F1Punter

Formula 1: Against The Odds

Hamilton to take Pole in France

with 4 comments

Although the times may not exactly be desperate for Lewis Hamilton, his grid-penalty for Magny-Cours means that he will have to call on some reasonably unorthodox measures, to take anything worthwhile from the coming weekend.

My expectation is that this will manifest itself in a bold decision on race strategy, and I think we can take advantage at odds of around 5/2 in the Qualifying market.

Although second-guessing strategy is a bit of a black-art at the best of times, I think there are some pointers which suggest that Hamilton will be short-fuelled on Saturday, and therefore be equipped to land his car on Pole. Here’s the theory:

The only thing we know for certain at this stage is that Lewis will drop back ten-places on the grid after Qualification. Usually, this would lead a team to fill the car full of juice, and run the longest possible first stint. Given that Magny-Cours is traditionally a two-stop venue, this would seem a perfectly reasonable strategy, and would almost certainly suggest that Lewis is a Lay at current odds for Pole position.

However, starting down in 14th or 15th place would put Lewis right in the danger-zone in terms of getting through Grande Courbe unscathed at the start, and even if he did, there’s a strong likelihood that he would be mired behind slower yet lighter cars for any amount of laps, before his extra fuel gave him any kind of advantage.

The alternate scenario is the one I think (hope) might be adopted, and puts Lewis onto a three-stopper, with a minimum amount of fuel in the car at the start.

This approach would (potentially) allow him to put the McLaren on Pole, place him 11th on the grid, and give him an opportunity to jump a few heavier cars at the start. It’s possible that such a strategy could get Lewis as high as 6th or 7th after the first few laps, and in a place where he isn’t losing too much time to the front-runners. Extrapolate this further into the race, and he is almost certain to get a window running in clear-air, as he will be out of synch with the rest of the field. And in clear-air, there is no doubt (in my opinion at least) that he can make up sufficient time to get himself deep into the Points.

I think the proposed strategy would work for two reasons:

Firstly, the Magny-Cours pit-lane is very short, and the penalty for an extra stop is significantly less than is incurred at any other track.

Secondly, let’s look back to Istanbul a few weeks ago, where concerns about Hamilton’s tyre-wear meant he was forced onto a completely unorthodox three-stop strategy. OK, he started much further up the grid that day, but still managed to split the Ferrari’s to finish second, showing that he was both adaptable and super-quick with a clear track.

With these factors in mind, I think there is a reasonable likelihood that McLaren will put Lewis onto a 3-stop strategy. If they do, then Pole is his for the taking.

I’m not suggesting that Hamilton can win the French Grand Prix – far from it, as I think it will be a lock for Kimi – but I do think that the team have sufficient faith in him, to do something ‘irregular’ on the back of this penalty, at a track where the punishment for an extra-stop isn’t as severe as it might be.

Hopefully the McLaren race-team will be thinking along similar lines, and we can nick some money in the Qualifying market at odds around 5/2.

It’s probably worth pointing out that Betfair settle their Pole Position market before any penalties are applied, and this theorising obviously only applies under such Rules.

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Written by Grasshopper

June 16, 2008 at 1:28 pm

4 Responses

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  1. I was thinking Mclaren would want to go for a heavier fuel load because of Alonso’s poor showing last year (starting 10th on 16 laps of fuel). Having just read a comment from Lewis along the lines of ‘the pit lanes short here so it gives us possibilities’ you may be right and they could go light.

    The major concern here though is last year Lewis adopted a very low fuel load (turned to a 3 stopper in race) and still qualified 3rd behind two heavier Ferrari’s. McLaren look quicker this year but all it takes is one Ferrari and a BMW to have low-ish fuel and he could be 13th at best. It’s really tough one to call.

    John

    June 16, 2008 at 5:43 pm

  2. Sorry, make that 2nd behind one heavier Ferrari! Whoops.

    John

    June 16, 2008 at 6:06 pm

  3. Hi John – thanks for taking the trouble to reply.

    To be fair, you point out the flaws in my argument nicely, though it’s equally fair to say that the Macca has looked a lot closer to the Ferrari on overall pace at the fast tracks, than it did last year, so it might not pay to draw too many assumptions from last years race.

    Regardless, the strategy call is marginal enough, and recommending the bet at 5/2 was probably not a master-stroke. I’ve been dipping in again at up to 4.4, but even that looks a little thin, following Massa’s performance in P1 this morning.

    It might well be that the Ferrari’s are simply going to blitz the McLaren’s on pace here, and that even a lower-fuel strategy for Q3 might not be enough. I’ve not exactly written the bets off, but I’m going to need lots to fall into place to collect, I reckon.

    Massa’s performance hasn’t exactly bolstered my confidence in my Raikkonen Win bets either. Hopefully Kimi can show his class in P2 this afternoon, and help me breath a little easier.

    Good luck with your selections this weekend.

    Cheers
    Grasshopper

    Grasshopper

    June 20, 2008 at 11:22 am

  4. This is something I’ve been scratching my head over all week. I’m still not decided on what the best option for Lewis would be – it could be that 4.4 are great odds if Lewis does go light so don’t be to hard on yourself! You are right about McLarens pace as well, they look quicker than I expected them to be. I was thinking maybe BMW would be quicker than them but it looks like a fight between Ferrari and McLaren now.

    John

    June 21, 2008 at 8:55 am


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