Sunday, 11 October 2015

Russia: post-race analysis

A quite entertaining race, and a green bet. Better without hedging, of course. As it happens, the hedged and non-hedged season to-date profit levels are now exactly matched. Hard to assess whether it was a wise or lucky bet due to the high number of racing incidents.

The race was interesting from the start, with Raikkonen getting past Bottas and Rosberg just managing to fend off Hamilton. Hulkenberg spun early on, giving Verstappen a puncture and ending Ericsson’s race. After the safety car, Rosberg did well to keep Hamilton behind him, but the German developed a terminal throttle problem and was forced to retire.

That ended excitement at the sharp end, but fortunately there was entertainment to be had further down the field. Grosjean was following Button (the Lotus having pitted) when he got out onto the marbles, lost control, and introduced his car to the barriers. A second safety car emerged, during which many cars visited the pits.

Perez was an early pitter, as was Ricciardo. The top few cars (Hamilton, Bottas and the Ferraris) stayed out, as did Nasr. At this stage I grew concerned about the Nasr bet, given the competitive times put in by the likes of Perez et al.

When Vettel, Bottas and Raikkonen pitted, the Williams driver was stuck in traffic which enabled Vettel to get the jump on him. However, Raikkonen ended up right behind Bottas, who was himself closely following Ricciardo (then in 4th place). Perez was in an impressive 3rd, but struggling to keep his tyres alive.

Bottas got past Ricciardo and set about chasing Perez. Raikkonen also soon passed the Aussie and closed back up on his compatriot. Perez’s tyres ran out and Bottas overtook him, but moments later so did Raikkonen. On the final lap the Ferrari made a reckless move, hit the Williams (putting Bottas out of the race), damaging his own car, letting Perez back through to take the final podium spot. Raikkonen eventually finished 5th, behind Massa. Daft move on Raikkonen’s part. Bottas’ icy calm “What the **** was that?” summed it up accurately.

Late on, Sainz lost out on certain points after his brakes failed, and Ricciardo had some sort of issue (possibly suspension) and had to pull up with only a few laps left to go.

The late retirements allowed both McLarens to finish in the points, Button ahead, which is a nice 1 point present for Alonso’s 250th race.

Kvyat ended up 6th, a good result given the Red Bull’s characteristics, with Nasr a strong 7th for Sauber. Unlikely to alter Sauber’s title position, but it helps them consolidate 8th.

Maldonado was 8th, and had an uneventful race, which is a little unusual. For all the (often deserved) mockery, he drove well, scored some points, and his team mate was the chap to crash. Verstappen was only 11th, but after suffering a lap 1 puncture and doing almost the whole first lap at a snail’s pace, trundling to the pits, that’s quite impressive.

Hamilton got 1st, of course, and Vettel was a slightly lonely 2nd, with Perez a day behind and Hamilton a day ahead.

So, an oddly high number of retirements due to some reliability problems and many crashes.

On the betting front, it was green. It’s quite difficult to assess if it was lucky or not, because the safety car closed things up twice (harming Nasr’s prospects) but many cars ahead of him failed to finish (helping his prospects). Without hedging, it’s the greenest result in the second half. Which is nice.

The next race is the US, in a fortnight.

Morris Dancer

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