The 2015 19-race Formula 1 season is drawing to a close. Just four races remain: USA, Mexico, Brazil and Abu Dhabi.
Mercedes’ works team has already been awarded the Constructor’s Championship title while their star-driver, Lewis Hamilton, simply needs to outscore Sebastian Vettel by nine points and teammate Nico Rosberg by two points at Texas’ Circuit of Americas to retain his World Champion crown with three races to spare.
Suffice it to say Hamilton has enjoyed a near faultless season, registering nine wins and an additional four podium finishes. Whilst not questioning the Brit’s ability, many observers have pointed to his car citing Mercedes’ seemingly superior engine and chassis as the primary reason for his success.
It is an argument with valid reasoning but countered by the simple fact that Nico Rosberg, propelled by the very same equipment, is situated in third position in the Championship standings nestled closely behind Sebastian Vettel.
Vettel is a class act, as underlined by his four World Championship wins, but they were all claimed in a Red Bull car under old regulations. The German is now reborn as a Ferrari pilot and he is clearly enjoying his time with the Italian marque.
So far during 2015, he has racked-up three race wins and claimed eight additional podium finishes and the big question now is this: can Vettel continue his string of excellent results and prevent Nico Rosberg from claiming a Mercedes 1-2 in the World Driver’s Championship standings?
William Hill say his prospects are a marginal odds-against, offering 11/10, +1.10 or even 2.10 depending on which country you reside! Whatever your viewpoint, it looks a mouth-watering battle alright.
Vettel currently has a 7-point lead over Rosberg and is driving a car which is showing improvement week-after-week. Rosberg on the other hand has a car which has been mighty on all circuits – with the exception of Singapore – since the start of the 2014 season. It is also a car which has failed him twice in the past four races. Succumbing to engine failure in Italy and a broken throttle in Russia.
Interestingly, Gibraltar-based sportsbook BetVictor are offering a market on the number of race wins Rosberg will have during the course of the season. Bearing in mind he has already three victories, they offer: 11/10 for four race wins, 7/4 for three race wins, 3/1 for five race wins, 16/1 for six race wins and 200/1 for seven race wins (a clean sweep of all the remaining races). Head over to BetVictor.com if you like the looks of those odds.
Mindful of the scoring system, which gives race winners 25 points, runners-up 18, third-placed finishers 15, then 12, 10, 8, 6, 4, 2 & 1 points, and the small fact that Rosberg claimed pole position in both Texas and Abu Dhabi as well as winning in Brazil last season, it is very unlikely he will not win another race before the conclusion of the season. That could be the key factor in him overhauling Sebastian Vettel in the Championship points standings.
Texan Dream for Mercedes
As for the forthcoming venues, the Circuit of the Americas, which is a custom-built F1 racetrack, will be staging its fourth Formula 1 race. While it is sure to attract a 100,000+ audience, the circuit has failed to provide enthralling racing and favours ‘high speed’ cars which in turn require a low downforce aerodynamic configuration.
Resultantly, the Mercedes team will be strongly favoured here while rival cars can be expected to be strung out all over Texas. To underline how the configuration separates the men from the boys, a trawl through previous results will show that the 2012 rendition of the race saw no fewer than nine cars lapped.
Five cars suffered the same fate in both 2013 and 2014 and that is despite Safety Car intervention last year (something that allows lapped cars to un-lap themselves).
USA GP Stats
When placing your bets on this year’s race, be mindful of that whist also considering Sebastian Vettel’s record of setting the fastest lap in all three previous races here.
The “Fastest Lap” market is very popular with punters and also with Sebastian Vettel. The German always made a point of putting in a flying lap no matter what his advantage was during his all-conquering championship years and just last week he was caught on camera boasting and taunted his “victory” in that particular contest to race winner Lewis Hamilton
So far 2015 has seen five drivers claim a fastest lap: Vettel (once), Raikkonen (twice), Ricciardo (three times), Rosberg (also three times) and Hamilton (six times)
After Texas, there is just a seven day gap before the circus reconvenes in Mexico City. It will be the first time since 1992 that Formula 1 has been to the Autodromo Hermanos Rodriguez which has been refurbished for the return of the sport.
Teams will have no data to assist them prepare their cars although their drivers will have completed scores of laps in simulators to familiarise themselves with it. While the racetrack with a projected 75sec lap looks very conventional, the coarseness of the tarmac will be a definite imponderable as will the effect of the considerable altitude. This is something that could overwhelm turbo-chargers which are tasked with feeding as much air into the engine as possible.
Combined, this cocktail will be enough to provide a high rate of attrition and make the “number of finishers” market the obvious first-stop shop for value seekers.
So far in 2015, there have been an average of 3.46 non-finishers per-race, which explains why leading F1 betting firms like to set their line at 16.5. Twenty cars start each race after all. And an all-important note to the uninitiated: if a car completes 90 percent of a race before breakdown or accident curtails its race, it is still deemed to be a “classified finisher.”
Brazil on November 15th and Abu Dhabi on November 29th round out the season.
Brazil’s race, staged at Sao Paulo, has seemingly been on the calendar forever (OK, since 1973) and always acts as the penultimate race of the year.
It’s a very dated and short track in which cars in qualifying trim are capable of completing laps in under 70 seconds. It does have an awesome straight though, meaning high-speeds and 65% of each lap raced at full throttle.
Once again, the Mercedes cars will be very much at home here as will some of the other teams they supply engines to such as Williams’ and Force India.
But, the pendulum could swing back towards Sebastian Vettel and his Ferrari in Abu Dhabi if the predicted Vettel/Rosberg battle for runners-up position in the World Championship does go down to the wire.
The mega-expensive Yas Marina Circuit stages a novel race which starts in daylight and ends under floodlights at night. It has proven a happy hunting ground for Vettel who has won half of the six F1 races staged here.
Most pertinently, the design of the track is sure to play to the strengths of his car which will enjoy the numerous short straights and 21 corners.