Formula 1: Against The Odds

Free Practice at Spa

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Hot on the heels of Monza, focus switches to the Belgian Grand Prix at Spa-Francochamps, everyone’s favourite F1 track. Well it would do except for the small matter of the World Motor Sport Council meeting on Thursday to decide the fate of McLaren, Ferrari and the World Championships (possibly).  However I am not going to let that distract me and instead I will look away from the big two teams in the hunt for value.

One of the things that I am looking forward to this coming weekend is seeing how the drivers cope with the revised layouts at the Bus Stop chicane and the La Source hairpin.  These parts of the circuit have undergone significant modification, hopefully in a bid to increase overtaking opportunities.

It is these changes that are the catalyst for my first bet of the week.  I recall a conversation that I had with Costanza around the time of the Spa test in early July, during which he pointed out that Robert Kubica had done a lot of strong laps for BMW Sauber while Nick Heidfeld was missing for all three days with a bad back. This he said may give the Pole an advantage when the two drivers first hit the track in Free Practice 1. Indeed Kubica clocked up 188 laps of the revised layout, posting the second fastest time on two out of the three days.

I have kept this in the back of mind ever since, but it was these driver preview quotes from autosport.com that really interested me:

Nick Heidfeld: “I am happy Spa is back on the calendar. I didn’t attend the test in July so for me the last time I was there was in 2004 and those days I was in a car which wasn’t competitive at all. It will be different this time. Although Spa isn’t too far from my home town of Mönchengladbach, I didn’t race there very often. The circuit wasn’t on the Formula Ford and Formula 3 calendar when I was racing, and I had to miss the 2005 Formula One race after I injured myself in a bicycle accident.”

Robert Kubica: “It will be very nice to race in Spa in Formula One for the first time, although I have raced in Formula 3 and Formula Renault. We had quite a good test there, but the weather, as always in Spa, will probably be unpredictable, so we have to see how things develop.”

Now Nick Heidfeld is an experienced driver and come the sessions that count I have no doubt that he will be fully dialled in to the circuit. Regardless, there is plenty in those quotes to suggest that Kubica will be more familiar with its unique demands straight out of the box.

It is important to remember that Sunday will just be Robert Kubica’s nineteenth Grand Prix start and that he is still familiarising himself with the job of being an F1 driver.  However, over the course of the last six race weekends the two BMW drivers have outpaced each other in Free Practice 1 three times apiece.  This strong performance from the youngster may be attributed in part to his return to more familiar circuits that he encountered at the end of last season.

Bwin as usual have their prices out early and pleasingly they make Robert Kubica the 6/5 outsider against his teammate to set the fastest time in Free Practice 1. That is big enough to interest me.


Written by f1punter

September 10, 2007 at 6:23 pm

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