Both Renaults also have penalties (along with the Red Bulls, Alonso and Sainz).
After initially going out in wet conditions, and kudos to the decision-makers for not taking the easy option of delaying, the first session of qualifying was red-flagged after Grosjean crashed, and we endured about two and a half hours of delay.
In the latter part of Q1 Raikkonen was released in an unsafe manner, almost hitting Perez, so he may get a penalty for that. Magnussen, Palmer, Ericsson, Wehrlein and the crashed Grosjean left at this stage.
In Q2 cars went out on a mix of intermediates and wets. Perez was the fastest to be eliminated, followed by Hulkenberg, Alonso, Kvyat, and Sainz. Stroll and Vandoorne both were impressive, and reached Q3 (Stroll being fifth fastest in Q2).
Rain intensified in Q3, and again a mix of full wets and intermediates were used. Hamilton, Bottas and Vettel went for intermediates. Everyone else went full wet. Those three soon regretted it and immediately switched for the full wets. A critical mistake? Not for the Silver Arrows, but the Ferraris were bizarrely slow (having been competitive in previous sessions with slightly lighter rain).
Hamilton hos his 69th pole (a new record) ahead of Verstappen and Ricciardo. Stroll and Ocon were next up, having done absolutely fantastic jobs in the wet (I’m very surprised the Williams was so good in the wet). Bottas and Raikkonen were next, and Vettel, who had looked competitive earlier, could only manage 8th. Massa and Vandoorne round out the top 10.
Remember, both Renaults, both Red Bulls, Alonso and Sainz all have hefty grid penalties. So, Stroll and Ocon will start 2nd and 3rd.
Tomorrow is meant to be dry. With that in mind, bets that seemed worth a look included:
Williams to double score
Perez top 6
Williams are 3.5 to double score. They’ll be starting 2nd and 7th, with a DNF rate of just under 33% (7/24). Worth considering.
Weirdly, despite waiting quite some time, there was no top 6 market on Ladbrokes. On Betfair, Perez had odds of just 2.14, and 3 on Betfair Sportsbook. Hmm. Not quite long enough, probably about right.
Vettel is just 1.33 for a podium. He starts 6th. Whilst it’s likely, it’s a bit too short to tempt.
In time-honoured tradition I embarked upon a general perusal to see what else leapt out, if anything.
Ocon, lead lap 1, 15 (Betfair Sportsbook)
Stroll, lead lap 1, 11 (Ladbrokes)
Ocon, podium, 12 (Betfair Sportsbook)
Verstappen, not to be classified, 3.25 (Betfair Sportsbook)
Ocon has a very good starting record. It’s not long to turn 1, but I could see him making up ground. Stroll’s a little harder to assess, but the odds are quite long for cars starting 2nd and 3rd, and both are quick in a straight line. However, Hamilton has been starting well all year.
Bottas starts 4th and seems nigh on certain to acquire a podium, Vettel starts 6th. In races so far the Force India has been better than the Williams (it wasn’t in the wet, it must be said, but a dry track is a different animal). Also, the Force India is very reliable, with only the organic component in the cockpit proving occasionally unstable. Could Ocon hold off Vettel? A one-stop seems likely, offering a single undercut possibility if the deed can’t be done on track.
Verstappen has a 50% DNF rate. However, it’s worth noting this is all car reliability, he hasn’t been screwing up. But he’ll also start well down the field, increasing the chances of getting caught in lap 1 carnage.
Looking at all the bets above, the ones that appeal most are Williams to double score (they start 2nd and 7th) at 3.5, and Verstappen not to be classified at 3.25 [NB this was an early tip].
No rain is expected for the race, apparently. But the forecast for qualifying and practice was wrong a few days away, so take with a pinch of salt.
The bet that I like most is Williams to double score. Looking at Q2 (least wet session) and the first two practices, I think they have the pace to retain points.
Tip: Williams, double score, 3.5 (Ladbrokes).
Let’s hope the race is entertaining and profitable. And on time.