Formula 1: Against The Odds

Kova to Collect Points

with 2 comments

Heikki Kovalainen had a poor qualifying session; of that there is little doubt. The Finnish driver went too deep into Turn 12, locked his front tyres and got a poor exit. He estimated that it cost him over six tenths of a second and resulted in him failing to progress from Q1 and securing just 17th position on Sunday’s grid.

Now everyone makes mistakes and it is fair to assume that 17th position is not a true reflection of Heikki’s likely pace. This has not prevented the bookmakers from all but writing off his chances of securing points in the race. At the start of the weekend he was odds-on to do so (best price 4/5, shorter in most places). Right now Kovalainen can be backed for a top eight finish at 4.75 (15/4) with Bwin. Does a single driver error in qualifying warrant such a shift of opinion? I believe that they have overreacted.

Kovalainen is Mr Consistent. He is the only driver to finish every race this season and has finished in the points in seven out of the last eight races. In those races he has on average qualified more than two positions ahead of teammate Giancarlo Fisichella. A repeat here would have put him in the top ten.

Now admittedly picking up nine places in a race is difficult, but Heikki has some factors that are clearly in his favour:

1. Off the line: Renault’s famed start might not be what it once was, but lining up amongst Hondas, Super Aguris and Toyotas will surely give the Finn an opportunity to pick up a few places before the first turn.

2. Overtaking: Interlagos is track where it is quite possible to pass other cars. The long drag from Juncao, up the hill and across the start/finish line gives ample opportunity to set up competitors into turn one. Equally passes in to turn three are far from unheard of.

3. Fuel: Starting outside of the top ten allows the team to choose the optimum fuel strategy for the race. Major rivals for the points such as Trulli, Rosberg and the two Red Bulls will be in some part compromised by their qualifying performance.

4. Weather: Although the forecast is good for race time, Brazil has never been shy in throwing us some inclement weather to shake up the classification. Kovalainen was third fastest in Friday’s wet session, beaten only by the two Ferraris.

5. History: Last year Jenson Button came from 14th on the grid to finish on the podium here. In 2005 Takuma Sato made up the nine places that Kovalainen will require. In 2004 Michael Schumacher made up eleven places, etc.

For Heikki Kovalainen to finish in the points he will have to drive out of his skin, but with the pressure off in terms of the constructors battle and his reputation secured after a string of good performances it is far from impossible. Betting this at 4.75 certainly looks more appealing that trying to fathom the finishing order in the battle for the World Championship.


Written by f1punter

October 20, 2007 at 11:30 pm

2 Responses

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  1. Hi, sorry to go off topic. Your site is a great read but the multi column layout makes it very hard to read. The column with the blog post is very narrow..


    October 23, 2007 at 10:26 pm

  2. Hi Roy, thanks for the feedback. I have had mixed views throughout the season about the layout, some positive, some not so.

    You will be pleased to hear that I am planning a redesign during the offseason and will likely be switching to a more conventional two-column approach.

    If there is anything you would like to see included on the site for next season, drop me an email and I will see what I can do.


    October 24, 2007 at 6:02 pm

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