Australia, statistically it is an amazing place. On a daily basis the countries population grows by almost 1,000 people. It gains one new person every 92 seconds. That means 60 new people will be residing in Australia between lights out and flag fall of this weekend’s Melbourne Grand Prix.
No quite so amazing, but a truly noteworthy stat, is Mark Webber’s record at this race/venue. His form figures read: 5-R-R-5-R-13-R-12-9-5-4. These figures tell only part of the story as he has often been reckless verging on dangerous around this relatively smooth street circuit. I suspect there will be 62 new Australian residents by the time he completes the course as I don’t believe he will be making his first Australian GP podium.
Not everyone agrees. I recently read an online tipster’s piece which recommends a bet on the Aussie citing “his fitness levels are greater than ever due to the removal of a metal plate from his leg”. It begs the question, if I were to get my fillings removed from my head would I be a smarter person?
Additionally, said tipster also states the appointment of a new race engineer – that’s the voice a driver hears in his head when racing – will increase Mark Webber’s chances. In all other walks of life it’s generally accepted things improve when the voices actually go away isn’t it?
As it stands Sebastian Vettel is currently rated 40% probable (that’s odds of 6/4) to retain his World Driver’s Championship crown while his teammate, in identical equipment and without a metal rod in his leg, is less than five percent likely (currently 22/1).
Regardless of his shortcomings Webber remains one of Australia’s best know exports right up there with Home and Away, Men at Work, Skippy the Bush Kangaroo and the classic ‘Brewed in the UK’ tinny, Fosters.
For the slow on the uptake that’s a parody akin to Milton Keynes distancing themselves so far from the locally-based Red Bull F1 team that it’s officially described as being an Austrian outfit.
Of course we all know the reason for Red Bull being based in Milton Keynes and not Salzburg is the roundabouts. It’s no coincidence Formula 1’s best cornering car hails from a town which has more roundabouts than any city in the United Kingdom and also the biggest concentration of them: 3.82 per square-mile.
Same old same old
Traditionally the opening race of the season has featured a high attrition rate but the reliability of all F1 cars has been greatly improved in recent years and, with no major regulation changes this season, it is fair to expect 2012’s reliability, form and trends to translate directly into 2013.
That means, throughout the early season, Alonso will surely be prominent and way superior to his teammate, Massa. Vettel, who boasts 21 wins and 16 other podium finishes from his last 58 outings, will be a rightful favourite race-on-race. But Hamilton’s departure from McLaren means Button has been pushed up the pecking order of likely race winners. Conversely Hamilton takes a drop.
It is the veteran Brit, Button, who, since 2009 when given a competitive car, boasts course form figures of 1-1-6-1, who looks the best betting proposition this weekend. He’s coming off a win in Brazil and will be thriving now perched on the mantle of No.1 driver in the McLaren team.
Button’s car is traditionally very competitive early season and the McLaren team have very much been on the pace for this opening race of the year in recent times. In addition to last year’s 1-2 starting positions the team also boast 2-4 grid positions in 2011, 1-3 in 2008 and 2-4 in 2007.
It’s as much true form as you have to go on because, as a form-guide, winter testing has been as much use as a cock flavoured lollipop.
With reliability being less of a concern (three of last year’s six non-finishers here were due to collision damage) the only remaining variable is tyre wear and a potentially wet track.
Early indications suggest this season’s Pirelli tyres are going to warm-up quicker and degrade rapidly. That’s music to the ears of Button fans who know their boy may be a poor qualifier but is commonly regarded as one of the best strategist in the game and a pilot who always gets the best out of his tyres.
Ditto those thoughts for a possible wet race which is now, five days before lights out, being mooted. Button’s victory here in 2010 was a homogenised brilliant mix of wet weather driving skill and opportune tyre changes.
There is one pitfall however, that of placing your bet at the right time. Odds of 13/2 about a Button victory in Melbourne were available at the turn of the year, it’s a price that has long since vanished.
However, with Button being such a notoriously poor qualifier, there is every chance he will drift out to that kind of mark again should he miss out on front row qualification.
Timing is everything in F1 betting. Last season’s 500/1 Barcelona winner Pastor Maldonado may have delivered the biggest turn-up since Olivier Panis won in Monaco 17 years ago (at odds of 300/1) but there was no 500/1 to be dreamt about after the Venezuelan qualified for that race on pole position.
Odds compilers are fully aware that half of last season’s winners started on pole position and six others started from second on the grid. Once qualifying is complete there is rarely any value to be found in the outright winner’s market. I’m going to take the 11/2 now and go in again at bigger prices should he qualify somewhere between third and sixth and his price consequently drifts out.
Betting on outright race winners pre-qualifying will be a commonly employed policy by me this season. It is where mistakes are made by the odds compilers and the value is to be had.
Elsewhere both the Lotus and Mercedes teams have shown definite competitive pace in testing just as they did prior to last season’s curtain opener here in Melbourne when both Mercedes qualified in the top seven and Romain Grosjean claimed third on the starting grid.
As Kimi Raikkonen proved with his 20 completed races last year, the Lotus is both quick and reliable. Underlining there has been no major mechanical changes to the car in 2013 his price of 4/7 to finish in the top-six is justifiable albeit valueless. I’ll take his teammate at an understandably bigger, but far more attractive, 11/8 to do the job.
This week’s investment: 205 points
Current profit/loss: 0 points