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Formula 1: Against The Odds

Silverstone Preview

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I’m inclined to tread a little warily this weekend. My gut instinct is that McLaren will put Lewis Hamilton on a Pole strategy tomorrow in an effort get the boy wonder some good publicity, following what has been a difficult couple of weeks for him, both on and off the track.

The silver car also went well in testing last week and is generally well-suited to the high-speed nature of the circuit (notwithstanding that I still think the Ferrari will prove faster). Earlier in the week, Hamilton was available at 7/2 with Skybet, which was a reasonably generous price in my opinion. However, that disappeared quickly and current quotes of around 9/4 are just a bit on the skinny side for me.

That being the case, I’ve decided to drop my stakes and play instead in the Quali/Win market. I’ve backed Hamilton/Massa at up to 14.5 and Hamilton/Raikkonen at up to 8.2. I can’t say I’m overjoyed at these prices, but it gives me a low-risk interest in the Quali market.

As the above bets would indicate, I can’t see anything other than a Ferrari win this weekend. Initially, I had planned lumping on Raikkonen at around 6/4, but having a look back at last year’s times, I can’t write Felipe Massa out of the equation. In 2007, the Brazilian qualified in 4th – some quarter of a second behind pole-sitter Hamilton and tenth-and-a-half behind Raikkonen. However, Felipe carried 4 laps more fuel to the grid than Hamilton and 2 laps more than Raikkonen, which would have dropped him nicely on Pole after fuel-correction. That said, Kimi did make a mistake in the final corner and could probably have knocked a couple of 10ths off his time.

Massa was never at the races last year, as a technical glitch meant that he started from the pitlane, but he put in a storming drive to finish the race in 5th place. Raikkonen drove a brilliantly measured race and jumped Alonso after the 2nd stops (having fuelled a full 6 laps longer). In short, this is a track which suits both Ferrari drivers, hence the decision to dutch the pair with Hamilton. My head thinks that Raikkonen is the most likely winner, but at current Win odds, Felipe is the value at 7/2 over Kimi’s general 6/4 – though I won’t be playing in the market.

I will however be playing in the Fastest Lap market and have backed Kimi at up to 6/4. The Ice Man has landed the odds in this market in the last two races (Canada and France) and I see no reason why he can’t repeat the feat at Silverstone this weekend. He had the Fastest Lap in the race last year: a full quarter-second quicker than Massa’s best effort and 6/10ths and a second quicker than Alonso and Hamilton respectively. The Finn has been effusive this week about how much he enjoys the circuit and I think there’s an opportunity to get odds of 11/8 (Bet365) about a 4/6 chance, with plenty of 6/5 also generally available.

The one man I wanted ‘get’ this weekend was Nick Heidfeld, but my bottle has gone a little. I have laid him at 1.47 (Q3) and 1.72 (Points), but for much smaller stakes than I had originally planned.

Heidfeld has toiled in Qualification recently (and was unsighted in France during the race) and I figured there was an opportunity to take him on at the wrong price in both the above markets. Nick’s problem has been getting heat into the tyres during a Quali hot-lap, but I confess the weather forecast has put me on the back foot. Will overcast conditions exacerbate the problem, or will it level the playing field? Will the fast nature of the track exacerbate the problem, or will it reduce it? The simple fact is that I don’t know the answer to either question, hence my reticence to really take the German on.

Speaking of those of a Teutonic persuasion, Coral’s have a market on “Top German Driver” for the race on Sunday. Heidfeld is predictably an 8/11 chance, however the 6/1 quoted about Timo Glock is the price that I like. The Toyota is probably the most improved car on the grid at this point of the season and though it has been travelling a lot better in Trulli’s hands than Glock’s, there have been signs in the last couple of races that Timo is starting to up his game a little. In a five-runner race – and with a doubt about the jolly – I think that a small investment is required. The danger might come from Vettel (7/1) rather than Rosberg (11/4), as the youngest driver on the grid is sure to be buoyed by the fact that a seat has come available in the main Red Bull team for next year and his name is probably already on it. Williams appear to have fallen behind in the development race and I’d be surprised if Nico troubled the Points this weekend.

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