Qualifying was a little unexpected, for me, at least.
The first session had the usual departures of the Williams, and the more surprising exit of Sainz, who suffered a reliability failure. Kvyat and Stroll also failed to make the cut.
In Q2 it was as competitive as ever. Norris was a hundredth off Raikkonen, but couldn’t progress, whereas the Finn did. Behind Norris were Ricciardo, Giovinazzi, Hulkenberg and Perez.
The first runs in the final part of qualifying had Verstappen top dog, eight-thousandths ahead of Vettel, Leclerc being next. On the final run only two of chaps at the sharp end could improve, Verstappen extending his triumph by a tenth, and Hamilton nudging ahead of Leclerc (who has a grid penalty of 10 places in any event). Bottas and Albon will be behind this year’s champion, followed by Gasly, Grosjean, Raikkonen, and Magnussen.
The weather should be dry. Leclerc, as mentioned, has a 10 place grid penalty. Sainz races despite not setting a qualifying time.
My initial betting thoughts were:
Leclerc top 6
Verstappen is just 1.83 for the win. I think he has a great chance, although if I go for this it’d be the win-only enhanced market where he’s a marginally longer 1.91 (evens on Betfair). Bit tight, though.
Leclerc is only 1.25 for a top 6 finish. Could happen, and probably will, but there’s plenty of opportunity to either screw up or have someone else get in your way. Too short to tempt.
Norris is 1.67 for points. Bit tight, perhaps still value.
Other things that caught my eye:
Vettel, win (each way), 6
Vettel, first lap leader, 3.5
Bottas, win (each way), 10 (15.5 win-only Betfair)
Vettel was closest to Verstappen and has longer odds than Hamilton despite starting ahead of him. There’s also the chance the Dutchman will bugger up the start (happened a couple of times) allowing Vettel to pass him (although the run to the first corner is short). (7 win-only is up on Betfair).
That’s the basis of the 3.5 first lap leader for Vettel idea.
Hamilton has a history of going off the boil a bit after securing a title, so Bottas at 10 may be worth considering too. Both he and Vettel have been driving pretty well lately. Although Verstappen’s rightly the favourite. He’s 15.5 on Betfair.
So, lots of marginal value and nothing that stands out.
Decided to go for Bottas on Betfair at 15.5 for the win with a hedge set up at 5.
Race start is 5.10pm UK time. Post-race might be up this evening or tomorrow morning.