Overnight a thought struck me: what if Kvyat and Vandoorne’s odds were the wrong way round. This morning the group C market had been taken down by Ladbrokes. I checked the bet and, as of 7.30am (give or take) the bet remained open, at the odds I’d tipped.
The race had little passing but a lot of tension and was eminently enjoyable, as a spectator, for that reason. The bets were dire, as I’ll discuss below. One-third foolish misjudgement, two-thirds terrible luck.
Off the line it was formation flying at the sharp end. Then Verstappen cocked up and went wide, Ricciardo passed him, the Dutchman locked a brake and struck his team mate, putting the Aussie out of the race, bringing out a safety car, and (after an investigation) getting Verstappen a 10s time penalty, which he served at his pit stop.
First time there’s ever been a safety car on lap one.
Sainz had made an annoyingly good start and was ahead of Vandoorne by a couple of places.
When the safety car buggered off the Ferraris scampered into the distance, clearly faster than Mercedes and with Raikkonen sticking with Vettel very nicely.
There was only one pit stop each, almost everyone going from supersoft to soft. However, late into the first stint Vettel had steering problems (he had to steer to the left to go in a straight line). Raikkonen was catching him. After the first round of pit stops the German narrowly retained the lead over his team mate, but with the two Mercedes catching up.
Raikkonen clearly wanted to be let past (and was obviously faster). Ferrari prioritised the title over the race and kept them as they are. It was to prove a canny (or cynical, as you like) call. Meanwhile, Mercedes yielded to Hamilton’s pleas and let him past Bottas to have a crack at Raikkonen, on condition that he swapped back if he couldn’t pass the Ferrari.
But it's very hard to pass at Hungary due to the nature of the circuit (turbulent air). Hamilton was faster than bottled-up Raikkonen (in turn, faster than Vettel but forbidden to try passing him), but the Briton couldn't effect a pass.
Verstappen, in 5th, was catching Bottas at a rate of knots, but the Mercedes drivers skilfully managed to swap positions just before the line. Interesting contrast of team styles, and to note that Bottas is held in more equal esteem at Mercedes than Raikkonen at Ferrari (although the points situation is drastically different).
Vettel got the win, Raikkonen 2nd, then Bottas. Hamilton and Verstappen were 4th and 5th. Hamilton swapping back lost him 3 more points to Vettel. Alonso was 6th, a great result for McLaren who have looked strong all weekend (Vandoorne finished 10th for their first double points finish of the year).
Sainz was 7th, the rotter, Perez and Ocon 8th and 9th despite their poor qualifying. Grosjean, Di Resta and Hulkenberg all retired, Grosjean due to a cross-threaded wheel nut in his pit stop (which was itself early because of a slow puncture).
Got to say I’m pretty aggravated by the Vandoorne tip. Losing out at the start was unfortunate, but these things happen. But for Sainz not to get a penalty [for driving Alonso wide, though I haven’t seen the incident with my own eyes] when Magnussen and Verstappen did (particularly the latter, who collided with his team mate on the first lap) sticks in my craw. It was a good value bet, and it should’ve come off. Maybe it’s my own fault. I did consider backing Sainz as well. But Vandoorne should’ve won. …
The Bottas bet was a clear misjudgement. As for No Safety Car, it was the first time there’s ever been one on lap one. Another significant stroke of bad luck.
All in all, a pretty bloody horrendous race. I screwed up on Bottas (my own fault, especially given I knew it’d be a better circuit for the other top teams), but the two other bets were damned unlucky.
I did enjoy the race in sheer sporting terms and it’s set up the rest of the season (after a long break) nicely, but, from a betting perspective, almost everything that could go wrong did go wrong. These things do happen (and other days I’ve had flukes) but it’s never pleasant.
On a less grumbly note, Mr. M suggested a midfielder for fastest lap, and, whilst I disagreed with Perez, Alonso did get it. Not sure what the odds were on that but 50/1 or longer seems eminently possible. I didn’t back it myself, alas, but a clever thought nevertheless. (He also picked Ricciardo as both a DNF and first DNF. I was tempted by the former but considered it too much of a pot luck bet, but that shows what I know).
Anyway, to the title standings:
Still a three horse race. Bottas needs to close the gap or he’ll be have to become a rear gunner and abandon his title hopes. The next two races (Belgium and Italy) will suit Mercedes, especially the latter. After that is Singapore, which will be more difficult for them.
Red Bull 184
Force India 101
Toro Rosso 39
Ferrari take a chunk out of Mercedes’ lead but I think the top four are likely to finish in that order. Meanwhile, tighter in the midfield. McLaren have leapt off the bottom sport and consigned Sauber to the foot of the table.
Sometimes you win undeservedly due to good luck (once I backed Perez to be top 6 without realising his good odds were due to a penalty, and then he actually achieved it), and sometimes Satan urinates in your kettle. Today was an example of the latter, but I’ve had some good fortune in the past and there are nine races left, so hopefully there’ll be some better results ahead.
It’s four weeks until the Belgian Grand Prix.