Sunday, 8 May 2022

Miami: pre-race 2022

Well, the pace from practice vanished for Mercedes and the car, while fast in the midfield, was never really in the running for pole. It also looked a bloody handful.

Ocon was out in Q1, although he did have the very good excuse of not driving in it at all. His third practice crash was too much to be mended in time, which is a shame but there we are. Both Williams went out, with Albon just barely ahead of Latifi (tyre warm up, I think, being the problem). Zhou Guanyu also failed to progress but he did have a final fast lap utterly buggered by a traffic jam late on. Magnussen was the fastest eliminated driver.

Q2 eliminations were ultra-close, with Alonso, Russell, and Vettel all within a tenth of the time they needed. Alonso felt Sainz had blocked him, and Russell had the pace but couldn’t get in a clean lap. Not due to traffic, but due to his car being very unco-operative (though Hamilton managed to get through). Ricciardo was 14th, the lion’s share of a second behind his team mate, with Schumacher slowest.

And so to Q3 which was the standard Red Bull-Ferrari duel as the Mercedes’ pace of practice had long since proved to be a mirage. Once again, Leclerc got pole, and has his team mate for company. I hope Sainz can have a clean race. He edged ahead of Verstappen by five-thousandths of a second, and Perez was only four-hundredths further back.

Best of the midfield was Bottas, four-tenths behind the Mexican and a tenth and a half ahead of Hamilton. Gasly and Norris are the fourth row, while row five is Tsunoda and Stroll. As an aside, I was pretty surprised by the lack of a red flag.

Early betting thoughts:

Leclerc win
Bottas podium
Alonso points

Leclerc has a good habit of turning poles into wins, and is 1.92 on Betfair, 1.85 Ladbrokes to do so. The start’s critical, the circuit is thought to be tricky for passing, and Red Bull earlier had some problems with reliability. Not exactly imaginative, but may still be worth backing.

Bottas is 8 for a podium with Betfair (only 5.5 Ladbrokes). He looks best of the rest with a car easier to handle than Mercedes and if the Red Bulls do fall off a cliff, or into a wall, or Sainz has more bad luck he should be first in line to inherit the final podium spot. Three of the four races so far have had a non-Red Bull/Ferrari driver on the podium.

Alonso should’ve been in the final session and came very close even feeling he was blocked. He’s also very quick and sharp in wheel-to-wheel racing. However, his odds are only 1.71 with Betfair and while he has a good shot of achieving this the close barriers and potential for someone else’s incompetence to damage his car does make me a bit wary at odds that short.

 

I did peruse the markets but either I’m too sleepy to see anything tempting (and not all the markets are up yet) or there was nothing too intriguing. So I decided to wait a few hours for more markets to appear.

After waiting until 2pm, a few more things were up.

Bottas to win group 1, 3.25
All Red Bull/Ferrari drivers to be top 4, 4

Bottas is in a group with Hamilton, Norris, and Russell. The Mercedes would seem the biggest threat, but Bottas has been driving pretty well all season. Quite tempted by this.

The top two teams are clearly in a league of their own on pace, but it’s easy to crash around this circuit and Red Bull seem to still be struggling for reliability. I’m surprised that Ferrari has 3.2 and Red Bull 3.5 to have one or two non-classified finishers, which isn’t a perfect hedge but could work fairly well if you decide to back this. Individually, Sainz is 4.5 not to be classified and every other top driver is 5. On pace, this should be easy but as mentioned already, it’s not exactly happened at every race so far.

So, a few possibilities but nothing stand-out fantastic.

Decided to back Bottas to win group 1 (3.3 with boost). Hard picking the value but I think Hamilton might be his only challenger, and being odds against despite starting ahead is worth a look.

 

Race starts at the unhelpful hour of 8.30pm UK time. If there’s a post-race ramble it’ll be tomorrow, but very chance there won’t be one.

Morris Dancer

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