F1 / Review / Review 2008 F1 Season Races 7 12

Review: 2008 F1 season — races 7-12

Read our review of the middle-third of the 2008 Formula One season where Robert Kubica enjoyed a strong showing. In fact our longest priced winner this year was to back Kubica to win in Montreal, which paid 11.5.

Lewis Hamilton wins at Silverstone

Race 7: Canada

"There's every chance that this race could be even more incident packed than two weeks ago at Monaco and Lewis Hamilton was quick to acknowledge post-qualifying that the safety car is highly likely to be a key component and therefore a potential spoiler for any race strategy.

"One of our strategies would be to lay Hamilton at 1.63 because rain is forecast and that increases the likelihood of safety cars, and previous race winners don't have a great record here nor do defending champions.

"We think the winner will come from the top three starters and as winning sequences dominated by two constructors have come to an end in safety car affected races, we'll take a chance on Robert Kubica. We'd rather side with him at 11.5 than Raikkonen at 4.8 as Ferrari don't have a great conversion rate when starting as third fastest.

"Another strategy to consider is based on those drivers starting outside the top 10 who have scored a point in at least one of their previous three races. 21 such starters in the last five Canadian Grand Prix have all either finished in the points or retired, and both positions can be backed at odds-against.

"The applicable drivers this year are Nakajima, Trulli, Button and Vettel and they are 3.5, 3.65, 5.6 and 5.2 respectively for a points finish (Betfair) and 2.5, 2.75, 2.5 and 2.1 for a retirement (Sportingbet). Taking this position on all four to a small stake, laying Hamilton and backing Kubica to a lesser degree are our choices for this Sunday."

Result: R Kubica 1st, J Trulli 6th, S Vettel 8th, J Button 11th, K Nakajima and L Hamilton retired.

Race 8: France

"This is a pretty easy race to read, unless the thunderstorms which are forecast arrive and in which case it could be a bit of a lottery. Regardless of weather conditions, it has to be a Ferrari weekend and our query about Raikkonen and his odds of 1.58 centres on that Magny-Cours winner profile which highlights the necessity for strong recent race performances which is a tick against the Finn.

"Felipe Massa has a strong value consideration in his favour which is that the second fastest at Magny-Cours has often out-performed the fastest but against him is a low strike rate unless on pole and no clear evidence that he can beat a faster qualifying team-mate.

"Massa, though, is right in the championship hunt following recent races and probably should have claimed pole. Safety cars may well play a role, and Monaco and Canada showed how destructive they can be, so we'd just give it to Massa at odds of 4.2 but without our fullest confidence.

"Normally, we like to look further down the field for a points scorer from outside the top-10 and Hamilton and Heidfeld are obvious candidates but with Magny-Cours having the worst record for scoring points from such a starting position, we'll steer clear this weekend. Coulthard should struggle to score points and we'd look to lay him at around 2.6 for a points finish."

Result: F Kubica 1st, K Raikkonen 2nd, D Coulthard 9th.

Race 9: Great Britain

"The predominant forecast for the race is for heavy showers and that, together with an unusual front row, makes for a fascinating race. We can't see Mark Webber winning because apart from his light fuel load, few drivers have succeeded from second on the grid having had only one such previous experience.

"Kovalainen is in a strong position but maiden pole starters have a low conversion rate (5/21) although it has improved in recent seasons and Hamilton and Massa managed to convert when neither had won previously.

"Our concern with Kovalainen is that we believe he's fuelled lighter than either Raikkonen or Hamilton and third fastest Kimi Raikkonen starts from a position that in the past ten years has bought almost as much success as the driver starting from second. Against Lewis Hamilton is the fact that few from fourth place on the gird have won at Silverstone and only one McLaren driver has done it in 21 races over the past five years.

"We see this as a battle between the Finns, Kovalainen and Raikkonen and we'd give it to the reigning champion not just because he's the longer priced at 3.5 compared to 2.98 for Kovalainen, but because this has been a better track for Ferrari in recent years.

"Furthermore, Raikkonen did it from third last year when a McLaren started on pole and Kovalainen lacks that previous winners stat at Silverstone of having been on the podium in one of the recent races. Our caveat is that Raikkonen's race will be compromised if he can't get past Webber early and rain can always affect the best laid plans. Raikkonen is our choice but it may be prudent cover the stake with a saver on Kovalainen.

"Elsewhere, we'd rather be a layer than a backer and laying Kubica for a points finish at 1.5 doesn't have a lot of downside based on his record when starting as he does this weekend. But if you only want to lay just one, we'd concentrate on Nelson Piquet, if he can be laid at around evens, because of the poor points scoring record of first season drivers in the wet."

Result: L Hamilton 1st, K Raikkonen 4th, H Kovalainen 5th, R Kubica and N Piquet retired.

Race 10: Germany

"This should be a straight fight between Lewis Hamilton (1.91) and Felipe Massa (4). If the race stays dry, we'd look long and hard at Massa because the Ferrari is better equipped to cope with tyre conditions and this is a track where you need to protect your tyres.

"Hamilton has a great record from pole and with 13 of the 15 Hockenheim fastest qualifiers winning when finishing, we think there is some value in the Hamilton price with Betfair but not if it gets much shorter.

"McLaren have yet to have both drivers on the podium and for that reason we think Kovalainen is too short at evens for a top three finish especially as his race form this season has failed to match his starting position. Only once has Kimi Raikkonen finished in Germany and his record of failure from the third row excludes him from our winner or podium calculations.

"If it rains, one of the drivers starting 11th-15th should score points but it's less clear cut who that might be. Rosberg would have been our choice but he's been too inconsistent of late and we'd want close to 5s rather than the current quote of 3s.

"Hamilton at 1.91 is our pick for this weekend, especially if rain looks likely and therefore it's probably worth taking the price now."

Result: L Hamilton 1st, N Piquet Jnr 2nd, L Massa 3rd.

Race 11: Hungary

"Like Spain earlier in the season when Kimi Raikkonen was heavily odds-on and swept to a facile win from pole, Lewis Hamilton looks set to do the same. But whilst we thought Raikkonen was value at around 1.5, we're not so interested in Hamilton at 1.41 (Betfair), only because back-to-back winners are few in Hungary as are wins for those won last time out.

"In fact, this is one of the least attractive betting races on the circuit because not a great deal happens in Hungary - only two of the last 39 drivers starting in the top three have retired here and the only thing we think can prevent a Hamilton win is mechanical failure.

"Were it too happen then Felipe Massa (7.6) and Heikki Kovalainen (12.0) would be the likely beneficiaries and Kovalainen the better value such is McLaren's apparent superiority at the track. With such a low retirement rate for others starting from the front four rows, we're scratching around for something to interest us.

"Raikkonen should struggle to make podium, so laying him at around 2.6 is one possibility but a better one is to lay Nick Heidfeld for a points finish at anything around evens. He starts from 16th and only one driver has scored points from that low down the grid in the last 10 years. Currently he's 1.7 to back and 2.9 to lay, so we'd expect those prices to come closer together.

"As all the evidence suggests that this is a track best suited to the McLaren, a market we'd consider is which driver will record the fastest lap. So far this season that's been achieved by only three drivers and whilst Kimi Raikkonen (13/8) has been responsible for six of the ten, Heikki Kovalainen has done it twice as has Nick Heidfeld. Lewis Hamilton has driven a faster lap than Kovalainen in six of 10 races but with the Finn available at 8/1 (Extrabet) and Hamilton evens, we'd have a small stake on Kovalainen."

Result: H Kovalainen 1st, T Glock 2nd, K Raikkonen 3rd, N Heidfeld finished 10th. K Raikkonen drove the fastest lap.

Race 12: European (Valencia)

"At 2.32 Felipe Massa is priced correctly for this race but the concerns we have are that in a race with an element of lottery about it, his record from pole in recent races and that of any pole starter this season isn't great. We'd expect the season performance of the fastest qualifier to improve over the rest of this season and although we prefer Massa's chances to that of Lewis Hamilton, who has yet to win from second, his price is a bit too tight for us.

"The way the track is set up, it would be no surprise to see Hamilton get away fastest and we'd take the 4.3 on offer with Betfair that the British driver leads after the first lap. Kimi Raikkonen and Ferrari may have poor stats from fourth on the grid but as we think his side of the track is favoured at the start, he may well get ahead of third fastest, Robert Kubica, which is what he needs to do to have any chance of winning.

"Raikkonen's posted the fastest lap in 7/11 races this season and we'd take him to do so again at 2.26 on a track that's likely to get faster towards the backend of the race. (Overnight grid positions were changed from one side of the track to the other which negated any advantage, Hamilton or Raikkonen may have had).

"In fact, our strategy for the race would be to back Hamilton to lead after the first lap, to take Raikkonen for fastest lap and have a small stake on the Finn to win at 7.8. Massa deserves victory having been denied in cruel fashion in Hungary but we think Raikkonen represents better value in a race sure to be influenced by safety cars. The only other interest we would have is for Nakajima to score points at 9/2 (Extrabet).

"It may be wise to reduce normal stakes for this weekend because it is a new track, there's a slight chance of rain and there's sure to be a safety car or two. But it's definitely a race worth watching."

Result: F Massa 1st, L Hamilton 2nd, R Kubica 3rd, K Raikkonen retired, K Nakajima 15th.