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Friday, 12 October 2012

Korea Pre-Qualifying Analysis

Both the strongest qualifiers top free practice
Free Practice Results
FP1
FP2
Hamilton
Vettel
Alonso
Webber
Webber
Alonso
Massa
Button
Vettel
Schumacher
Schumacher
Massa
Rosberg
Rosberg
Grosjean
Hamilton
di Resta
Hulkenberg
Button
Raikkonen
Raikkonen
Grosjean
Maldonado
Senna
Bianchi
di Resta
Kobayashi
Kobayashi
Perez
Perez
Ricciardo
Vergne
Vergne
Ricciardo
Bottas
Maldonado
Although Hamilton toped FP1, the chances are that Vettel will dominate Korea in 2012. He won in 2011 and was leading the race in 2010 before retirement from mechanical failure. Although he was only 5th in FP1, during the high speed runs both Red Bulls held a good lead over their competitors, with Hamilton only managing 8th. This gives Vettel the substantially lowest odds but this also means Hamilton and Webber have much higher odds. Vettel’s odds of 7/10 (1.70) for pole from Blue Square are not bad but Webber was within a 10th of a second and has odds of 61/10 (7.10) from Betfair for pole. Placing a main bet on Vettel and a back up bet on Webber is advised. If betting £10, place £7 on Vettel to see a return of £12.6 and £2 on Webber to see a return of £14.2. The interesting question is if Hamilton can challenge them but based on the high speed runs in FP2 it looks doubtful. Meanwhile, pole position from anyone else is difficult to imagine.

For some early bets on the race itself it is worth noting that both the Mercedes qualified above both Lotus driver in FP1 and FP2. Mercedes have had some good result in Korea despite a retirement each race, with Schumacher coming 4th in 2010 and Rosberg running 5th before accidentally running wide and coming 8th. Although taking podiums would be highly ambitious, both drivers have very good odds for a top six finish. Rosberg had (4.33) from Paddy Power and Schumacher had (4.50) from Bet 365 , both of which are good value for money.

Odds above accurate at Friday 12th, 20.38 GMT. Click to see live odds.

Image © Ryosuke Yagi

As the season draws to a close Red Bull find themselves in the paradoxical situation of looking likely to win the driver’s championship after such a long wait this season whilst they are finally facing a strong challenge in the constructors. Their main rivals throughout the season are McLaren but Button had a dreadful run between Bahrain and Silverstone whilst Hamilton was rarely fully on the pace during that period, leaving Red Bull the clear favourites. However, since Germany McLaren have arguably been the fastest car with both Button and Hamilton scoring race wins. Also, Webber has had a run of terrible luck plus a couple of poor performances since since Silverstone.

Going into Korea McLaren are 43 points behind Red Bull. They would have to score an average of 9 points more than Red Bull between both drivers each race to take the constructors championship. If the McLaren is quicker than the Red Bull currently then this is not impossible. Except for Hamilton’s mechanical failure in Singapore, McLaren would have won four of the last five races and if they could do the same in the remaining five races they would take the constructor’s championship. Although Vettel had a very strong result at Japan this might not be reflective of the future races since Hamilton was hampered by a poor mechanical setup the entire weekend. However, it is worth noting that Vettel was extremely dominant in the remaining circuits in 2010 and 2011. Although Red Bull are rightly the firm favourites, odds of 1/4 (1.25) from Blue Square pay off far too low to be worth a bet. McLaren’s odds of 7/2 (4.50) from Bet 365 are considerably better value although placing a large bet down is not advised given that Red Bull are still the most likely to win.

Odds above accurate at October 11th, 15:28 GMT. Click to see live odds.

Thursday, 11 October 2012

Japan Pre-Race Analysis

First Red Bull front row in 2012
Qualifying Results
Starting Position
1st
Vettel
2nd
Webber
3rd
Kobayashi
4th
Grosjean
5th
Perez
6th
Alonso
6th
Raikkonen
8th
Button
9th
Hamilton
10th
Massa
11th
di Resta
12th
Maldonado
13th
Rosberg
14th
Ricciardo
15th
Hulkenberg
16th
Senna
17th
Kovalainen
18th
Glock

The Red Bulls look like the only serious contenders for victory at Suzuka this year. Vettel was almost a second quicker than the 3rd place man and Webber was not far behind at 0.7 of a second faster than Button. The Red Bull’s also showed strong race pace during the practise sessions and the nearest driver in a McLaren or a Ferrari is a further four places behind Webber. It is very difficult to see how Alonso, Button or Hamilton could challenge for victory. The biggest danger the Red Bulls face is the temperamental nature of both Sauber and Lotus. They show much more variation than most teams, with some tracks that the car seems perfect on and other it simply struggles on. If either team finds that Japan is one of their preferred circuits then either could pull off a surprise victory. However, with passing so difficult at Suzuka should also the Red Bulls to fend off Lotus and Sauber if either has superior pace although they are certainly worth watching for live betting.

Vettel is the firm favourite of the Red Bulls at 53/100 (1.53) from Blue Square whilst Webber has odds of 13/2 (7.50) from Betfair. Whilst Vettel is rightly the favourite, Webber should not be completely ruled out. Vettel seems prone to mechanical failure so Webber is a good back up bet. Also, high tire degradation could leave opportunities open for Webber if Vettel misjudges when to come in and of course Webber could challenge on his own merits. Spreading bets on race winner across both Vettel and Webber is wise. If betting £10, place £8 on Vettel to win £12.24 and £2 on Webber to win £15 whilst losing £10 if anyone else wins.

Both Vettel and Webber are likely to take the podium but with so many other strong cars behind them deciding who takes 3rd place is difficult and so betting on podium finishes is probably bet avoided. Top six finishes are a more interesting bet. Three of the cars in the top six all have usually high odds, with Kobayashi at59/50 (2.18) from Betfair, Grosjean at 63/100 (1.63) from Bet 365 and Perez at 4/5 (1.80) from SkyBet. These odds are usually low since Alonso, Raikkonen, Button and Hamilton are directly behind them. However, of those four drivers only Button is out of place after the grid penalty, the others genuinely seemed to lack race pace. Starting in 3rd Kobayashi seems an excellent bet, Perez not a bad one but the crash prone Grosjean needs higher odds to be worthwhile.

Odds above accurate at Sunday 07th, 01.15 GMT. Click to see live odds.

Image © Ryosuke Yagi

Thursday, 11 October 2012

Japanese Pre-Weekend Analysis

The 15th Race of 2012, Japanese Grand Prix at Suzuka.

Previous Winners
2011
Button
2010
Vettel
2009
Vettel
2008
Alonso
2007
Hamilton
2006
Alonso
2005
Raikkonen
2004
Schumacher
2003
Barrichello
2002
Schumacher
Hamilton is still the favorite for Japan despite Vettel's win in Singapore. With four pole positions in four races for McLaren, they would have almost certainly had four wins also were it not for Hamilton's gearbox. He kept an steady gap to Vettel throughout the race and the safety car would have prevented Vettel's extremely slim chance of jumping Hamilton in the second round of pitstops. Victory is by no means guaranteed for Hamilton but he currently looks almost as strong as Vettel did in 2011.

Suzuka has seen many victories from pole, however, unlike many circuits victories has often come from much further down the field. On this basis betting on someone who qualifies outside the top three could yield a substantial profit. It does not seem likely that anyone could start lower down the field and also beat Hamilton but podiums will certainly be possible for low qualifiers. Raikkonen especially should be watched closely given his poor qualifying but excellent race pace.

Button could be an interesting wild card. Considerably weaker at qualifying than Hamilton he usually will have difficulty beating his team mate. However, with Japan having so much opportunity for weaker qualifiers this could be one of his better opportunity to take victory. There is, however, a concern that he will move over and give Hamiliton victory if Button is first and Hamilton second.

Odds above accurate at Friday 6th of October, 01.02 GMT. Click to see live odds.

Grid position of race winner since 2008
Grid Position
Number of times
1st
6
2nd
1
5th
1
17th
1
Image © nhayashida

The dynamics of the championship has suddenly finally settled down as the championship goes into the final quarter of races. Prior to Korea Hamilton looked like Alonso’s greatest challenger and even only two races ago in Italy Raikkonen was a reasonable outsider bet. However, two factors have changed everything. Hamilton’s retirement in Singapore has probably ended his championship bid whilst Alonso’s retirement in Japan has vastly narrowed his lead. Meanwhile, Alonso always looked like the 2012 champion as long as race victories were spread between all his main competitors. However, Vettel’s victories in Singapore and Japan have made this a two horse race, between Vettel at 31/50 (1.62) from SkyBet for the championship and Alonso at 81/50 (2.62) from Bet 365 .

Vettel certainly currently looks like the most likely to take the championship. He has had an excellent run of races since the Summer break. He was in 12th position after the 2nd lap of Belgium yet finished 2nd. He was 4th at Italy – probably the worst track for the Red Bull - until taking the penalty for forcing Alonso off the track, working he way back to 6th until the retirement from mechanical error. Hamilton’s retirement at Singapore gave Vettel a lucky victory but ignoring that he’d easily have finished 2nd. Finally, his victory at Japan looked like an emulation of 2011 performance. Alonso’s current performance is more difficult to judge, having been taken out on the first lap at Belgium and Japan. He had an excellent race in Italy, finishing 3rd from starting 10th and his 3rd place finish in Korea was respectable. There’s no denying that Alonso is currently extremely competitive but Vettel has generally looked stronger since the summer break.

Looking back at 2010 and 2011, Vettel was far stronger at the forthcoming circuits this season. He retired from 1st in Korea in 2010 and won in 2011. He won India in 2011 (there was no 2010 race in India). He won Abu Dhabi in 2010 and retired from 1st in 2011. Finally he won Brazil in 2010 and was 1st until a mechanical failure in 2011. This means that of remaining races this year (obviously except America), Vettel would have probably won every single one in both 2010 and 2011 except for mechanical error. By contrast, Alonso only managed four podiums in those seven races and only one victory after Vettel’s retirement in Korea in 2010. Vettel very clearly holds the upper hand based on previous years.

The only hope for any other driver would be both Vettel and Alonso suffering at least one retirement in the remaining five races. Hamilton has odds of 20/1c(21.00) from Betfair and Raikkonen has odds of 40/1 (41.00) from Paddy Power . Hamilton is probably the better bet despite lower odds since he arguably still has the fastest car although only moderately so compared to the Red Bull. However, assuming that Hamilton wins the next race and both Vettel and Alonso failed to score he’d still be 13 points behind them with only four races remaining. This makes him truly an outsider bet. Raikkonen is five points ahead of Hamilton but with so few races remaining he could not narrow the gap on consistency alone, he would have to have race victories but has yet to win this season. He cannot be recommended for a bet.

Despite the lowest odds, Vettel is the only recommended bet. Given his dominance at the remaining courses in previous years and strong results in recent races there’s a high chance he will still take the title even if he has another retirement in the remaining races. Perhaps the most likely route to victory for Alonso would be to have Vettel retire once more whilst Hamilton takes most the remaining victories, meaning Vettel would be unable to score decent points to make up the deficit. Whilst it is not impossible for Alonso to win his odds are too low to be value for money.

Odds above accurate at October 11th, 14:23 GMT. Click to see live odds.

Sunday, 23 September 2012

Singapore Pre Race Analysis

4th Pole Position for McLaren in a row
Qualifying Results
Starting Position
1st
Hamilton
2nd
Maldonado
3rd
Vettel
4th
Button
5th
Alonso
6th
di Resta
6th
Webber
8th
Grosjean
9th
Schumacher
10th
Rosberg
11th
Hulkenberg
12th
Raikkonen
13th
Massa
14th
Perez
15th
Ricciardo
16th
Vergne
17th
Senna
18th
Kobayashi

Despite Vettel looking stronger throughout the practise sessions once again a McLaren has qualified on pole. The previous three races this season saw McLaren win from pole and the previous three races at Singapore saw the pole sitter take victory. On this basis Hamilton is the clear favourite and his odds of 67/100 (1.67) from SkyBet. Little money can be made on Hamilton but there will much loss if anyone else wins. There are far higher odds found a few places down and spreading your money around is wise. Place £10 on Hamilton, £5 on Vettel at 19/5 (4.80) from Betfair and £1 on Maldonado at 16/1 (17.00) from Bet 365 and you'd make break even if Hamilton wins, make £14 if Vettel wins and £7 if Maldonado wins, though lose £16 if none win. The main danger with this plan is the first corner and how Maldonado handles it. On this basis there's actually substantially more uncertainty to Singapore this year on a circuit that is normally fairly predictable.

Maldonado is probably a good bet for a podium at 11/4 (3.75) from Bet 365 given how difficult overtaking is at Singapore. Raikkonen is also a wild card for a podium at 9/1 (10.00) from Bet 365. Although down in 12th, Raikkonen can choose to run the harder tire and go on a long first stint or even stop one less time. With the pitlane being the longest of the season at Singapore he could make many places up on the first round of pit stops. Finally, Grosjean to finish top 6 when starting in 8th at 109/50 (3.18) from Betfair is very good value.

Odds above accurate at Sunday 23rd, 11.15 GMT. Click to see live odds.

Image © TimoStudios

Sunday, 23 September 2012

Singapore Pre Qualifying Analysis

Vettel back on the pace at the Marina Bay

Free Practice Results
        FP1
FP2
1st
Vettel
Vettel
2nd
Hamilton
Button
3rd
Button
Alonso
4th
Alonso
Webber
5th
Maldonado
Hamilton
6th
Webber
di Resta
7th
Hulkenberg
Hulkenberg
8th
di Resta
di Resta
9th
Ricciardo< >
Massa< >
10th
Perez
Grosjean
11th
Senna
Schumacher
12th
Raikkonen
Raikkonen
13th
Kobayashi
Maldonado
14th
Schumacher
Ricciardo
15th
Grosjean
Perez
16th
Massa
Kobayashi
17th
Vergne
Senna
18th
Rosberg
Vergne
Vettel is quickest in both free practice sessions which is crucial since Singapore is almost always won from pole. Despite this, Hamilton has higher odds for victory of 2/1 (3.00) from Blue Square to Vettel's of (4.50) from Paddy Power. Vettel is defiantly better value for money. Alonso and Button also set competitive times but their odds of (6.70) and (8.40) respectively from Betfair cannot be recommended compaired to Vettel.

As with other courses that usually won from pole it is recommended to skip betting on qualifying. Take advantage of the higher odds for victory by placing a bet on whoever you think will take pole to win the race.

Odds above accurate at Saturday 22nd, 03.48 GMT. Click to see live odds.

Image © Shiny Things

Sunday, 23 September 2012

Singapore Pre Weekend Analysis

The 14th Race of 2012, Singapore Grand Prix at the Marina Bay Street Circuit.

Previous Winners
2011
Vettel
2010
Alonso
2009
Hamilton
2008
Vettel
The situation going into Singapore is quite different to the previous bout of races. The story since Valencia has been Alonso sitting comfortably ahead and only the Red Bulls looked likely to catch him. However, with McLaren winning the last three races and Raikkonen continuing his run of high finishes it looks like Alonso has new challengers.

Pole position has yielded victory on three of the four occasions at Singapore, the only exception Alonso's controversial win in 2007. Hamilton and Vettel are usually the two jousting for pole but Hamilton has substantially mastered Vettel in recent qualifying sessions. Over the last four qualifying sessions, Hamilton has come 1st, 8th, 1st and 8th compared to Vettel's 6th, 11th, 4th and 2nd. Hamilton is rightly favourite to win with odds of 12/5 (3.40) from Paddy Power. These odds are not bad but waiting on the free practice sessions is advised. The bookies think his main competitor is Alonso with odds of 5/1 (6.00) from Blue Square but this seems overrated. Whilst Alonso had a brilliant race in Italy, Monza is a track which the Ferrari suited well. Although Alonso usually does well at Singapore these odds are too low with so many competitors.

Grid position of race winner since 2008
Grid Position
Number of times
1st
3
15th
1
After such resent difficulties the Red Bulls are probably being undervalued. Vettel has perhaps his lowest odds this season for a race win at 3/2 (2.50) fromBet 365. Given that he had an excellent race at Spa whilst Monza is probably the worst track for the Red Bulls this is not bad value for money. Also, both Red Bulls have made the podium in the last two races here, meaning 3/2 (2.50) for Vettel from Paddy Power and 16/5 (4.20) from Betfair for Webber to finish top 3 seem good value for money. Meanwhile, Perez is usually a good bet for a podium finish but after his stunning race at Monza 7/1 (8.00) from Bet365 seems too low, especially since he not yet taken a podium at a street circuit.

Odds above accurate at Thursday 20th, 23.02 GMT. Click to see live odds.

Image © yellowhandman

Sunday, 9 September 2012

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

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