2021 Portuguese GP Raceday Preview James Punt
2021 Portuguese GP Raceday Update
James Punt has penned a 2021 Portuguese GP Raceday update and he is recommending one more bet on top of those already recommended in his main preview. Find out what his fancy is below.
It was a very strange qualifying session yesterday. Max Verstappen set the fastest time but had that deleted for exceeding the track limits. Then, like just about everyone else, he couldn’t improve on his final run. The track, or the conditions, just made everyone slower and Bottas was left on pole position by 0.007 seconds.
We now have two Mercedes on the front row with the two Red Bulls on the second. Bottas and Verstappen are on the ‘clean’ side of the track which theoretically gives them the best chance of good start. However, the first corner here is not a big braking zone which makes an overtaking move more difficult. Verstappen’s Red Bull showed great traction off the line at a wet Imola and something similar here may allow him to pass one of the Mercedes.
Both teams used the medium tyre in Q2 so there is no big strategic difference between the two but at least Red Bull have two cars with which to do battle and it will be interesting to see how they use Perez to try and wrong foot Mercedes.
Valtteri Bottas may be the pole sitter, but he is only the third favourite (4.50). We only have one race here to go on which means there are no patterns to observe but last year Lewis Hamilton won from pole position. Bottas’ record of winning from pole position is only 5 from 16 so those odds look about right.
The weather today is forecast to be quite cloudy and 22 degrees. That is a little warmer than the last two days but unlikely to make much difference to how the tyres work on the tarmac. It will remain breezy, and it is this which is causing problems. Both Verstappen and Perez had problems with the wind unsettling their car at the same corner.
It was Verstappen’s reaction to correct the rear end stepping out that took outside the track limits and cost him pole position. It must be said that the Red Bull has not looked as well balanced this weekend and a clearly rattled Verstappen says he hasn’t enjoyed a single lap this weekend. That is not a very encouraging sign and he does seem out of sorts.
Best Of The Rest Battle
The best of the rest battle looks more open this weekend. McLaren have struggled and Ricciardo was knocked out in Q1, starting sixteenth. Lando Norris did better and starts seventh on the soft tyre. Last year saw those drivers start on the softs making up a lot of places over the medium shod cars in the opening laps. However, ultimately it was the drivers who started on the mediums who prevailed. Todays warmer conditions means the difference in warm up times for the two different compounds will not be much different so it is unlikely we will see a repeat of last years opening lap fun and games.
The top ten on the grid today has five cars on the medium, the Mercedes and Red Bulls, plus Leclerc in the Ferrari, and the rest on the soft. The medium is the preferred race tyre while the soft will be quicker in the opening laps so we should see some scraps early on. The track isn’t hard on the tyres and the weather is benign and hopefully the race will be about who has the faster car and which drivers make the fewest mistakes. The fact that the DRS is so powerful on the start/finish straight makes overtaking easy and the quicker car should rise to their correct levels.
Free Practice Hints
Friday’s free practice gave some hints as to long run pace. Red Bull were 0.25 quicker than Mercedes on the long runs but we know they are a little harder on the tyres than Mercedes. That may not be such a big issue on this particular track however as degradation is not a big issue. If the Red Bulls can keep the Mercedes within DRS range then they could make this pace pay off as defending on the start/finish straight is just about impossible.
Ferrari were third best on the long runs but some 0.6 seconds off the Red Bulls. Ferrari are the only top 10 team to have two cars on different tyres. Sainz will be looking to attack the Red Bulls in the opening laps while Leclerc will be trying not to lose places at the start and then play the long game on his medium tyres.
McLaren were fourth fastest which means Ricciardo will be looking to make up plenty of places in the DRS zones but he just doesn’t seem to have much confidence right now. Alpine were on a similar long rung pace to McLaren and Alonso will be eying a points finish from thirteenth on the grid.
2021 Portuguese GP Raceday: Russell In Prime Position
George Russell defied the gusty conditions, said to be the nemesis for his Williams, to qualify eleventh. He has free choice on his tyre selection and he is in prime position to tuck in and wait for the soft shod Vettel and Gasly to come into DRS range make up places and have a longer first stint. He has not had many real chances to finish in the points for Williams, but when he has, he has screwed it up.
Williams long run pace on Friday was better only than Haas, but Russell believes it is better than their one lap pace, so who knows. It is likely that we will come under pressure from Giovinazzi, Alonso and Ricciardo in faster cars. The Williams was quick in the speed trap so it will be interesting to see how he is able to attack on the start finish straight. He is a 3.50 shot to finish in the points which is tempting but when push has come to shove in the past, he has failed to deliver, and he will be under pressure to finally get it done.
2021 Portuguese GP RaceDay Bets
It is hard to see any value in the outright race winner market. A case can be made for the top three in the betting. Hamilton is now the favourite at 2.06, Verstappen at 3.50 and Bottas 4.50, but it is of no interest.
We have backed Leclerc for a podium ante-post and that looks to be a bit of a long shot now and he needs a big slice of luck although his strategy looks OK. Likewise our early bet for Gasly to finish top 6 is not in good shape. He starts nineth, on the soft tyre and the Alpha Tauri just hasn’t had the kind of pace it showed in the opening races.
Fernando Alonso dropped the ball in Q2 yesterday and he should be starting inside the top 10, as is teammate Ocon. The car is clearly happier on a track with more slow corners and the upgrades introduced at Imola are now baring fruit. He now has free choice on his tyres and with his straight line pace being very good yesterday he should be able to make up places and get a point or two. However, best odds of 1.80 are only fair. The same can be said for the 1.80 for Ricciardo to have a top 10.
Luck Required For Raikkonen
We backed Raikkonen ante post for a points finish and his odds have come in a little, despite qualifying fifteenth. The Alfa is better over a race distance than in qualifying, but he will need a flying start like he had last year, and the conditions this year make that unlikely. That is another bet that needs good luck to come in.
There is not a lot to get excited about betting wise for the race but Unibet have come up with some group markets which are worth a look.
Group 1 sees Ricciardo, Alonso, Vettel and Tsunoda and Ricciardo has been made the 3.00 favourite. That looks a bit short about a driver who is so low on confidence. The conditions will remain challenging and a lack of confidence in the car is not want you want. Alonso had a very good lap time deleted yesterday and the Alpine does look like a much more competitive car this weekend. He starts three places ahead of Ricciardo. Tsunoda has not looked on the pace all weekend and Vettel looks out of place in tenth place. He starts on the ’wrong’ tyre and we all know what a liability he is when racing in close company.
2021 Portuguese GP Raceday Tip: 1 point Fernando Alonso to win Group1 @ 3.25 with Unibet