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Sunday, 9 September 2012, by

Italy Pre-Race Analysis

Alonso's denied pole by mechanical failure
Qualifying Results
Starting Position
1st
Hamilton
2nd
Button
3rd
Massa
4th
di Resta*
5th
Schumacher
6th
Vettel
7th
Rosberg
8th
Raikkonen
9th
Kobayashi
10th
Alonso
11th
Webber
12th
Maldonado*
13th
Perez
14th
Senna
15th
Recciardo
16th
d'Ambrosio
17th
Vergne
18th
Kovalainen
*di Resta – 5 place penalty.
*Maldonado – 10 place penalty.

Alonso set the quickest time in Q1 and Q2 but a mechanical failure by a part of his car that cost only a single Euro left him 10th on the grid. Hamilton has been looking like his main competitor all weekend and took pole position. His odds of 4/5 (1.80) from Blue Square might look low but Monza has been won from pole on nine of the last eleven races. Although substantial money would have to be risked to see a large profit it is very difficult to recommend any other driver for victory. Button has 133/50 (3.66) from Betfair and might at best be worth a back up bet. If betting £10, put £7 on Hamilton and £3 on Button to see £5.60 profit for a Hamilton victory, £1 profit for a Button victory and a £10 loss for anyone else. However, with pole so crucial at Monza just focusing on Hamilton is only slightly riskier but probably wiser.

Further down the field immense amounts of profit could be made but you'd be gambling on the McLaren's suffering from a mechanical fault, higher than average tire degradation or simply lacking race pace. Massa has 19/1 (20.0), Schumacher 56/1 (57.0) and Vettel 26/1 (27.00) all from Betfair. An alternative betting approach would be placing a smaller amount of money on each of these rather than betting on the McLarens. Risking £3 would see profits of £19, £56 and £26 respectively. The big outsider would Alonso, looking like he has the fastest car but being so far back odds of 12/ 1(13.0) from SkyBet cannot be recommended.

Assuming the McLarens race off into the distance then the most interesting question is who takes the final step on the podium. Massa has odds of 9/4 (3.25) from Bet 365, Schumacher 39/10 (4.90) from Betfair and Vettel 11/4 (3.75) from Bet 365. With Massa being further up the field, Schumacher having the car with the top speed and Vettel usually finishing close to the podium there is very little to choose between them. With highest odds and both Mercedes running well Schumacher is probably the bet best. Finally, Rosberg is 6th on the grid and is looking undervalued for a top 6 finish at 3/2 (2.50) from Betfair. Although he will have to hold off Raikkonen or pass Vettel to remain top 6 his Mercedes should have the pace for this to be a serious possibility.

Friday, 7 September 2012, by

Italy Pre-Qualifying Analysis

Button looking resurgent taking 2nd in both practice sessions
Free Practice Results
FP1
FP2
Schumacher
Hamilton
Button
Button
Rosberg
Alonso
Alonso
Rosberg
Massa
Rosberg
Hamilton
Raikkonen
Raikkonen
di Resta
Perez
Hulkenberg
Webber
Perez
Maldonado
Schumacher
Vettel
Webber
Hulkenberg
Vettel
Bottas
Maldonado
Kobayashi
Ricciardo
d'Ambrosia
Ricciardo
Banchi
Kobayashi
Ricciardo
Senna
Vergne
Kovalainen
With Hamilton topping FP2 and Button taking 2nd in both sessions McLaren look powerful. As usual, the Red Bulls do high fuel race runs until FP3 so their lack of pace can be discounted. Alonso set some extremely competitive lap times despite suffering from mechanical issues in both sessions. Mercedes also ran well with Schumacher setting the fastest time in FP1 and managed 8th in FP2 despite his DRS failing.

As discussed in the previous blog entry, Monza is won from pole more than most circuits. Instead of betting on pole postion decide who you think will be on pole and bet on them as a race winner instead, taking advantage of the higher odds prior to qualifying. With Alonso and Button so rarely taking pole Hamilton is currently the favourite so has relatively low odds of 49/20 (3.75) from Blue Square. Since the top 8 drivers were within a quarter of a second of Hamilton these are not great odd. Button at 9/2 (5.50) from Betfair and Alonso at 5/1 (6.00) from SkyBet seem too ambitious given how rarely they take pole (Button took pole in the last race but since that was his first pole position with McLaren he would truly have had to reinvent his performance to become a regular pole sitter). Hamilton's main contender are probably Red Bull. Since they usually perform well here 81/10 (9.10) from Betfair is incredibly good odds for Vettel to win on Sunday. Webber has a massive 19/1 (20.00) from Betfair but Vettel has the edge since Webber has yet to take pole this season. With the Red Bulls yet to reveal their pace there is much uncertainty but with Hamilton only slightly quicker than the Force India the high odds of the Red Bulls look like the best bet.

The major exception to betting on race winner instead of pole sitting is Mercedes. Schumacher's DRS failure may have cost as much as one second a lap so expect them to be extremely competitive. However, they usually fall back during the race so betting on qualifying is advised. 12/1 (13.00) for Schumacher and 14/1 (15.00) for Rosberg from SkyBet for pole is good value, as is 119/50 (3.38) and 57/20 (3.85) respectively for qualifying top 3 from Betfair.

Odds above accurate at Saturday 7th, 18.38 GMT. Click to see live odds.

Image © nic_r

Thursday, 6 September 2012, by

Italy Pre-Weekend Analysis

The 13th Race of 2012, Italian Grand Prix at Monza.

Previous Winners
2011
Vettel
2010
Alonso
2009
Barrichello
2008
Vettel
2007
Alonso
2006
Schumacher
2005
Raikkonen
2004
Barrichello
2003
Schumacher
2002
Barrichello
2001
Montoya
Formula 1 returns to one of the classic race courses, a track which has been standard on the calendar ever since the inception of F1. Hopefully Monza will also be far more standard than the last race. With perfectly warm weather and no rain predicted (see F1 Weather for details) there should be a whole weekend of running. Also, the first corner of the Italian GP sees far fewer accidents than at Spa.

The key to Monza, more than most other tracks, is pole position. The Italian GP is arguably one of the simpler race courses and so there is less reason for the fastest driver and fastest car not to take pole position and the win. Over the past few years none of the top teams have had a vast advantage, with Red Bull, McLaren and Ferrari performing roughly equally well here. The pace of the Lotus is unknown. They are not using their double DRS reports Sky Sports but could still be a threat since they usually perform best on warmer tracks. The favourite is Hamilton with odds of 3/1 (4.00) from Paddy Power. Having never won here and only reached the podium once in five races at Monza these are not particularly promising odds. Button, Alonso, Vettel and Raikkonen all have odds between 5/1 (6.00) and 6/1 (7.00) from Betfair. These are better odds than Hamilton's but there is currently little to choose between them. The Mercedes usually run well here, liking the high speed straights of Monza. Given their recent weak performances victory would be a true gamble. Podiums are probably unlikely but top 6 at 9/4 (3.25) from Blue Square for both drivers is good value for money.

Grid position of race winner since 2001
Grid Position
Number of times
1st
7
4th
2
5th
1
The high speeds of Monza puts the most mechanical strain on the cars than any other circuit so reliability is a factor. With modern F1 cars so reliable this is not too much of a concern but works slightly in favour of Ferrari and against Red Bull, Lotus and Mercedes. However, it is worth noting that Webber changed his gear box in Belgium and hopefully will not be plagued by this problem again. He has the highest odds for a top 6 finish of all the top drivers at 67/100 (1.67) from SkyBet and this looks good value for money given his new gear box.

With seven of the last ten race wins coming from pole there is a useful alternative strategy. Rather than betting on both qualifying and race winner, affectively combine the bets by just betting on race winner. Pick who you think will take pole and bet on them to win the race, taking advantage of the far higher odds for race winner available before qualifying. However, the current pace of the teams is difficult to judge. The upgrades from the summer have not yet revealed their potential after the rain drenched Belgium practice meant set up was guess work. How they will run in a normal race is very much unknown. Waiting for free practice one and free practice two is advised although with this uncertainty ideally wait for free practice three also.

Odds above accurate at Wednesday 5th, 23.43 GMT. Click to see live odds.

Image © marco_ask

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