It’s taken him 50 races, but Jenson Button has finally scored a pole position for McLaren. If you backed him to do so earlier this week, when his odds were as high as 18.0, congratulations!
As forecast here yesterday, the limited amount of dry running available to the teams has created a few surprises on the grid, and led at least one driver into making what looks like a mistake with his set-up.
Let’s take a look at some of the key names on the grid – and the attractive odds on offer for some of the drivers who are starting at the sharp end.
Button has never started from pole position in a McLaren and never won at Spa-Francorchamps. At least one of those things will change today; he will line up in first place after an emphatic performance in qualifying. Button did three laps that were all good enough to put him on pole position.
Odds on him winning have been slashed to 2.30 as a result. That’s not a great return so it might be worth looking elsewhere.
There are plenty of good reasons to fancy Raikkonen’s chances of victory at Spa – and not just because he’s won here in four of his last five starts. He’s already had three second places this year. And following Pastor Maldonado’s penalty, he’ll start from a season-best third place.
Lotus may have had to scrap the upgrade they were planning to run this weekend but the E20 is clearly still competitive. Odds of 4.50 on Raikkonen to win are definitely worth considering.
Hamilton paid the price for deciding against running McLaren’s new rear wing after only being able to test it properly in the final practice session. Button took the upgrade and duly out-qualified Hamilton for only the second time this year. Hamilton will start seventh.
He should have the speed to move forward in the race but with his team mate starting on pole position in a car which seems to be set up better, it’s hard to justify picking him even at odds of 10.00.
Long odds on the Saubers
It’s not often you see drivers starting in the first two rows with odds as long as the Sauber drivers. The pair were quick from the word go in Spa. Kobayashi was fastest of all in the wet running on Friday. On Saturday the track dried out and the C31s were still quick in practice.
They delivered on that potential in qualifying. Kobayashi put the car on the front row of the grid and Sergio Perez backed him up in fifth – which will become fourth after Maldonado’s penalty.
Their odds of victory are very appealing: Kobayashi on 12.00, Perez 22.00. Neither of these drivers have won a race before – Kobayashi hasn’t even stood on the podium – but they have often had strong race pace. Perez in particular has produced some excellent performances already this year, moving to the front of the field by making good use of the C31’s kindness to its tyres. At odds this he’s definitely worth a punt if you’re feeling lucky.
You’ll also find odds of 22.00 on Spanish Grand Prix winner Pastor Maldonado. But keep in mind that he will be moved back three places on the grid from third to sixth following his penalty, so isn’t the good value he might immediately seem.
Keith Collantine is the editor of Formula One blog F1 Fanatic.