Wednesday, 24 October 2018

Mexican GP Betting Preview - Interesting times

Life for the F1 gambler has just got a whole lot more interesting. For however many rounds we've sought to make hay from what, at the top level, was expected with reason to be a Lewis Hamilton demonstration run.

Can Ferrari continue its Austin renaissance in Mexico?
By ProtoplasmaKid [CC BY-SA 4.0  (https://creative
commons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0)],
from Wikimedia Commons
Now we exist in the wake of the Austin visit last weekend, wherein the kaleidoscope was shaken. There Ferrari rediscovered the pace that it mislaid sometime in early September. Plus for the first time since before then imperious Mercedes had a messy time of it, with a dud strategy call, tyre blistering, water pump reliability problems and revising its wheels rims in fear of a protest. Hamilton hinted at problems over and above even these.

Then there's where we are this weekend coming. This Autódromo Hermanos Rodríguez circuit in Mexico City is far from a standard case. Ferrari was likely the fastest car here last year and should have won. The Mercedes meanwhile doesn't appear to much like the place; the silver pair qualified four tenths off Sebastian Vettel on pole 12 months ago and in the race Valtteri Bottas - who unlike Hamilton wasn't delayed - finished almost 20 seconds behind the cruising victor Max Verstappen.

Which brings us neatly to our next point. There will likely be three teams to consider at the sharp end this time as Red Bull has also long identified Mexico as one of its best chances for victory. It's a consequence of the altitude - at 2,250m it's the highest on the calendar - and the thin air means F1's chief discriminator of downforce is harder to put into effect and all teams feel free to run maximum wing with the low drag. Plus Red Bull seems able to find grip that no one else can.

And it's all reflected in the odds as for once Hamilton is not favourite for pole and win; that honour instead goes to Vettel - whose odds are 15/2 to get pole and 7/4 for victory on Sunday. The main fly in the Vettel ointment is that he's made several mistakes recently - so a lot will depend on whether he can manage a trouble-free weekend.

With this there are juicy alternative odds for the race win - Verstappen can be backed at 5/1 to triumph, which looks very generous particularly given his recent form, and how about a whole 10/1 on Kimi Raikkonen winning two in a row? He appears de-mob happy in his driving lately. You can also back Verstappen for pole at a massive 16/1 - he was within a tenth of taking Mexico pole last year.

Red Bull has long identified this race as a victory opportunity
By ProtoplasmaKid - Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0, https://
commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=44663997
Perhaps with Hamilton needing only seventh place to seal the title he'll be content with a safety first run. And if you want to take these combined points to something like their logical conclusion then you can 'back' Hamilton not to finish in the top three at 12/5.

Given we expect this one to be a close call on pace, how about going also for the 7/4 available on a pole winning margin of under 0.15 seconds? Come the race though the consideration may be turned onto its head, as cars struggle to run in each other's trails here. So with this you can back a victory margin of over six seconds at 9/13. The winning margin has been in this range in the last two Mexican Grands Prix.

The Mexican race is tough on equipment too as cooling is much more difficult in the altitude, particularly if you get into traffic. With this it may be worth backing there to be fewer than 15 classified finishers at 5/2 though the 15/8 for 15 or 16 finishers may be safer as this has been the case in two of F1's three visits since this venue returned in 2015 (unhelpfully 21 of the 22 starters finished in the other one).

Another local factor is the 900m run to turn one at the start with plenty of scope to slipstream the poleman. Again going by logical extension you can get 14/5 for the race winner to have started in second and 5/1 for them to have started third or fourth.

Force India's Esteban Ocon was clearly best of the rest in qualifying and the race here last year, starting sixth and finishing fifth; he might even have finished on the podium had he held off pitting and stopped under the subsequent Virtual Safety Car. The Force India traditionally goes well on tracks with long straights, as this one features. You can back him at 11/4 for another top six finish.

All odds quoted in this article were accurate on the Oddschecker website at 1930 GMT on Wednesday 24 October 2018.

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