Saturday, 26 August 2017

Belgium: pre-race 2017

I’m beginning to get quite aggravated. Last race a rare safety car (first on a first lap in Hungary in over three decades) and an inexplicably lenient call on Sainz meant some tips didn’t come off, here Raikkonen was plagued by a serious vibration throughout qualifying and made a mistake on his final lap (the other three drivers all improved markedly on their last lap).

He’d been faster than Vettel all weekend and, if not better than Hamilton (the final distance between Hamilton and Vettel was not insurmountable) certainly in with a good chance of being best of the rest. Good and bad luck interferes a lot with F1, and whilst I had some good a few races ago, the last two or three have been plagued with misfortune.

Raikkonen really should’ve been 2nd, with an outside shot of pole.

Rant over, qualifying threw up some surprises.

Williams were dire. Whilst most expected Sauber to be slowest (and they were), both Williams left in Q1 (Stroll was unable to do a second run due to a problem with his car). That’s pretty poor. Kvyat also failed to reach Q2.

In the second session it was tight between those who were booted out and those who sneaked through. Ultimately, both Renaults (Palmer driving very well) and both Force Indias got through, with Alonso (angrily lamenting loss of power), Grosjean, Magnussen, Sainz and 65 grid penalty-laden Vandoorne progressing no further.

On the initial run in Q3, Hamilton was ahead of Raikkonen by over three-tenths, with Raikkonen ahead slightly of Bottas, and Vettel close behind. Palmer, having driven very well, unfortunately suffered a car failure that meant he didn’t post a time. On the final runs, everyone improved dramatically except Raikkonen (damn it), who screwed up and ended up 4th, when he really should’ve been 2nd. Vettel, however, set up a very tasty front row, just behind Hamilton, and Bottas is 3rd.

For the record, Hamilton has equalled Schumacher’s 68 pole positions.

Behind the quartet at the front Red Bull are again on the third row, Verstappen fastest, Hulkenberg starts off 7th, Perez and Ocon are next, and Palmer should be 10th (unsure if he’ll have any penalties, though).

As an aside, an early bet I considered but didn’t back was Hulkenberg top 6 at 3.5, so it’ll be interesting to see how much those odds have changed. Also worth noting that the Ferrari, in practice, appeared faster on the long runs.

My first thoughts on potential bets were:
Ferrari top score
Ferrari double podium
Raikkonen fastest lap
Hulkenberg top 6 [maybe match with LadEx all top six drivers to score points]
Force India double score

Ferrari are just 2.5 for a double podium. Too tight for me.

Raikkonen is 6 for fastest lap. That’s somewhat interesting. The Ferrari looked good on long runs and he has a great record at Spa.

Force India are 1.53 for a double points finish. Very likely, but the odds aren’t great.

Hulkenberg is 3.75 to be top 6 (up from 3.5 pre-weekend). I don’t get that. He’s qualified as high as he could expect to (7th), and his odds are longer than both Force Indias. Whilst true the Renault has worse reliability, he’s a good driver, has a good record at the circuit and is first in line if anyone ahead of him breaks down or crashes.

Annoyingly, there doesn’t appear to be a top score market (or they’re taking a while to make it up).

Of these, Hulkenberg looks somewhat tempting, likewise Raikkonen, but neither are clear shots.

After perusing the markets to see if anything leapt out like an outraged baboon, I found:
Vettel, win, 5.2 (Betfair)

The Ferrari looked tasty on long runs and the team will obviously favour Vettel if it comes down to that. Against this is the generally poor starts the Ferraris have had relative to the Mercedes and a short run to the first corner (that mitigates the risk to Vettel but also reduces his opportunity).

In short, there is nothing that particularly appeals.

That said, the Vettel bet coupled with (Ladbrokes) Hamilton to beat Vettel at 1.57 looks like an interesting possibility. All else being equal one of those two should win.

Note: Ladbrokes has reverted to ‘classified’ rather than ‘finish’.

The odds slipped a bit but I backed Vettel at 4.9 (Betfair) for the win, hedged at evens. To be honest, it’s one of those races I’d probably sit out if I didn’t tip every race.

Morris Dancer

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