Toro Rosso to thrive amid chaos
Expect the unexpected in this weekend's Malaysian GP, with the Red Bulls and Toro Rossos Tom Millard's picks.
- Related Content
It's all about the weather.
The advantage of holding a grand prix in the middle of monsoon season in a tropical climate is that a cheeky shower could liven up the race.
The disadvantage is that a deluge could render the entire event a farce.
So far, F1 has just about got away with hubristically goading Mother Nature in the tempestuous Malaysian climes.
- 1pt a Red Bull to qualify fastest at 11/1 (Hills) - a wet session could level the playing field for Vettel and Ricciardo.
- 0.25pts Jean-Eric Vergne to finish on the podium at 99/1 (YouWin) - thunderstorms predicted on Sunday. Head to Stan James for each-way value.
- 0.25pts Daniil Kvyat to finish on the podium at 150/1 (bwin) - looked assured on debut. BetVictor offers best each-way price.
But it's surely only a matter of time before a race here has to be cancelled given the late-afternoon start time and the inevitability of heavy rainfall at this time of year.
In 2009 the race was started only to be abandoned amid fading light after a storm swept the track, and a repeat cannot be ruled out this weekend given the forecasts across all three days.
Regardless, there seems little point extrapolating the pace from Melbourne's dry track in the hope of finding a small edge, only to have the field turned upside down in the kind of wet qualifying session we saw last year.
Rather than queuing up for a second mortgage to entrust to the dominant Mercedes team, this looks like the kind of race where it could pay to keep stakes small and spin the roulette wheel.
There are a few cars which shone amid the showers in qualifying at Albert Park, most notably our ante-post nemeses Red Bull.
Pre-season testing showed the quadruple world champions to be hopelessly at sea under the new regulations, proving both slow and unreliable.
In the hands of home hero Daniel Ricciardo, though, the new RB10 proved a match for all but the works Mercs, qualifying convincingly on the front row and holding on to second place - at least until post-race scrutineering.
The Australian was eventually wiped from the classifications after his car was adjudged to have exceeded its fuel-flow restriction, a verdict which is currently under appeal.
But the esoterica don't matter - the plain fact is that the Red Bull ultimately proved itself to be very quick, especially in the wet.
With good traction and plenty of downforce, the blue machine should be well-suited to a slippery Sepang circuit.
As Sebastian Vettel's early exit from the Australian race showed it is far from a polished product in terms of reliability, but if Ricciardo can plant it on the front row the reigning champion must fancy his chances of doing likewise given a clean run.
The Mercedes of Lewis Hamilton and Melbourne victor Nico Rosberg take up over three-quarters of the book between them, which opens up the market for their rivals.
Vettel's entire weekend was one to forget last time out, but at the scene of his most controversial race of a dominant season, the pole specialist looks good value at 14/1 to upset the Mercedes apple cart.
Ricciardo himself is 20/1 across the board so quite why Hills price a Red Bull to take pole position at 11/1 - a full four points longer than their own combined price - is anyone's guess.
Remember, the Silver Arrows are themselves far from bulletproof, as Hamilton's woes in Friday practice and off the grid on Sunday underlined, and they could be vulnerable in a wet qualifying session to the rapidly-improving RB10.
In the race itself, consider taking massive prices on the two Toro Rosso drivers, both of whom excelled all weekend in Melbourne.
Jean-Eric Vergne has struggled for consistency so far in his short career but a mature drive to eighth after qualifying sixth underlined the Frenchman's talent.
And Russian rookie Daniil Kvyat announced his arrival on the scene in grand style by becoming the youngest points-scorer in world championship history with a gutsy ninth from eighth on the grid.
The prices on each to win the race are 350/1 (Stan James) and 500/1 (BetVictor), giving place odds of 70/1 and 100/1 for each-way backers.
Or for those with accounts at YouWin and bwin, the stand-alone podium-finish prices make even more appeal at 99/1 and 150/1 respectively.
Realistically, a wet race with plenty of attrition would be needed to land these bets but that's exactly what's on the cards with thunderstorms predicted to hit the track in late afternoon.