Sunday, 25 June 2017

Azerbaijan: post-race analysis 2017

By weird coincidence, I’d decided to take notes during the race (I’ve only done this once before, for an early start when I thought I’d be too sleepy to remember anything not written down). This proved handy, given how chaotic the race was. Shockingly, both McLarens finished, and Alonso got the team’s first points. Good for them, but my bet was red.

On the first lap, Hamilton retained the lead, Bottas and Raikkonen made contact. This shoved the Ferrari a few places back and give Bottas a puncture on the second longest lap of the year (he was a lap down by the time he pitted for fresh rubber). Vettel was in 2nd, Perez in 3rd. Sainz also managed to spin on the first lap (he blamed his team mate, returning from an escape road, but it was simply a matter of the Spaniard cocking up).

On lap 6, Ricciardo pitted to clear debris and have his front wing checked, Vandoorne also pitted and shifted from the soft (he was one of very few to start on the slower tyre) for supersoft.

Palmer retired on lap 9 when reliability failed him, and a lap later the same happened to Kvyat (the Briton managed to return to the pits, the Russian didn’t).

Verstappen had done great work passing Perez for 3rd, but it was all for nought when the Dutchman’s engine stopped working, much to his understandable consternation.

A safety car emerged on lap 12, ostensibly to recover Kvyat’s car, though Coulthard [commentating] was of the opinion it was for show, to bunch up the field and make things exciting. Practically everybody pitted, including Bottas and Ricciardo for a second time each, with Stroll and Hulkenberg coming in a lap later (perhaps to avoid the rush).

The safety car period seemed slow and endless, and it finally came in on lap 16. Drivers had struggled to get heat into their tyres, and on lap 17 the safety car emerged again (due to debris from Raikkonen’s car being on track), taking the field through the pit lane. Hamilton, rightly, questioned the use of a full safety car, which is tedious and slow, over a virtual one.

On lap 19 it was announced the safety car would come in. Hamilton was slower than expected in a corner and Vettel ran into the back of him (although the Briton had maintained a slow pace he had not slammed the brakes on). This made the German angry, he pulled up alongside, gesticulated, and (at very slow speed) knocked tyres with Hamilton.

On lap 20, the Force Indias, who were running 3rd and 4th, decided to collide in an idiotic manoeuvre. This let Massa pass for 3rd, Stroll in 4th and Raikkonen got a puncture from debris. [I do hope you’re keeping up. We aren’t halfway through yet].

The same lap, the safety car emerged, again. Ocon pitted, and Perez retired. Raikkonen also retired and Ricciardo was up to 5th.

Around lap 22/23 the red flag came out due to ‘debris everywhere’ as Alonso put it. The red flag order was: Ham Vet Mas Str Ric Hulk Mag Alo Sai Gro Eri Vand Bott Ocon Wehr.

Under the red flag, they tried to mend Perez’s and Raikkonen’s cars though each man was technically two laps down (this would be reduced to one by the safety car restart, as they’d be allowed to scamper off ahead, as backmarkers).

Racing resumed on lap 25. Ricciardo passed both Williams to rise from 5th to 3rd, Massa made the opposite journey, and Stroll held 4th. It soon became apparent Massa had a serious car problem, he slid down the order then retired. On the same lap, Hulkenberg hit the wall and retired.

Then a stroke of misfortune bedevilled Hamilton. His headrest came loose. He tried shoving it back into place but as a safety issue the team was forced to pit him on lap 31. But, on the very same lap, Vettel was told he would have to take a 10s stop and go penalty for dangerous driving (when he hit Hamilton). The time to fix Hamilton’s headrest was just under 10s, and he had a gap, previous to pitting, of just a few seconds. However, the Briton emerged from the pits into traffic whilst Vettel was running in free air.

Lap 33, Vettel pitted, coming out right ahead of Hamilton and behind Bottas, who had risen to 6th. At this stage, Ricciardo, Stroll and Magnussen were at the front.

Raikkonen and Perez were both handed drive-through penalties for their cars being mended in an inappropriate part of the pit lane.

Magnussen slid down the order, being passed by Ocon, Bottas, then Vettel and Hamilton. Bottas then passed Ocon and went off in pursuit of 2nd (Stroll). On lap 47 there was an interesting radio transmission from Hamilton. He asked if Bottas, were he not fighting anyone, to slow down to back Vettel up a bit. The team replied they wanted Bottas to catch Stroll and to deny Vettel DRS.

On lap 48 Raikkonen retired (again), Perez having done likewise.

On the final lap (51), Bottas passed Stroll at the line, nabbing 2nd by two-tenths. Ricciardo got the win, and Vettel finished 4th, two-tenths ahead of Hamilton.

Ocon ended up 6th. But for their needless crash, Force India would’ve been 1 and 2. A damned shame that a foolish collision, that was wholly unnecessary, ruined what should’ve been a famous victory.

Magnussen was 7th, a good result for Haas (Grosjean was 13th, last of those still running at the flag, but had some sort of brake problems).

Sainz was next, and then Alonso, claiming McLaren’s first couple of points of the year. Mildly annoyed he made my bet red by actually finishing a race for only the second time this year, but good to see him score. Wehrlein got the final point, with Ericsson and Vandoorne finishing outside the points.

So, a hectic race indeed. Vettel finished ahead of Hamilton but only just, extending his title lead by a couple of points (with an old engine to boot). On the other hand, Mercedes extended their title lead over Ferrari by many points.

The Baku circuit is not stellar, but it’s also not wholly responsible for the farce of the multiple safety car starts. The problems are that Pirelli brought compounds that were too hard, and were forbidden from changing them because the deadline had passed. This was coupled with the fact the safety car couldn’t drive fast enough for the drivers to get sufficient heat into the tyres.

There’s also much discussion about Vettel and whether the 10s stop and go penalty was too lenient. The only comparable incident I can recall was during Belgian practice a few years ago when Maldonado deliberately side-swiped Hamilton (with far more contact/damage than the tyre-banging Vettel did). Maldonado received, so far as I recall, no penalty at all.

Vettel was clearly in the wrong. Adding another penalty now, given one has already been handed out, would be a huge call. I’m not sure it’ll happen.

Vettel 153
Hamilton 139

A 14 point gap is by no means insurmountable. It would be level if Hamilton wins the next two races and Vettel is second in both. But this is clearly an opportunity missed for Mercedes, given Vettel’s old engine and the self-inflicted penalty. Said it before, but F1 is prone to more twists of fate than other sports, and Hamilton’s headrest being pulled loose by a gremlin highlights that perfectly.

Mercedes 250
Ferrari 226

The gap has increased to Mercedes’ advantage, but should’ve done by a lot more. With slightly weaker reliability for Ferrari, I do think the Silver Arrows stand a good chance of winning this.

An aside, Perez was 201 to win this race. And had he and Ocon not come together, he would’ve probably won, or at least come second.

A weekend of ill-judgement from me, saved by the lucky red flag in qualifying from being totally awful. The race was hectic, though partly that was due to a flaw in the way F1 works, regarding tyre temperatures, and moments were farcical.

The next race is Austria, in a fortnight. One imagines it will be rather more sedate.

Morris Dancer

Azerbaijan: pre-race 2017

Qualifying was quite interesting. On the one hand, I’m mildly miffed Hamilton remembered how driving works (if he’d not, the next two fastest were Bottas and Raikkonen). On the other, I clearly misjudged his pace and flukily the two tips, one winning, one losing (unless you didn’t hedge, then a double loss) ended up being down just 50p assuming you backed each with £10.

Palmer’s fire meant he wasn’t in qualifying at all, and Vettel’s reliability problems means that he’s got an old engine in his Ferrari, which will cost him some pace and perhaps not be as solid as a newer engine would be.

In news that is not staggering, both McLarens failed to progress from the first part of qualifying. Ericsson also dropped out early doors, as did Grosjean.

Q2 wasn’t that competitive, with a fairly large gap between fastest drop-out Kvyat and safety. The Russian was a few tenths ahead of his team mate Sainz, with Magnussen, Hulkenberg and Wehrlein also leaving at this stage.

Q3 was quite interesting. After the early fast laps, Bottas led Hamilton. Then Ricciardo smacked into a barrier and brought out a red flag. With only one fast lap possible in the remaining time it was looking good for the Finn, as tyre-warming has taken a little while all weekend. However, his hopes were dashed when Hamilton put in a very impressive lap to take pole by almost half a second ahead of Bottas.

The Ferraris had looked in danger of being surpassed by Red Bull, or possible even Force India, so I think they’ll be relieved to have the second row to themselves. Raikkonen beat Vettel for only the second time this year, but given the engine difference perhaps that doesn’t tell us much.

After looking possibly third fastest, Verstappen might be disappointed to line up fifth. Perez, however, will be delighted to have bested Ocon, who looked rather good in qualifying. The Pink Panthers line up sixth and seventh.

Stroll beat Massa for eighth and ninth, a result which will help the Canadian’s confidence a little bit more. Ricciardo, who had a close encounter with a wall, as mentioned above, will start tenth, assuming he doesn’t incur penalties.

A little bit of chat from the commentators suggested that the chap who starts second actually has a better line into the first corner, although that side of the track is dirty. But, if Bottas got the jump on Hamilton, that might be worth considering.

So, early betting thoughts:
Bottas, lead lap 1
Bottas, win each way
Ocon top 6
Williams double score

Bottas is 4.2 to lead lap 1 on Betfair. Just too short to tempt.

Bottas is 5 on Ladbrokes to win (third the odds to be top two). That’s somewhat appealing given he’s been fast all weekend and his car appears both quick and reliable, but if he’s second the greenness is marginal and there’s always a risk the Ferrari is rather better in the race.

Ocon is just 1.61 to get a top 6 finish. Whilst the bet’s eminently plausible, that does rely on someone ahead of him either cocking up or failing to finish. The odds are too tight to tempt.

Williams are a rather mean evens to double score. Again, entirely plausible and perhaps likely, but not enough to tempt.

As is traditional, I had a look at the markets to see if anything leapt out at me.
Raikkonen, fastest lap 9 (to be hedged)

And, er, that was it. I’m not wild about anything. Which is awkward. So, I had a second look.

Toro Rosso, double score, 4.33

The Toro Rossos start 11th and 12th, and seem to have a sizeable pace advantage on those behind. Sainz has scored on 5 occasions (2 DNFs), and Kvyat has scored on 2 occasions (3 DNFs).

Unusually for me, I decided to wait overnight, see if match/group markets went up on Ladbrokes or inspiration struck me, and see how things looked in the morning.

Vandoorne and Alonso are 3-3 for results so far (largely because Alonso’s car almost always fails). Vandoorne is 3.5 to beat Alonso. Now, on pace, those odds seem right. But given horrendous reliability and the Spaniard suffering more than the Belgian for whatever reason, that’s worth looking at.

The other potential bet that interested me was Perez or Ocon to win Group 2 (also including Verstappen and Ricciardo), at 7.5 and 13 respectively. Verstappen, Perez and Ocon start 5th to 7th, with Ricciardo down in 10th. The Red Bull is faster, but might struggle to make headway, and Verstappen’s reliability has been a bit dodgy this weekend (not to mention potential for crashing or traffic). Verstappen is only 4 not to be classified, and if he isn’t I’d probably expect one of the Force Indias to be prime beneficiary.

So, from no bets to trying to decide between two. The agony of choice. In the end I decided to back Vandoorne to beat Alonso. History indicates it’s a 50/50 shot, and the odds are 3.5. Not tremendously exciting, but there we are.

The race starts at 2pm UK time.

Morris Dancer

Saturday, 24 June 2017

Azerbaijan: pre-qualifying 2017

Grip appears low, although engineers believe it’ll improve over the weekend.

In first practice Verstappen led Ricciardo by nearly half a second with Vettel close behind in third, and Perez splendid in fourth. Hamilton and Bottas were next, followed by Ocon, Massa, Raikkonen and Kvyat.

Verstappen also led in second practice, just a tenth ahead of Bottas, Ricciardo and Raikkonen. Vettel was close behind, and Stroll was half a second off the German. Perez, Kvyat, Ocon and Hamilton round out the top 10.

At this stage, the Red Bulls look really rather good, Force India seems in good shape, and Hamilton seems a bit lost. Still, it’s only two practice sessions (worth recalling he was poor here last year too, and off the boil in Russia 2017).

Bottas was fastest in P3, less than a tenth ahead of Raikkonen. Hamilton was a few tenths back from the Finns, with Ricciardo and Ocon a little further back. Verstappen, who had some issues, was next, then Massa, Kvyat, Stroll and Perez.

Oddly, both Hamilton and Vettel (12th in P3) seem to have slightly dodgy reliability, and Verstappen’s complained his engine sounds weird at the top end. Vettel went into the pits in P3 and didn’t emerge for fast laps, hence his lack of pace. Verstappen also suffered clutch failure and everything switching off late on in P3.

At the moment, my thinking is that qualifying could be very tight indeed, and I’m regretting not backing Raikkonen for pole each way at 15, which I was giving serious consideration but never got around to doing. I’d probably favour Bottas for pole, currently.

I backed Bottas at 4.6 for pole on Betfair, hedge set up at evens. I also backed Raikkonen each way for pole on Ladbrokes, at 9.

I hadn’t planned on two bets for qualifying, a first this season, but I was very surprised the odds were so out of kilter with the performances to date. It might not work out that way, of course, but I do feel the actual chances of Finnish success and the odds offered are quite divergent.

Qualifying is at 2pm UK time.

Morris Dancer

Monday, 12 June 2017

Canada: post-race analysis 2017

A cracking race from start to finish, marred only by the bets going mostly wrong. The safety car appeared due to daft driving by Sainz on lap one (whilst there were incidents later in the race it never emerged again, suggesting that the Spaniard’s silliness was the blame rather than the nature of the circuit). Raikkonen failed to get fastest lap, partially due to bad luck, but the hedge was happily matched so that bet ended up green. And the short odds bets on Ocon and Palmer both came off in a pretty straightforward manner. I might check match/group bets again, if they make repeat appearances.

A note, I’m writing this the day after the night before and the race was crammed with incident, so apologies in advance if I miss off little snippets or get the order a bit wrong.

Initially, the start seemed straightforward, but into the first corner Verstappen leapt all the way into 2nd and both Ferraris slid back. Worse still, Vettel’s front wing took a bit of a knock. Massa also had a poor start and his first lap became terminal when Sainz tried to cut across Grosjean, got tilted around and struck Massa whilst going in reverse at a significant rate of knots. The safety car emerged.

Hamilton was cruising off to victory, Verstappen was in great shape, the Force Indias were going well, and ahead of them (behind Bottas) was Ricciardo. Vettel’s nose took another knock and even though it was only lap 5 (of 70) he had to be pitted for the supersoft. This shoved him to the back of the race, more or less.

But he wasn’t the only one to suffer problems. Verstappen, who had had a great start and strong pace throughout, suffered an electrical failure that ended his race and brought out a virtual safety car. Very unfortunate for the Dutchman, and another reliability failure for Red Bull.

This put Bottas into 2nd and Ricciardo 3rd, but the Aussie, having pitted, was chased very closely by the two Force Indias. The Pink Panthers had also pitted, but Perez (ahead on track) had older tyres than the clearly faster Ocon. The Frenchman asked to be let through on team radio and though this was limply suggested to Perez, the Mexican flatly refused. Not much iron will at Force India (it would’ve been the right call, with the option of swapping them back if Ocon couldn’t pass Ricciardo) and I imagine there’s now a little bit of bad feeling over that.

At this stage of the race Hamilton had completed the Telegraph crossword and moved onto the Financial Times’.

Vettel was stomping through the field like a gallivanting female Ted Heath, but had a slight problem in that Raikkonen was ahead of him. However, this was remedied through unorthodox means. Raikkonen was pitted for ultrasoft tyres, emerging just behind Vettel in position (there was a big gap with Alonso behind). At this stage, my Raikkonen fastest lap bet was looking rather tasty (I suspect this is when the hedge at evens was matched).

He was told Vettel was staying out, and initially that was true, but having done so many laps on his tyres the German did end up pitting (the Ferraris were the only chaps, I think, who had two rather than one stops).

Then the inevitable happened. Alonso’s engine blew up as he was running with good pace in a strong 7th (or thereabouts). It is sounding more and more like Mercedes will have an engine in the back of McLaren next year, *if* that can be legally agreed with Honda [NB backing Alonso for the 2018 title if you can get super odds may be worth considering. The McLaren chassis is tasty].

Vettel was catching Raikkonen, and both of them were catching Ocon. But then Raikkonen suffered a brake by wire problem. He seems to have got it mended but it cost him about 6s a lap of pace for a few laps, and it seemed for a while that he’d end up falling out of the points altogether. Naturally, Vettel cruised past then reached the back of Ocon.

Going into the first corner, Perez, Ocon and Vettel were almost side-by-side. The Mexican retained position but Vettel (holding the racing line) forced Ocon to run wide. The German went on to pass Perez and claim 4th, in an excellent piece of damage limitation after a very bad start to the race and an extra pit stop. He was very close to Ricciardo but couldn’t quite pass the Aussie, who had a fantastic defensive drive for most of the race, fending off cars behind that were clearly quicker.

Hamilton finished his second crossword, and won the race at a canter, heading up a Mercedes 1-2. A lovely day for the Silver Arrows.

Ferrari lost a lot of ground today, but it could’ve been a lot worse. Vettel was 4th and Raikkonen 7th, and the German’s title lead was halved. Both teams will have some clunky races, but on such things a tight season turns.

Mixed for Red Bull as Ricciardo got a podium (have to have been a clever chap to see that coming) and Verstappen’s great start was wrecked by reliability woe. Force India had a cracking result, 5th and 6th, perhaps slightly marred by management weakness and driver intransigence (at the line there was a quarter of a second between them as Ocon tried to pass again).

Hulkenberg had a good solid race, although he could do with a bit more power in his Renault. He also had an identical race time to Lance Stroll, who finished behind the German to secure his first points.

Grosjean nabbed the final point.

In addition to drivers mentioned already, Kvyat had to be retired. The Russian was not best pleased before that, making expletive-ridden radio messages (he had received, stupidly, two penalties for the same offence, but even so).

So, the safety car bet turned out to be rubbish, the Ocon/Palmer bet turned out to be cunning (Palmer was 11th, Vandoorne 14th), and the Raikkonen bet was green or red depending on whether you hedged or not. The race is also green or red depending on if you hedged or not. The weekend overall was either red by a tiny sum or just over two stakes, on the same basis.

Not a great result. It’s slightly annoying when the bets you decide against come off, and the ones you go for don’t, but there we are.

Vettel 141
Hamilton 129
Bottas 93
Raikkonen 73

Hamilton takes a big bite out of Vettel’s lead, but if the Briton wins the next two races and Vettel’s right behind then that would only lead to a 2 point lead for Hamilton.

Mercedes 222
Ferrari 214

Raikkonen’s woe means an even bigger turn around on this table, but I think there’s been an over-reaction on the markets. Ferrari are now 3 for the title on Ladbrokes. I’ve already backed them at 4.5, but if you haven’t dipped a toe in the market, now may well be the time to put a little on Ferrari (don't get carried away, they are weaker on reliability, although their car is more flexible than the Mercedes).

Some gossip from the BBC today was of interest. Wolff reckons Rosberg might return to F1, going to Ferrari. I can’t see it myself. Vettel won’t be going anywhere and I can’t see Rosberg wanting to be a number two driver. A more interesting rumour is that Kubica might come back. The Pole was a fantastic driver and if he’s still got the pace he could be a title contender.

The next race is the irrationally named European Grand Prix. In Azerbaijan’s capital, Baku. It was memorable last year for mostly being more tedious than Monaco but with a ridiculous straight. I think that could be good for Bottas and Perez. Hamilton was oddly rubbish there last year, and the Finn’s got a great car for straight line speed. Force India proved in Canada they’re similarly competitive on the straights and Perez is very good on street circuits. Expecting woe unending for McLaren. Again.

We visit Baku in a fortnight.

Morris Dancer

Sunday, 11 June 2017

Canada: pre-race 2017

Well, my tip proved neither strong nor stable. It looked really close (four-thousandths in it) after the first run in Q3, but Hamilton ended up on pole by a day and a half.

In the first part of qualifying we lost mostly those you might expect to toddle off. Vandoorne was fastest to depart, follow by Stroll (but his team mate made Q3, so questions about his speed won’t stop any time soon). Magnussen, Ericsson and Wehrlein also exited stage left, with the German touching the grass, spinning and ploughing backwards into the barriers.

Sainz complained in Q2 of giving Kvyat a slipstream (as planned, on the main straight) but the favour not being returned. Either way, the Russian qualified 11th, with the Spaniard 13th (his countryman, Alonso, between the Toro Rossos). Grosjean and Palmer prop up the departure list. I can’t see Palmer lasting beyond this season (there was a rumour he might be replaced in-season. It would be unusual, but not unprecedented).

In the first run of qualifying Hamilton put in a stonking lap but Vettel got within four-thousandths of a second (the Finns were a little way further back). It seemed game on, but Hamilton went even faster and Vettel couldn’t get close. Another front row for the title contenders, but the bet was as silly as an unnecessary General Election (well, perhaps not quite that silly).

Bottas edged Raikkonen on the Finnish row and Red Bull occupied their 2017 customary position of row three, Verstappen ahead of Ricciardo. Massa qualified 10 places ahead of his team mate, with Perez alongside him (Force India looking tasty), Ocon and Hulkenberg rounding out the top 10.

Initial betting thoughts:
Force India double score
Perez top 6
Stroll DNF
Raikkonen podium

I’ve already backed No Safety Car at 3, so if nothing leaps out at me I’m quite content with that single bet (the odds have shortened slightly to 2.62. Probably still value).

Force India are 1.66 to double score. Too short. I think it’s eminently possible but it only takes one of them to have a bad start or suffer misfortune/crash to fail.

Perez is only 1.83 to be top 6. That likely requires him to beat Massa (eminently possible) and a Red Bull to DNF. However, the Red Bulls are, each, 4.33 to DNF, so I’d be more inclined to back that than the Perez bet (Ocon’s very much on pace, so there’s a chance the Frenchman could beat his Mexican team mate too).

Stroll is 2.37 not to be classified. He’s got 4 DNFs this year, although most of them weren’t his fault (hit by other cars or reliability). Bit too short to tempt, given those circumstances.

Raikkonen is 1.83 for a podium. Reasonable, but not fantastic.

I’m inclined to avoid the winner market because I think the Ferrari’s very good but Hamilton has a great record here. Incidentally, Canada’s track has the lowest pole-to-win conversion rate of any race (about a third). The odds are too short for me (you’d need to lay down a slab of money to make anything worth winning) but Betfair has, at the time of writing odds of Hamilton and Vettel, respectively, of 1.8 and 2.92 to win. You could, therefore, back both (relative stakes of 3.24 and 2 for roughly equal profit) and finish ahead if either wins, but the profit margin would be something like 10% of the total stake. I am not backing this myself, but thought it worth flagging up in case any of you found it interesting.

Anyway, excepting the Red Bull-rather-than-Perez bet above, none looked too appealing. A quick perusal of the markets found the following:
Raikkonen, fastest lap, 8.5
Ricciardo/Verstappen, not to be classified, 4.33 (each)
Ocon to win Betting Group C, 1.72 [includes Hulkenberg, Sainz and Kvyat]
Perez to beat Massa, 2.1 [3:3 so far, but Massa usually better in qualifying]
Palmer to beat Vandoorne, 2 [4:2 so far, Palmer has 2 DNFs to Vandoorne’s 4]

In the last three races three different chaps (Rosberg, Raikkonen and Massa) have had fastest laps. Assuming effort’s being put in, only one of the top four will get it this year (indeed, the year Massa got it, 2014, the Williams was rather tasty). If one of Vettel or Hamilton has the edge, then the other will likely settle into 2nd to avoid stressing the car, and Raikkonen does seem to like getting fastest laps. Odds of 8.5 are value, and it’s worth considering. Raikkonen has had 2 fastest laps in 5 finishes, which is quite a high rate.

Ricciardo and Verstappen each have 2 DNFs out of 6 races. So, a third of a chance each of being knocked out. Therefore, 4.33 is more or less fair. However, Canada does have some very tight spots, so if you get it wrong (excepting the hairpin where there’s nice run-off) in most places you’re either going to say hello to the wall or spin and hope you can keep going.

Betting group C (Ladbrokes) includes Ocon, Hulkenberg, Sainz and Kvyat. The Force India is the most reliable of these and is also the fastest. The potential spanner in the works is Hulkenberg (4) who starts right behind Ocon. However, the Renault has typically gone backwards rather than forwards in the race. If it were 2.5 or suchlike, I’d back this, but 1.72 is a bit mean. Upon checking, Hulkenberg has beaten Ocon only once in six races, and that was when they qualified, respectively, 7th and 14th in Bahrain, and it was by a single place. Hmm. Maybe this is worth backing.

Perez is 2.1 to beat Massa. They’re even matched (3:3) in races so far, but usually Massa has a qualifying advantage and this time the Brazilian is just one place ahead. Pretty tempting.

Palmer to beat Vandoorne is evens. The Briton has a 4:2 advantage, and has just 2 DNFs to Vandoorne’s 4. This is value.

So, a surfeit of potential bets. Bit awkward, really, especially as I’ve already made one. None of the ideas I had before checking the odds are long enough to tempt.

The Raikkonen fastest lap bet is tempting. Red Bull DNF isn’t long enough. Ocon’s odds are short, but it’s a very likely outcome, if he finishes. Perez’s odds are a little short (the Williams often slides down the order, but not always). Palmer to beat Vandoorne is value, simply because Vandoorne’s car has a 67% DNF rate.

Got to back the Raikkonen bet. He’s had 1 of 3 fastest laps at the circuit in the last 3 years and 2 out of 5 fastest laps in finishes this year. In the joint fastest car, odds of 8.5 are too long. Those odds are Ladbrokes. I set up a hedge at evens on Betfair (as an aside, whenever I set up a hedge I do it in such a way to be more ahead if the initial bet comes off than if it doesn’t, and usually to be up one stake, net, if it does not).

So, tips (all Ladbrokes, save the hedge):
[Carry-over from yesterday – No Safety Car at 3. Currently 2.62. Probably still value but for the records it stands at 3].
Raikkonen, fastest lap, 8.5 [hedged at evens on Betfair]
One stake split evenly between: Ocon, 1.72, to win betting group C; Palmer to beat Vandoorne, 2

The race starts at 7pm, UK time. Let’s hope it’s a good one.

Morris Dancer

Saturday, 10 June 2017

Canada: pre-qualifying 2017

Ahead of practice I tipped No Safety Car at 3 [Ladbrokes]. The reasoning behind that bet is that in the last 7 races there have been 2 featuring a safety car appearance, and the weather forecast is for the race to be dry. It’s not a dead cert, but I do feel the odds are too long.

Update: ahead of third practice I read that the tyres aren’t providing much grip and everyone’s spinning. Not a definite wrecker of the bet, but not helpful…

In first practice Hamilton was fastest, two-tenths up on Vettel, with Bottas and Raikkonen close behind. Perez and Ocon were next, with Verstappen, Massa, Ricciardo and Kvyat rounding out the top 10.

Raikkonen was fastest in second practice, two-tenths up on Hamilton, who was closely followed by Vettel. Bottas, Verstappen, Massa, Alonso, Ocon, Kvyat and Perez were next up.

Looking tight at the top. Force India looking quite quick, likewise Massa.

In third practice, Vettel was top dog, a full three-tenths ahead of Raikkonen. Hamilton and Verstappen were both within a tenth of the Finn, with Bottas some way further back. Hulkenberg, Massa, Ricciardo, Ocon and Sainz rounded out the top 10.

At this stage, it’s looking pretty good for Ferrari, but we must wait and see how things unfold.

I was a bit surprised to see that Vettel was 2.2 for pole. He had a clear advantage over his rivals in third practice. But was that representative? Hmm. Also, mildly surprised Alonso was 3 to reach Q3. He was 12th in P3 and 7th in P2, but it’s very tight.

Alas, Alonso tempts me but his car is as resilient as a shield made of cheese, so I can’t back that.

I don’t think Raikkonen will trouble Vettel and the Ferrari does seem to be top dog. Odds are short, but my dilemma was cunningly resolved by Ladbrokes oddly claiming the event had started and betting was suspended.

I decided to back Vettel on Betfair, for pole, at 2.22.

Qualifying is today at 6pm, but the race starts at 7pm tomorrow (UK times). The pre-race article is likely to be up tomorrow morning, and the post-race analysis on Monday morning.

Morris Dancer