Thursday, 1 December 2016

A look back at 2016 and ahead to 2017

It was a bloody odd year.

From a betting perspective, it was my worst ever (been doing this since the latter half of 2009) if you count only the weekend tips included in these articles. If you count the fortuitous Verstappen tip (to win in Spain at 250/1) it’s the best ever. I got under a third of tips correct, but finished ahead by quite a long way.

Most of the weekend tips being wrong were due to misjudgement. I did have some bad luck too. The weather forecast I saw for Interlagos was 100% wrong and buggered both my bets there. Had they come off, the result would’ve meant a slightly red season rather than one redder than a baboon’s backside.

That said, at the six race weekends I offered three tips, one was properly green, one was essentially flat, and the other four were red. It’s not great when there’s an inversely proportional relationship between number of bets and sound judgement, and that’s almost entirely my fault.

I may try and make an effort to offer a few more Betfair/hedged tips. Unfortunately a few years ago I had a great run with Ladbrokes and terrible luck with Betfair, so the former account is in rude health and the latter is a bit anaemic (limiting my stakes quite a bit).

Four spread-betting suggestions were offered mid-season, as a first step towards potentially entering those choppy waters. My suggestions were (with confidence ratings):
Buy Bottas, low-medium, 93/99 (the price when I saw it/the price when I wrote the piece)
Sell Magnussen, medium, 11
Buy Verstappen, medium, 206
Sell Alonso, high, 53

Bottas I got entirely wrong. That was an 8 or 14 point loss. The others were all tight. Magnussen was 4 points to the good, Verstappen 2 points red and Alonso 1 point red. The main misjudgement was failing to recognise/recall Williams are often a bit pants at developing their car through the season. On the plus side, this was my first serious effort and most of the suggestions were very tight, with just one being rather wrong (and not by a calamitous amount).

I imagine such things will only be available after testing, but, for future reference, here’s the link:

In terms of racing, Mercedes were slightly reeled in by Red Bull over the course of the season. Red Bull developed well, whereas Ferrari were 2nd fastest (but unreliable) initially, and then fell to a distinct 3rd later on. Force India maintained their excellent in-season development, leapfrogging Williams to get 4th.

Development potential will be important when considering how things might go over the course of the next season.

Looking ahead to next year, I had planned on offering spread betting tips and dipping my toe into the waters. Not sure if I will do that, but, if not, I shall offer some suggestions as I did this year.

There are substantial technical changes to the regulations, meaning both aerodynamic changes and removing the restrictions on engine development. I think this stands to benefit Red Bull and McLaren disproportionately. The former has, I think, Adrian Newey returning from messing about on the river, and the latter has Prodromou[sp] (formerly Newey’s aerodynamic lieutenant) and the possibility of Honda delivering a great leap forward.

Renault should also improve, but I don’t believe they have the staff necessary, yet, to bounce all the way into podium-land. Hulkenberg’s reportedly very good at technical feedback, so that will aid their development, particularly for 2018.

I think Ferrari will go backwards. They’ve lost Allison, rumour has it Arrivabene may be tossed overboard, and whilst the engine is good, the aerodynamic performance this has year has been behind a few other teams.

Mercedes, obviously, have most to lose. When you have a dominant position any change represents a risk of losing that advantage. I don’t think they’ll fall off a cliff, but it is possible they’ll either be very closely matched to a rival team (or two) or clearly inferior. An intriguing possibility follows the well-sourced rumour Hamilton actually quit after Spain this year only to be persuaded to stay. It is possible he’ll go walkies sooner rather than later. (Maybe a 10% chance).

Williams have been a bit rubbish at aero recently. I think they recognise this, but would still expect them to be a bit too slippery.

Toro Rosso have been pretty impressive when it comes to aerodynamics. I don’t think they’ll challenge at the sharp end, but they could have a good season.

Haas are difficult to read. They had a stonking start to their d├ębut season, then fell off a performance cliff.

Manor and Sauber may struggle a bit due to lack of cash and starting from a low base.

At the moment, the most tempting bets for me revolve around Red Bull and McLaren (and their drivers). Very early to bet, however.

There are some Hamilton and Verstappen specials up on Ladbrokes, as well as early markets available for the two 2017 titles. Perhaps most intriguing is the 17 for Hamilton to not drive for Mercedes next year. He apparently quit after the Spanish Grand Prix, only to be persuaded to stay, and is very unhappy his mechanics were switched to Rosberg this year. I think Hamilton walking is likelier than the team axing him, and whilst it’s still odds against, 17 might be a little long.

The other bets for both chaps relate to long term things (mostly beating Schumacher’s title and race win tallies). None of those appeal, possibly excepting Verstappen to take next year’s title at 5.

Morris Dancer