Dramatic though it may have been, the British Grand Prix was rubbish for punters as catastrophic tyre failures made a lottery of the race for everyone. The drivers are rightly up in arms about it and the constructors are none too happy; but the people who are really looking out are those actually watching the sport and -in our case- trying to make some money on the side doing so. Let's review what this weekend's contest has in store for our racing picks.
It has been mentioned here before, but whoever decided that pit stops were the best part of Formula One racing needs to have their head examined. Creating tyres that are made to fall apart so that drivers have to use the pits was always a recipe for disaster and it was only chance that saved Ferrari’s Fernando Alonso from serious injury when the rear wheel of Jean-Eric Vergne’s Toro Rosso exploded as he passed it. But it is also important that the spectators can have some certainty that the best cars will be competing at the end, and that didn’t happen on Sunday. For example, in seven previous years the safety car had been out just once at Silverstone. Betting the ‘No Safety Car’ option was the only viable thing to do. To have it then come out not once but twice in one race, not because of bad weather or driver error, but because bits of rubber were bouncing all over the track, was both farcical and unfair.
Changes will, of course, come. Tyre manufacturer Pirelli has been given permission to test new tyres, but that won’t happen before this weekend’s race. This makes it a difficult race to call, because although the Nurburgring is much kinder on tyres than Silverstone is, no-one expected Silverstone to be as hard as it was on them. Anything could happen and therefore you have to bet conservatively on this one.
Loathe as I always am to pick favorites, I think this is one race where you have to side with Sebastian Vettel. Until he retired with gearbox failure last weekend he had been the most consistent of the drivers, finishing in the top four in every race. Here, the German will race in front of his own fans, at a circuit which will suit the Red Bull car. William Hill will give you 2/1 on him, which looks a very good price indeed.
You’re going to be safe playing in the pole position market, because there’s a limit to how much damage you can do to your tyres in that time. You’ll get Vettel at a decent price here, too, around 11/4 in most places. The hot favorites, though, are the Mercedes’ of Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg, who have consistently gone well in qualifying throughout the season and who you’ll find at 7/4 and 9/4 respectively.
I say every race, that you should have a look at the market for the first driver to retire. Picking the first one is tricky, but you can spread your money across several cars as the odds are good. One other thing to factor in here, though, is that Giudo van der Garde has been favorite in this market just about every race and it has never actually been him!
Finally, we can now start looking to the end of the season. As expected, Mark Webber announced that he is going to leave Red Bull and Formula One at the end of the season and there is much speculation about who will be Vettel’s partner there in 2014. The expectation is that the new man will be one of the two Toro Rosso drivers, given that it was set up to be the feeder team for the main Red Bull team. Betting odds for both Vergne and Daniel Ricciardo are at 6/1 with SkyBet, so you could back them both and make a profit. Red Bull themselves have already ruled out Force India’s Paul di Resta, so even though he is 20/1 you can ignore him. Vettel himself is unlikely to want a driver of equal standing to him again, which rules out Kimi Raikkonen or Jenson Button (and 888.com will give you 1/2 on it not being Raikkonen). Your best outside bet, therefore, might be Button’s McLaren teammate Valtteri Bottas, who has showed a lot of potential in an uncompetitive car this year. You can get up to 80/1 on him, for your sports picks.