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Spanish GP, it has to be Alonso without the Big Two

Let’s be very clear, there are no grounds to oppose either of the Mercedes cars in this weekend’s F1 Grand Prix.  The pair, driven by Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg, have finished 1-2 in the last three Grand Prix and would have doubtlessly done the same in the opening race of the season if it were not for a mechanical issue on Hamilton’s car.

So the big question is who will finish third?  Well, with a third and two fourth placed efforts this year, former World Champion Fernando Alonso actually has the best overall profile beyond the ‘big two’.

Indeed, I am opting for him in the ‘Without Mercedes’ betting market and my decision is backed by more than simple finishing form.  Vitally he is over-priced at Ladbrokes 3/1 quote.

And for why… Chief threats in the betting market is the Red Bull duo of Sebastian Vettel and Daniel Ricciardo.  Their results in 2014 reads:  4-5-4-6-3-R-Dq-Ret.  One gets the distinct impression their price is based on former glories.  The car was, after all, all-conquering, for four seasons. 

The bulk of their speed has always come from aerodynamics and so it’s quite remarkable that they have struggled so badly here for the last two years.  Spain gave Vettel his worst result last season and 2011 was not much better.  Additional salt is rubbed into the wounds with Vettel missing all of the second practice session (and most of the first) on Friday with an electrical issue. 

Alonso’s teammate, Kimi Raikkonen, has not come to grips with the new spec 1.6 litre cars in any way and is easily discounted.  It’s 14/1 and upwards any driver other than these four.


Cream Rising

With the realistic opposition easily discounted Alonso’s abilities can be highlighted…  The Spaniard rises to this occasion, his home GP after all, and his record here reads: 1-2-5-2-5-R-3-1-2-4-2.  Last season he started this race in fifth yet stood on the podium’s centre/top step after a masterful performance. 


Racing on home tarmac always sees the Spaniard display speed and performance above and beyond what is seemingly feasible.  That’s underlined by his victory at the Valencia street circuit in the 2012 European Grand Prix.  On a track where an F1 car would struggle to find room to overtake a Renault Megane, Alonso converted eleventh on the starting grid into a stunning race win. 




Spanish Grand Prix:  Fernando Alonso ‘Without the Mercedes’ 3/1 Ladbrokes.


The Braces Are Off - Australian GP Betting Preview

Australian GP Betting Preview

By Roy Brindley



Four time World Champion Sebastian Vettel, seaeking his tenth consecutive race win, is a best-priced 18/1 to win this weekend’s Australian Grand Prix.  For those of you who do not understand gambling, it means if you place a £20 bet on him, you will lose £20!


Sometimes things are so obvious we cannot see them on the en of our nose.  Or, come to that, on the end of other people’s noses.  In hindsight Michael Jackson did not drape a handkerchief over his face purely because he was wacko, but because underneath it surgeons had been manipulating his nose like kids playing with plasterscene.


Similarly, anyone notice the raft of American athletes that wore braces on their teeth during the late 80’s through to the early noughties?  Carl Lewis, Gwen Torrence, Torri Edwards, Inger Miller, Marion Jones, LeRoy Burrell, Michael Johnson and Tim Montgomery to name but a few of the Word Champions, Olympic medallists and world record holders.


In one World Championship event the entire USA Men’s 4x100 relay-team wore them and after nine Santa Monica Track Club athletes took home medals at the 1991 World Athletic Championships in Tokyo, doping experts pointedly noted the unusual fact that seven of those medal winners, Lewis most prominently, wore dental braces. Less than half of one percent of the adult population in the western world wears braces.


The all-conquering Red Bull RB7, RB8 and RB9 wore braces.  It had a secret.  Growth hormones did not see it develop crooked teeth and a protruding jaw but it had a dark stealthy quality.


Time will tell but I suspect clandestine designer Adrian Newey will one day come clean as to where that unbelievable speed was coming from.  Many believe superior aerodynamic packaging and clever use of exhaust gasses made it so fast.


If that is the case Newey must have spent the last three months looking at that all-new regulation necessitated single exhaust-pipe protruding upwards and outwards of his new RB10 car wondering, with economical use of rope, if he could hang himself from it.


To his rescue came Renault.  The engine supplier have evidently delivered a power unit so unreliable Newey’s problems look like a stroll in the Teletubbies Meadow.  I suspect the first half of the 2014 season will play out like my first viewing of the Bruce Willis film ‘The Sixth Sense’.  During the opening titles an enthusiastic friend turned to me and said:  “The first thing you need to know is he [Willis’ character] is actually dead but he doesn’t know it!”




History Repeated?

William’s and McLaren start 2014 on the back of their worst ever seasons.  Williams achieved just one top-ten finish in 2013; McLaren won no silverware for the first time since 1981.  Winter testing now suggests they had more than one eye on the season ahead, in essence preparing their own set of braces.  You have to agree the front-end of the 2014 cars are indeed very ugly.


During the last decade William’s have not helped themselves with their choice of drivers.  Mark Webber, Alexander Wurz, Kazuki Nakajima and Ruben’s Barrichello were probably cheap enough but results were doubtlessly compromised.  This year they have burdened themselves with Felipe Massa.  Let’s hope their other pilot, Valterri Bottas, is the real deal as he looks to have a competitive car to go to war with.


Similarly McLaren’s new boy, Kevin Magnussen, needs to compliment his McLaren.  If he does he will be partnering Kamui Kobayashi in the 2015 Honda McLaren.  If he doesn’t the line-up will probably be Kobayashi alongside Romain Grosjean who is Eric Boullier’s protégé.  Boulier is, of course, the new incumbent ‘good talker’ at McLaren.


Back to 2014, who truly knows what this year will bring?  ‘Double points’ for the final race of the season is certainly something of a joker in the pack. 


Is there any truth to the rumour Uncle Bernie is considering replacing Charlie Whiting with the Sochi Olympic judges who oversaw Elise Christy’s disqualification from not one or two but three speed skating races? 


Talking of Sochi, what will the new Russian and Austrian circuits throw up?  Let’s hope they will not be coma-inducing processional boreathons like we are already forced to endure in Texas and Hungary.



Australian Thirst

Winter testing involved teams trying to manage fuel, running their cars lean, ensuring they could go a race distance using under the 100 kilos of fuel the new regulations demand.  I concur it also involved a lot of flatbed vehicle retrieval testing.


For Australia fuel needs to be used at an average rate of 1.7 kilos per-lap (as the race is 58 laps) but there are no restrictions on fuel use for qualifying.  This means engines can be ‘turned up’ and swallow as much juice as they want to complete their fastest possible qualifying lap.


Consequently I find the 6/4 quote about Lewis Hamilton claiming pole position offensive.  There is simply no correlative-data to support the bookmaker’s high opinion of his, or anyone’s, car in a one-lap qualifying scenario. 


On driver form Lewis did claim four poles last season but his teammate, Rosberg, clamed three.  That alone means the price about the Brit securing pole position is folly.  


25/1 about Alonso looks way too big in the qualifying market.  His Ferrari may well transpire to be a lot quicker in qualifying trim than when in fuel conservation mode.


As for the race itself, when the bookmaker’s open their shutters I’d throw a party if finding odds of 1/2 about a Safety Car being deployed.  Throw in odds of 6/4 about 14 or less finishers and I’d make it a free bar.  I can envisage half of the field ultimately being in the DNF bracket. 


With William’s showing reliability and enough speed to set the fastest time in Bahrain, 16/1 about Bottas looks like value.  The trouble is, Button appears over-priced at 12/1 as does other Mercedes-powered drivers Hulkenberg and Perez at 40/1 and 50/1 respectively. 


Naturally a Mercedes car looks like the most likely winner of this curtain raiser but combined odds of even-money about one of them prevailing makes it a diabolical investment. 


© Roy Brindley 2014



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