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A very unusual qualifying session.
Qualifying Results
Starting Position
di Resta
*Maldonado – 3 place penalty.
*Webber – 5 place penalty.

Button takes his first poll position in two years during one of t strangest qualifying results in the last few seasons. Both Saubers achieved their best qualifying position with Kobayashi 2nd and Perez 5th. Raikkonen also had best qualifying of the year by coming in 4th. Maldonado's excellent 3rd was demoted to 6th after blocking a car in the pitlane (see Planet F1), promoting Raikkonen, Perez and Alonso.

There is no obvious reason why so many drivers who are relatively weak at qualifying have taken substantially higher grid positions than the Red Bulls or Hamilton. Since it is unclear why this happened it is also unclear if those who qualified well will be able to retain pace during the race. Caution is heavily advised for betting on Spa this year.

Jenson Button is the favourite to win with odds of 7/5 (2.40) from Paddy Power. The McLaren generally does not suit Spa that well and there is speculation that Button was so much quicker than Hamilton because his car was set up for qualifying so these odds are not brilliant. Raikkonen is second favourite with 7/2 (4.50) from Bet 365. Raikkonen almost always does better in the race than qualifying, the Lotus having arguably the best race pace of any car in the field. Having won here four times, Raikkonen has an excellent chance of taking a fifth victory at Spa from 3rd on the grid. 7/2 (4.50) is good odds though also placing a equally sized bet on Button would ensure a profit whichever wins would be wise.

The big uncertainty are Sauber. They usually do well in high speed tracks in colder weather which puts them at home in Belgium. In the correct conditions the Sauber often show massive race pace and can often finish far ahead of where they qualify, Perez taking podiums from 10th and 15th on the grid. If Spa is one of the courses that maximises their potential pace – and qualifying suggests that it is – then a win cannot be discounted. 113/10 (14.3) from Betfair for Kobayashi and 83/5 (17.60) from Betfair for Perez are both worth at least a small bet. If victory sounds ambitious then podiums at 57/25 (3.28) from Betfair for Kobayashi and 7/2 (4.50) from SkyBet for Perez seem good value given that the Saubers usually finishing higher than they qualify. The Saubers may split their strategy, with Kobayashi covering the leaders whilst Perez tries his own strategy which he has so masterfully pulled of in the past so hopefully at least one Sauber will find the best strategy and take the podium. Top 6 are also good odds at 67/100 (1.67) from Blue Square for Kobayashi and 1/1 (2.00) from Blue Square for Perez.

The best strategy would be betting on all the top four for victory, trying to break even on a Button victory and profit for the other four. As a rough approximate example, betting £30 with £12 on Button, £14 on Raikkonen, £3 on Kobayashi and £2 on Perez would yield £1 profit if Button wins, £14 if Raikkonen wins, £12 if Kobayashi wins and £10 if Perez wins. The major challenge to this plan is Alonso in 5th. Maldonado should hold up many of the pack who lacked pace in qualifying and additionally di Resta might hold up Vettel in 11th and a demoted Webber in 12th (see ESPN.). Alonso's relentless nature is renowned but his win's at Malyasia and Valencia were dependent upon a car higher up the field having a slow pit stop or retiring . Since Alonso free admits his car is weaker than the Lotus and the McLaren it is difficult to imagine him taking victory without luck coming his way (see ESPN). Overall though, with so many uncertainties after such a bizarre qualifying it is very difficult to guess what race pace each car will approximately have so live betting or simply avoiding betting on Spa this year might ultimately prove wisest.

Odds above accurate at Saturday 2nd, 01.02 GMT. Click to see live odds.

Image © samarvid