso’s a great driver, and the McLaren’s improved again. There’s also the potential for Renault-engined cars ahead to expire, or be rubbish off the line and gift him a few places. He’s 2.3 for points. I’m uncertain about that.

Vettel is 11 to win, 1/3 the odds each way (Ladbrokes). Ferrari have been pretty smart strategically, and strategy will matter a lot in Spain.

Toro Rosso are 2.1 to double score. I think the cars have the pace and the drivers are good, but I have my doubts about the engines.

Lotus are 4 to double score. I rather like that. They should’ve double scored in Bahrain but Maldonado had a slow stop and then got hit by Button.

Williams are 1.4 to double score. Too low [likely to happen, but still].

Massa is evens for a top 6 finish. That looks reasonably good, but I think the top four on the grid will get into the top 6, and Raikkonen probably likewise. The Toro Rossos could stand in his way.

Bottas is 3.25 for a podium. I’d probably want a little longer, given his car would appear to be a margin behind the Ferraris and Mercedes.

Almost all the above are marginal. Somewhat tempting, but definitely not clear cut.

On balance, I think Lotus to have both cars in the points at 4 is the best bet. They should’ve done it in Bahrain (it was misfortune they did not). Cars ahead may well be slower, have bad starts or have their engines blow up.

So, just the on tip: Lotus to double score at 4, with Ladbrokes.

Morris Dancer

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