This weekend sees the glamour race of the Formula 1 season, the Monaco Grand Prix. Snaking around the streets of the principality, there is no more easily recognizable circuit than this, with the tunnel section and the famous turns such as Casino and Mirabeau.
Unfortunately, this weekend will be much more about tyres and technicalities than it will be about the impossibly sharp bend of turn six or the majestic around the harbor. Since the Spanish Grand Prix the talk has been of nothing else than the ongoing problem with the degradation of the Pirelli tires, to the point where Pirelli themselves even offered to revert to last season’s compounds in an effort to stem the criticism. That was shouted down from the outset, but the increasing concern is that this is becoming more about which teams can get around the circuit rather than who has the fastest car.
It is, very definitely, a problem of Formula One’s making. They decided that they wanted more pit stops, because pit stops have the potential to be exciting. Pit stops can, indeed, be exciting. Already this season we’ve had a wheel fall from Mark Webber’s car after it was badly attached, various technical problems with the Ferrari pit crew, and even Lewis Hamilton driving into the wrong pit. But that is three or four incidents from over eighty stops per race, which means that the sport is now widely perceived to be harming itself unnecessarily. And although it has been agreed that Pirelli will introduce changed compounds for the race after this one, in Canada, this particular race, on the twisty-twosty Monaco circuit, will be run on the old compounds, which seem to be a heady mix of Wonderbread and ball-bearings.
What does this mean for your sports picks on this race? Well, the first thing is that you should avoid those cars which have heavy tyre wear issues. For all practical purposes, this means the Mercedes cars of Hamilton and Nico Rosberg. In Formula One terms, the Mercedes is an elephant in diving boots compared to the light-footed ballerinas of the Lotus and Red Bull cars and however attractive the prices of those two drivers look, they won’t be short enough.
Instead, look for those more nimble cars. There’s no real value in backing Red Bull’s Sebastian Vettel here. Most sportsbooks have him listed at 11/4, which is pretty short for a race with a number of possible winners. If you think the a Red Bull will win, then look to their other driver, Webber, who is 12/1 in most places.
Otherwise, those Lotus cars do look very attractively priced. Kimi Raikkonen has been in superb form this season and has a lot of people worried with the way that he has coaxed this car into over-performing. At 7/1 with Coral he looks a solid bet here. Teammate Romain Grosjean hasn’t set the world alight with his performances, but he does seem to have curbed his tendency to get himself into trouble and at 7/1 with Bet365 is a decent outside bet for a podium place.The favorite market for F1 races, though, is always the ‘first retirement’ one. With betting odds starting at 12/1 for any individual driver, you could go for up to 11 chances and still not lose provided that one of them comes in. With the course not favoring out and out speed, the drivers to look for in this market are those who might not be the most technically adept. This would include the likes of Esteban Guittierez (currently favorite at Ladbrokes), who have already caused one avoidable accident this year, outright rookies such as Max Chilton (14/1 at BetVictor) but also those in faster cars with a few concerns and a need to prove themselves, such as McLaren’s Sergio Perez. At 22/1 with BetVictor he looks a decent one to back in this market.