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Formula 1: Against The Odds

Istanbulls

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At the risk of following them over a cliff (in which case I would need wings), I’m having another dash at the Red Bulls this weekend.

With the benefit of hindsight, the car seems to be much better suited to circuits where the tempo is quick (Malaysia, China, Bahrain) and where the corners are of a much faster variety than they encountered in Monte Carlo. This weekend in Turkey, they get just such a circuit.

Perhaps the most important aspect of the RB5 package for Istanbul is that they run their double-deck diffuser for the first time on a traditional race-track. These devices have given every team that has run them a distinct advantage (between two and five tenths, depending on the outfit) and it’s hard to believe that a genius like Adrian Newey won’t be able to conjure additional pace out of the car, now that it gets a run-out on a track which should suit the characteristics of the car well.

Couple this with the fact that the Red Bull was quick here last year (all things being relative – it was still well off the pace of the Ferrari) and I’m inclined to side with my old pal Mark Webber at the weekend. The Aussie continues to be available at odds which are not, in my opinion, a true reflection of his chance and the Tote again go out on a limb at 20/1. I think that price should be taken – though only in order to get a marker down – as I have a crack-pot theory that we may get an even bigger price after Practice 1.

Last year, the RBR’s were nowhere in the first free practice session on the Friday, with Webber and Coulthard finishing sixteenth and seventeenth respectively. Coulthard then went fourth in P2, with Webber still nowhere (nineteenth), however, Webber topped the timesheets on the Saturday morning.

With the new diffuser still essentially untried, I can envisage a situation where P1/P2 are used primarily as test sessions for the part, rather than an opportunity to blast in some quick lap times, and it’s possible that neither car will consequently figure highly on the Friday lap-charts. I’d then be looking to go in hard as soon as Webber (and Vettel) pushed out in price. I might also have a look at the P2 odds to see if there is any larceny to be had after first practice, just in case.

I genuinely believe that an RBR with a fully functioning split-diffuser is well capable of serving it up to the Brawns and I’m investing my faith in Adrian Newey, and the lantern-jawed Aussie (who has been making confident noises over the last couple of days). After qualifying sixth and finishing seventh in a moderate car last year, Webber clearly drives the circuit well and it’s fingers crossed that he breaks his duck this weekend. I’ve consequently (and perhaps suicidally) laid Button at 6/4 as well.

If Massa had been available at a more realistic price for the Podium, I would probably have backed him, but I don’t believe that the Ferrari is quite the second-best car on the grid just yet: and much as he is great around here, I’ve felt compelled to lay him at a shade over 11/10 to get into the first three. I’d also be quite keen to lay Alonso in the Points at odds-on (1.9 chance at present), but will wait until there’s a bit more volume in the market before having a proper look.

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