Saturday, 22 August 2015

Belgium: pre-race

Qualifying went rather differently to my expectations. Well, I got the top two right (not exactly difficult this season), but Ferrari were a mile and a half away from competitiveness.

The first session went to script, with the Marussias exiting the stage followed (due to grid penalties) by the McLarens. Nasr may well be disappointed to have failed to escape this stage of qualifying.

In Q2, Raikkonen’s car broke down with engine trouble, so he starts 14th (assuming there’s no grid penalty, which there might well be if parts need replacing). Verstappen, who also has a penalty, didn’t set a time and ‘qualified’ 15th. It was very tight ahead of them, with Hulkenberg and Kvyat just missing out, and Ericsson the slowest man to set a time in Q2.

Q3 saw the status quo maintained as Hamilton got pole by a day and a half and Rosberg had to settle for 2nd. However, Bottas did well to get 3rd, and Grosjean and Perez were surprisingly quick in 4th and 5th (the top 5 all have Mercedes engines). The Frenchman won’t start there, though, as he has a grid penalty of five places. Ricciardo qualified 6th, just ahead of Maldonado (one does wonder of the potential for an immediate and massive crash). Vettel was strangely slow in 9th. Either the Ferrari has suddenly become rubbish or he had a serious problem, neither of which is good news. Sainz was 10th.

There is a chance of rain, but the forecast I looked at suggested it would be dry. It’s hard to tell at Spa, so the best thing is to try and have a bet with a credible chance of coming off in any condition.

Ferrari starting well down the grid should mean they have a bit of a charge, but Vettel’s rubbish time may reveal they’re not quite as quick here as they ought to be.

Initial bets that sprang to mind were:
Lay Hamilton lead lap 1
Massa top 6
Force India double score
Maldonado to not be classified (maybe Grosjean too)
Safety Car

1.49 was available to lay Hamilton to lead lap 1, but the back odds were 1.36, so I think it’s worth waiting to see if the gap closes.

Because of Grosjean’s penalty Massa starts in the top 6, so that bet is on him holding station. As such, 1.45 is measly.

Force India are evens to double score. Hmm. May be worth a look as I think they’re easily there on pace (Hulkenberg missed out on Q3 by a tiny margin after he cocked up his lap).

Maldonado is only 2.5 not to be classified. Hmm. Grosjean’s 3.5. I copied (and updated) the Lotus failure to be classified list I made earlier, and here it is:
Australia – 2
Austria – 1, Grosjean
Canada – 0
Monaco – 1, Maldonado
Spain – 1, Maldonado
Bahrain – 0
China – 1, Maldonado
Malaysia – 1, Maldonado
Britain – 2
Hungary – 0
On that basis, the average is almost 1 per race, usually Maldonado. So 2.5 might just be value.

Just 1.65 on the Safety Car is not tempting.

Of the initial batch, laying Hamilton to lead lap 1 at 1.49, backing Force India to double score at evens, and backing Maldonado not to be classified at 2.5 are all slightly tempting but none are eye-poppingly delightful.

A quick perusal found Lotus to double score at 3.5. Slightly tempting also, but I don’t trust Maldonado.

Decided against the Force India bet. Both drivers are good, but there is the potential for both weather and accident to foil one or both of them. Which leaves the question of whether I have more confidence in Hamilton to leave the handbrake on, or Maldonado to bugger things up...

So, just the one bet:
Maldonado, not to be classified, 2.5 (Ladbrokes)

Morris Dancer

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