Saturday, 2 December 2017

2017 post-season review

All in all, the 2017 season was not a classic, but it was quite good for the most part. There was a genuine title contest until the last quarter, and a fiercely competitive midfield, behind Force India.

Up until about Singapore, the 2017 title was closely contested in a very engaging rivlary between Vettel and Hamilton. A combination of the Singapore wipeout and a sudden bout of Ferrari gremlins put paid to that, alas.

Further down, Red Bull and Force India were firmly 3rd and 4th, with Williams doing well to secure 5th and a very close battle behind them between Renault, Toro Rosso and Haas. For McLaren and Sauber, it was a year to forget. Both teams have different engines next year, McLaren ditching the Honda for Renault, and Sauber no longer having to use a year-old Ferrari (indeed, they’ll be known as Alfa-Romeo Sauber following a new title sponsorship).

The penalties situation was frankly ridiculous. We have a 20 car grid, which is a bit small, and drivers often got enormous penalties that exceeded the number of cars. At one race only two drivers started in the position in which they qualified, so jumbled up was the grid from qualifying due to penalties. I think a softer touch on reliability is the way to go. However, the season-long engine limit next time is falling from four to three, so expect more penalties rather than fewer on that count.

From a betting perspective, not a great year. My tips would’ve put you in the red, although I flukily finished slightly ahead (think it must have been some limited liquidity bets or suchlike). The last race pretty much summarised the year for me. I misjudged a potential qualifying bet, not backing it when it came off, then backed Ricciardo each way to be winner without Mercedes. That was due to come off, but the only driver to DNF due to reliability was Ricciardo. I’ve made some misjudgements but it did feel like I had more bad luck than average.

This year I deliberately collected more data, including race-by-race points tallies for teams and drivers, and finishing categories (points, pointless, DNS/DNF) for teams and drivers.

Statistical snippets:
Not one of the big three teams had a pointless finish. Every race they either scored points or didn’t start/finish.

The second most regular points scoring team was Force India (after Mercedes 39/40), with 35 points finishes.

The least reliable team was McLaren, with 18 DNFs. Renault had 14, and Toro Rosso/Red Bull had 13 each.

The team with the most pointless finishes was Sauber (27/40). Haas was second, with 19.

Only one man scored points at every race, and that was Hamilton. Next best were Bottas (19) and Vettel/Ocon (18).

Ericsson, Giovinazzi, Button, Di Resta, Gasly and Hartley all failed to score (all save Ericsson were absent from most races).

Alonso had most DNFs, with 11/20. Next worse was Sainz, with 8.

Ericsson and Wehrlein tied for most pointless finishes, with 13 apiece (Wehrlein did race on two fewer occasions, however).

Next season maybe I’ll include engine-specific stats. Could be worthwhile.

Most of the snippets above speak for themselves, but one thing that struck me was that if Red Bull had had reliability equal to Ferrari, they might have beaten them in the Constructors’. That feels quite counter-intuitive given the Hamilton-Vettel fight, but a lot of points were lost by the Red Bull’s poor reliability.

Link to 2018 thoughts (written a month ago):

Morris Dancer

Sunday, 26 November 2017

Abu Dhabi: post-race analysis 2017

Well, that wasn’t exactly a rival to Canada 2011. The race was perhaps the most tedious of the season and the only retirement due to reliability was Ricciardo (he had been running in a green position). One is not delighted. There are a few interesting snippets to discuss, though.

Off the line it was formation flying at the sharp end but Hulkenberg had a stinker, getting passed by both Force Indias. He got Ocon at the first corner (the Frenchman had nowhere to go, Hulkenberg beside him and Perez ahead) and later passed Perez off-track.

The Mexican rightly complained and the German got a slap on the wrist, a mere 5s time penalty. I rate Hulkenberg highly, but he was clearly in the wrong in this instance, and the penalty was weak.

The Mercedes were in a league of their own, Hamilton following his team mate closely but unable to effect a pass. Further back, Ricciardo was close behind Vettel, and Verstappen was close behind Raikkonen (the Red Bull looked a shade faster in race trim but is slower on the straights and it’s hard to pass at Yas Marina).

Alonso was chasing Massa to get into the tail end of the points. It was a race-long tussle but once the Spaniard managed to get ahead and stay there he pulled away with little effort.

Sainz suffered great misfortune. He was likely to get small points until his team let him go from the pits without attaching his front left tyre. Skilful driving kept him out of the tunnel wall, but he had to retire.

Hulkenberg, meanwhile, escaped the pits ahead of both Force Indias despite the penalty. When Ricciardo’s hydraulics broke and he was forced to retire, the German rose to 6th, very tasty for the Renault team in a tight battle.

In the latter stages Verstappen was very close to Raikkonen but that battle was ruined by Magnussen, once again, being a dick. He held up Verstappen idiotically, which meant Raikkonen got a couple of seconds of of ease.

For a few laps Hamilton was breathing right down Bottas’ neck but was unable to get close enough and the Finn held on for another win. The pair were miles faster than their rivals, which is a nice way for them to end the season.

An indication of the excitement of the race can be found in that the top nine on the grid (excepting Ricciardo, who retired) finished in that order.

Vettel finished the podium places with Raikkonen and Verstappen following. Hulkenberg’s 6th meant Renault passed Toro Rosso in the Constructors’, and Perez and Ocon delivered yet another double points finish for Force India. Alonso and Massa got the final points.

Another double title year for Mercedes, though Ferrari did push them close. The real difference was a small number of gremlins afflicting the Prancing Horse and Vettel’s Singapore wipeout. I hope it’s at least as close next year. With engine numbers going down to three, reliability will be even more important.

Constructors’ (from fifth):
Williams 83
Renault 57
Toro Rosso 53
Haas 47
Mclaren 30
Sauber 5

A strong result for Williams but they need Stroll to be less hit-and-miss next year. Massa’s retiring but he was the faster man and really helped to secure them a good result. Renault did well to overhaul Toro Rosso, and have a great driver lineup for 2018. Probably too soon for a title push, but 2019 onwards may be another story.

Feels like it’s been an unlucky year. Today’s Ricciardo bet failed due to bad luck, not bad judgement, but these things do happen. Anyway, we’ll have to see how 2018 goes.

One thing I’m working on currently is a new webcomic, so if you enjoy comedic daftness please do vote in the Twitter poll:

I may well do a post-season review in the coming days, replete with lovely graphs.

Morris Dancer

Saturday, 25 November 2017

Abu Dhabi: pre-race 2017

Ha. Well, it’s been that sort of year. I decide against backing Bottas and, contrary to all indications, he manages to win pole. Good for him, galling for me.

In Q1 the Toro Rossos were absolutely dreadful, with Hartley dead last and Gasly ahead only of his team mate and the Saubers (who at least have the excuse of using a year old Ferrari engine). Grosjean ended up being the fastest chap to be eliminated at this stage, which is unsurprising as the Haas has looked a bit ropey all weekend.

In the second session it was unsurprising Stroll, who had struggled in Q1, and Magnussen were eliminated, but slightly more surprising both McLarens were. Alonso was edged out by Massa, who, despite retiring, remains significantly faster than Stroll. Sainz was another slight surprise, qualifying in 12th and reporting a problem with power right at the end of the lap.

Then we had the final session. Contrary to all expectations, Bottas pulled out the fastest lap on his initial run and Hamilton was unable to match it, with the Mercedes seizing the front row. Vettel starts 3rd but was a few tenths off the pace, and has Ricciardo for company alongside him. Raikkonen and Verstappen had the third row, with Hulkenberg ahead of Perez on the fourth (if it starts like that. Perez may get a penalty for impeding Hulkenberg during qualifying). Ocon and Massa are provisionally on row five, pending the potential Perez penalty.

So, more jumbled up than I expected, and less competitive for pole too (I know Bottas surprised me and got it, but Mercedes were dominant). Glancing at the grid, the bets that spring to mind are:
Ricciardo podium
Alonso points
Perhaps safety car (lots of spins and so on so far)

Ricciardo is 2.5 for a podium. Based on the Red Bull being better in race trim than in qualifying, this could well be value.

Alonso is 1.53 for points. This doesn’t tempt. He’s probably good enough on pace but there’s also a reliability question mark.

A safety car is 1.95. That seems quite interesting.

A perusal of the markets revealed:
Ricciardo to win without Mercedes, 4.33

I like the Ricciardo to win without Mercedes market at 4.33, each way (third the odds for top 2). He’s driven well all weekend, seems more comfortable than his team mate, is perhaps faster than Vettel in race.

So, the final tip of the year, with Ladbrokes:
Ricciardo to win without Mercedes, each way, 4.33 [4.5 with boost, not a huge difference but longer’s always better].

Morris Dancer

Abu Dhabi: pre-qualifying 2017

Hartley has another 10 place grid penalty, this time for the MGU-H.

In first practice, which is a lot hotter than qualifying or the race will be so is not especially useful as a guide, Vettel was fastest, a tenth ahead of Hamilton, Verstappen following close behind. Raikkonen, Bottas and Perez were next, with Alonso, Vandoorne, Massa and Ricciardo rounding out the top 10.

In second practice, the order was reversed at the sharp end, with Hamilton two-tenths up on Vettel (but the Briton looked substantially better on long runs). Ricciardo was next, with Raikkonen and Bottas next and Verstappen sixth. Perez, Ocon, Hulkenberg and Alonso came next.

At this stage I think it’s looking nice and tight, though I think Hamilton has the advantage.

Hamilton was again fastest in third practice, three-tenths up on his team mate. Raikkonen was two-tenths off Bottas, and a hair’s breadth ahead of Vettel. Ricciardo and Verstappen were a few tenths down the road and, half a second back, Alonso and Vandoorne were fast in the McLarens. Sainz and Perez finished off the top 10.

Looks like a Hamilton pole. With a dry race and one stop probable, scope for upsets is limited but it should be tight at the sharp end. Crashing, safety cars and perhaps reliability could all be factors, but remember Hamilton has a fresher engine than everyone else which won’t hurt his prospects.

Hamilton’s odds for pole are just 1.33, which is too short to tempt even though I think he’s a strong favourite. Bottas or Raikkonen each way (third odds, top 2) at 7 and 17 respectively is a bit more appetising. I was sorely tempted by splitting one stake between backing both but decided against it (just got a feeling it’ll be Vettel up there with Hamilton).

On an utterly unrelated note, I might be redoing an old comic I wrote some years ago (drawing it rather than using graphics). It’d be very helpful if anyone reading this could vote in the Twitter poll (or just mention their preference here if you don’t have Twitter):

Qualifying and race are at the normal UK times of 1pm each so the pre-race ramble should be up this afternoon/evening.

Morris Dancer

Monday, 13 November 2017

Brazil: post-race analysis

A very eventful start, and congratulations to Mr. B on backing Vettel to lead lap 1. Annoyingly, of the bets I shortlisted the only ones that didn’t come off were the long shot and the one I actually backed (Ricciardo spun on lap 1 and could easily have crashed out... but didn’t). To make matters worse, between 3 and 4pm Betfair decided to void my bet on Hamilton not reaching the podium (which came off). My initial attempt to contact them didn’t work as the site kept timing out.

Before the race started there was some concern at Ferrari over the electronics, definitely on Raikkonen’s car and maybe Vettel’s too. Happily, this seemed not to cause a serious problem.

At the start, Vettel just about managed to get ahead of Bottas thanks to a better second phase off the line. Meanwhile, Ricciardo spun off-track and came very close to crashing out. But he didn’t. The swine.

Grosjean lost control slightly which unfortunately coincided with Ocon passing him on the outside, putting the Force India out (Grosjean was able to recover, but I think he subsequently got a rather unnecessary time penalty). Magnussen and Vandoorne also tangled with one another and failed to complete the first lap.

Contrary to my expectations, reliability thereafter was actually pretty damned good, with only Hartley going on to retire, about halfway through the race.

Anyway, first lap shenanigans brought out the safety car for several laps as the track was cleared of debris.

At the sharp end, Vettel was just eking out a lead over Bottas. Verstappen looked faster than Raikkonen but couldn’t pass.

Hamilton and Ricciardo, however, could pass, and were carving their way through the field with aplomb (admittedly, with much faster cars than almost everyone else).

An intriguing battle which got less coverage than it perhaps deserved was that Massa managed to squeak ahead of Alonso and the Spaniard was unable to pass him. This duel continued all race long and, towards the end, Perez was right behind Alonso too. The three finished nose-to-tail, Massa doing very well to keep 7th ahead of his old team mate. At his final Brazilian Grand Prix, Alonso was not faster him.

Mercedes pitted Bottas first, and though Ferrari reacted on the following lap it very nearly stole the victory. Vettel emerged barely a car’s length ahead and for a few corners Bottas, with tyres up to temperature, looked very feisty. However, once things settled Vettel soon pulled out a significant gap and was untroubled by the Finn any more.

Except for Hamilton and Ricciardo rising through the field, it was pretty much as you were. Hamilton passed Verstappen, who was struggling on his tyres, and should’ve passed Raikkonen late on. However, the Briton locked up at the critical time, and on the subsequent lap his supersofts, Raikkonen being on softs, had just lost the critical edge of performance. He was quicker but not so fast as to be able to effect a pass. Raikkonen held on for another podium.

Vettel got the victory which, apart from the pit stop, never seemed in doubt. Bottas got 2nd, with Raikkonen ensuring two Prancing Horses on the podium.

Hamilton got 4th, and whilst 3rd was possible that’s still a great result from the pit lane. Verstappen, despite a late pit stop to get fresh tyres and the fastest lap, was 5th, right ahead of his team mate.

Massa, Alonso and Perez finished 7th to 9th, with Hulkenberg getting the final point, ahead of his team mate. That will be a very interesting intra-team battle to watch next year.

I shortlisted four tips (one a long shot) and two came off. The long shot and the one I actually backed didn’t, which was a bit disheartening. And, as I mentioned, Betfair voided the 2.4 on Hamilton not to get a podium, for reasons that I have yet to ascertain. Luck’s meant to shake out over a season but it does feel like 50/50s have tended to go against me this year.

On early bets, I totally misjudged the relative pace of Red Bull, so that’s on me.

I’ll be glad when this season’s over.

Morris Dancer

Sunday, 12 November 2017

Brazil: pre-race 2017

A very interesting qualifying session. Bottas got pole, which is nice, but Raikkonen couldn’t quite make the top 2, which was a little bit displeasing given his odds were ridiculously long (22/1 at one point).

Congratulations to Mr. Sandpit, who is on Bottas at 13.5 for the win (hedgeable at just over evens right now).

In the first part of qualifying, Hamilton made a rare mistake, the rear of his car getting away from him and leading to him crashing out immediately. In less surprising news, both Saubers failed to make it out, and, yet again, Stroll also failed to progress. Gasly, who has penalties anyway, was another who exited at this stage.

In second practice Hartley, who has penalties as well, didn’t bother running, which is understandable. Both Haas drivers didn’t go any further, and nor did Vandoorne. Surprisingly, Ocon could only register the 11th fastest time (although he’ll be promoted to 10th due to Ricciardo’s penalty).

Tiny spots of rain came down in Q3 but not sufficient to make any real difference. It was very close at the sharp end between the Ferraris and Bottas. Vettel was fastest on his first run but got pipped by the Mercedes driver by less than half a tenth. Raikkonen was a couple of tenths off the pace which was a little surprising.

Although Verstappen was next up he was nearly half a second off the slower Finn, and four-tenths faster than his team mate, who will take a 10 place penalty and start 15th. Perez and Alonso were next, the Spaniard two-hundredths slower than the Mexican. If the Honda engine holds up, Alonso could be on for a good race.

Hulkenberg and Sainz came next, the German a tenth faster than his new, rather more competitive, team mate. I do wonder if their engines will last, though. Finally, (again), we have Massa, whose pace was about a second faster than his team mate.

The forecast is for it to be dry and warm. I wonder if the heat might harm the Ferraris. We also have a couple of drivers out of place, with Ricciardo 15th and Hamilton 20th or starting from the pit lane. Brazil often has carnage at the first corner, which is an interesting and tricky turn.

Just looking at the grid, my first thoughts on betting were:
Verstappen podium
Vettel win
Ricciardo top 6

Verstappen is 1.9 for a podium. Not enough given the cars ahead of him and reliability question marks over Renault (ironic, though, that he’s recently suffered least from them).

Vettel is just 2.5 to win. Entirely credible but the odds aren’t great.

Ricciardo is 1.4 for the top 6. The least tempting of them all. Whilst he may well get it he’ll have to pass Williams/Force India which may prove difficult, he’s had bad reliability recently (one of my early tips was backing him to DNF) and he starts 15th, which is a great place to get caught out by someone else’s accident off the start.

Upon perusing the markets, I found:
First lap leader, Vettel, 5 (Betfair Sportsbook)
Group Betting, Group B Winner, Alonso, 3.75 (Ladbrokes)
Ricciardo, not to be classified, 5 (Ladbrokes)
Perez, top 6, 2.2 (Ladbrokes)

#Oddsonthat market on Betfair Sportsbook
Hamilton not to get a podium 2.4
Vettel and Verstappen podium, Hamilton top 6, Force India double points, 5
Vettel win, Hulkenberg/Ocon/Perez points, under 15.5 classified finishers, 15
Sainz/Hartley/Hulkenberg to not be classified, Verstappen on the podium, 41
Ricciardo podium, Alonso/Grosjean/Vandoorne not to be classified, 101

Lots there to contemplate, although no single bet leaps out and demands to be backed.

Raikkonen has tended to go backwards rather than forwards off the line, and Vettel had a very good start in Mexico. I think it’ll be him or Bottas, but obviously that sort of bet is a bit luck of the draw. The odds are reasonably good.

Alonso’s group includes Perez, Hulkenberg and Sainz. The Renaults have had worse reliability in recent races, and Alonso typically makes up ground off the start. My concern, as well as his possibly weak reliability, is that he’ll be murdered on the straight by Perez, and the Force India’s only real weakness is the other Force India colliding with it. Tempting but can’t back it.

Ricciardo has failed to be classified in the last few races. He’s also in a nice place to be crashed into going into the challenging first corner. For that matter, Sainz and Hulkenberg at 3.5 each are also a bit tempting.

Perez starts 5th, has a car that’s very reliable and is very good at keeping tyres going. That matters here because it’s a toss up between a one and two stop race. Ricciardo and Hamilton will be in significantly faster cars but start further back. There’s also something of a reliability question mark over the Red Bulls/Renault engines as well as the three cars immediately behind him on the grid. All that said, 2.2 aren’t huge odds. But they may be good odds.

Usually, due to timing, I miss the #Oddsonthat markets so it was a nice surprise to see them up.

After checking, it turned out Hamilton was 2.4 not to get a podium, but, on the exchange, 3.3 to get one. So I backed both, of course. Unfortunately, the #Oddsonthat market instantly vanished, so this can’t count as a tip (shame as it’s a guaranteed winner).

Vettel and Verstappen both getting on the podium is credible, as is Hamilton finishing top 6 and both Force Indias scoring. However, that’s quite a few contingencies for 5, and there is a question mark over both Verstappen’s reliability and the Red Bull’s pace. It’s probable but not certain Hamilton will be top 6. Too many things to tempt at those odds.

Vettel win, Hulkenberg/Ocon/Perez points, under 15.5 classified finishers, 15. This is more tempting. On pace, there’s every chance Vettel can beat Bottas, and the three chaps in question could score, although Hulkenberg’s had shaky reliability recently. At least five retirements are required, but with engine dodginess from Honda and Renault, that’s at least plausible, if not probable. The main potential pitfall seems to be Hulkenberg. Worth considering.

Sainz/Hartley/Hulkenberg to not be classified, Verstappen on the podium, 41. Given the dubiousness of Renault engines recently, this is also quite intriguing. Verstappen getting on the podium is probably the least likely contingency. As well as reliability (and he has essentially the same engine as the chaps who need to DNF) there’s a pace question mark. On the other hand, he tends to go forward rather than backwards off the line, unlike Raikkonen, who starts 3rd and immediately ahead of him. Hmm.
Last and longest, we have Ricciardo podium, Alonso/Grosjean/Vandoorne not to be classified, 101. Tasty idea but Ricciardo’s unlikely to get on the podium, and I’d be slightly surprised if all three of those drivers failed to finish. Mind you, that’s why the odds are long. But I’m not especially tempted.

Of all the above, the most interesting are:
Vettel, lap 1 leader, 5
Ricciardo, not to be classified, 5
Perez, top 6, 2.2
Sainz/Hartley/Hulkenberg to not be classified, Verstappen on the podium, 41

Quite tricky to decide between them. I think Ricciardo not to be classified at 5 offers the best value. Those odds are available both on Ladbrokes and Betfair Sportsbook. [NB this is almost identical to the 5.25 early tip on Ricciardo not to be classified, not quite sure how I’ll resolve that in the records as yet].

The grid’s poised intriguingly and Interlagos is perhaps the best circuit on the calendar, so we should be in for a cracking race. The start is at 4pm UK time.

Morris Dancer

Saturday, 11 November 2017

Brazil: pre-qualifying 2017

Some Mercedes team members (and maybe FIA officials too, not sure) were robbed at gunpoint after leaving the circuit yesterday. There has always been some danger at Interlagos, but this is a rather troubling reminder. Nobody was hurt, though valuables were taken.

As an aside, all of Verstappen’s three wins to date have come the race after Kvyat got dropped. Odd coincidence.

Massa announced last Saturday that he was retiring, due in part to the uncertainty over his position at Williams. I like Massa a lot, he seems like a genuinely nice guy with little ego, and he came incredibly close to the 2008 title only to have it wrenched away by Hamilton’s last gasp pass on Glock. But, the sport does need new blood and Massa’s been around for quite a while. That does make it ironic that the men seemingly next in line are former drivers Kvyat, Kubica and Di Resta.

Speaking of fresh blood, Lando Norris has been named McLaren’s reserve driver for next year, replacing Jenson Button.

Two drivers who have performed extremely well in the wet (former in the very wet, latter in wet-dry conditions) are Verstappen and Hulkenberg. If the weather looks soggy, keep those two in mind.

Post from PB:
F1: for what it's worth, I've made some early bets [on the 2018 title] with small stakes.

My view is that the Renault engine is critical. If it's on song next year then Alonso at 12 each way (Ladbrokes, odds boosted [weirdly, this is also working for each way bets]) is the best value by a mile. Also backed Vandoorne at 81 each way on the basis that Australia tends to be good for McLaren and whilst he's unlikely to be on terms with Alonso, that equates to 17 to be top 3, which is possible.

I've also backed Bottas at 16 each way. If it's Mercedes versus Ferrari, or if reliability of the Renault is as poor as this year, he's almost nailed on to be top 3 at 4 (as with Vandoorne, that's fifth the odds for top 3).

The short odds on Hamilton, Vettel, Verstappen and Ricciardo do not appeal. If Hamilton wins, the Bottas bet is likely to come off at better odds. If Renault step up their game, McLaren are far better value than Red Bull.

If/when the Constructors' comes up I'll look at Red Bull, as their driver pairing is the most balanced. It'll be them or Mercedes, in my view.

In first practice Hamilton was a tenth ahead of Bottas, with the Silver Arrows almost half a second ahead of Raikkonen. Verstappen, Ricciardo and Vettel followed close behind, with Massa, Vandoorne, Ocon and Alonso rounding out the top 10.

Second practice had the same top two, but the margin was half a tenth, and from Bottas to Ricciardo was a tenth and a half. Vettel and Verstappen were not far down the road, although Raikkonen was a couple of tenths off the Dutchman. Ocon, Massa and Hulkenberg were all covered by a tenth, followed by Alonso.

At this stage, rain is forecast for qualifying but the race is expected to be dry. That could help out Red Bull, McLaren and Renault, at the expense of Williams (downforce, of course, being your friend in the wet, and power mattering less).

It’s worth noting that Ricciardo has usually been outperformed by a variety of team mates here, (second in qualifying to Vettel, Kvyat and Verstappen in the last three years). Also, Hulkenberg and Verstappen have performed astonishingly quickly in certain wet conditions.

Not clear as yet whether the race will be one or two stops. Ricciardo does have a penalty of at least 10 places for changing engine parts, yet again.

As well as the Ricciardo penalty, both Toro Rossos have similar ones. In fact, there’s a chance of the F1 equivalent of nuclear war breaking out, with Renault potentially exploring the possibility of refusing to supply engine parts to the team after Franz Tost, boss of Toro Rosso, reportedly hinted that the team was being given weaker parts to benefit the Renault F1 team. We’ll have to wait and see how that plays out.

Bottas, Hamilton, Raikkonen and Vettel were fastest in third practice, all covered by half a tenth. Looks rather good. However, Red Bull does not. Ricciardo was next up, nine-tenths off Vettel. Alonso has looked strong all weekend and was within half a tenth of the Aussie, followed by Perez, Ocon, Verstappen (who didn’t get a clean lap in but looked roughly on pace with Ricciardo) and Sainz.

Right now, Bottas and Raikkonen probably represent the best value for pole. The weather forecast has improved from rain to overcast.

I was astonished to check and find Raikkonen was 17 for pole on Betfair Sportsbook. I backed this each way (third the odds for top 2) and likewise Bottas at 4.5. Bottas was fastest in final practice and Raikkonen, though third, was just 0.04s off the pace.

Raikkonen’s also 23 (21 plus boost) for pole on Ladbrokes, but there’s no each way option. However, he is, at the time of writing, layable at 19 on Ladbrokes Exchange, so I took advantage of that to gain a little more if he wins and lose nothing if he does not. [NB this changed immediately after I wrote this, with Raikkonen falling to the still too long 13].

I really had intended to sit out qualifying but with things so close, Bottas at 4.5 and Raikkonen at 17, both each way, were too long to miss.

Qualifying starts at 4pm UK time. The pre-race article will likely be up tomorrow.

Morris Dancer