"We know that race pace has been our weakness. We'll have to wait until tomorrow to find out if this will be enough.” ...Nico Rosberg
In the end though, it was more or less business as usual with Nico Rosberg claiming his third consecutive pole and team-mate Lewis Hamilton lining up behind him to make it another front row lock out for Mercedes.
Last time out at Spain it was my post qualifying tips which recorded the best performance so I'm under pressure to repeat that form...
Playing It Safe/Shorter Priced Bets:Winning Driver:
20 points on Sebastian Vettel at 5.0 (Bet365 enhanced odds)
Each of the last four Monaco Grand Prix have been won by the driver who started on pole, so you can understand why the bookies have Nico Rosberg as the favourite. However, Fernando Alonso showed at the Spanish Grand Prix that modern formula 1 doesn't necessarily follow the trend of the history books. Monaco is a different matter again of course, but Sebastian Vettel was only a tenth of a second off Nico Rosberg's pole lap time so I'm therefore sticking with my pre-weekend prediction of Sebastian Vettel for the victory.
20 points on Mark Webber at 3.0 (Ladbrokes)
Mark Webber has only one podium to his name this season, but he generally goes well at Monaco, winning twice in the last three years. Starting from fourth he looks well positioned to take advantage if the Mercedes once again eat up their tyres during the race.
20 points on Under 6.5 Seconds at 1.67 (Ladbrokes)
The Winning Margin bet to go for this season has been 'Over 6.5 Seconds' as all but Malaysia have been won by over 9 seconds and in fact the average winning margin has been 9.02 seconds. However, at Monaco with the increased difficuty in overtaking you often get a train of cars crossing the line at the finish line (5 of the last 6 Monaco Grand Prix have been won by less than 6.5 seconds), so I'm going to go against this season's trend and have a punt on the characteristics of Monaco producing a close finish.
Double Points Finish:
20 points on Ferrari at 2.63 (Ladbrokes, Paddy Power)
Felipe Massa starts from the back of the grid, so this one is a bit of a risk, but Fernando Alonso came through from the back of the grid back in 2010 to finish 6th, so even at Monaco it can be done.
Number Of Classified Finishers In Race:
10 points on Under 16.5 at 2.0 (Ladbrokes)
Monaco traditionally has a high attrition rate, with on average approximately a third of the field not making it to the finish based on the results of the last three Monaco Grand Prix.
Race Leader After 1 Lap:
10 points on Nico Rosberg at 1.25
So far in 2013 at every Grand Prix the driver on pole has crossed the line leading the race at the end of the first lap, and Monaco offers less overtaking opportunities than at any other track on the calendar, so if Nico Rosberg can stay ahead of Lewis Hamilton and Sebastian Vettel at the start, then the narrow enclosed nature of the Monaco circuit should help him extend that record.
Taking A Risk/Longer Priced Bets:Most of the following bets would definitely be described as long shots, so I would recommend treating these longer priced tips with caution...
10 points on Sebastian Vettel/Mark Webber at 26.0 (Bet365)
A dual forecast bet on Vettel and Webber has come down in price with some bookies since the market first opened, so the narrowing odds suggest I'm not the only one who's been tempted by a small speculative bet on a Red Bull one two to cover the possibility of Mercedes continuing their trend of falling back during the race once again.
Top Six Finish:
20 points on Romain Grosjean at 5.5 (Ladbrokes)
Grosjean can be an unpredictable driver, but despite his 13th place on the grid (which he put down to traffic) he reckoned he had the pace to qualify on the first two rows, and his podium in Bahrain shows that although he can be inconsistent he's nevertheless capable of the occasional strong result.
Top Ten Finish:
30 points on Paul di Resta at 2.75 (SkyBet, Ladbrokes)
Paul di Resta has been an excellent top ten bet this year, and only his narrow opening odds of 1.4 put me off backing him before qualifying for another points finish. Starting from 17th isn't ideal but it has pushed his odds out to a more generous 2.75, so I think he may just be a shade overpriced for another finish in the top ten.
Lap 1 Retirements:
20 points on 'Exactly 2' at 7.5 (SkyBet)
The bet to go for in this market so far this season has been 'No lap 1 retirements', so this one is a bit of a gamble, but if we're going to see any coming togethers on the opening lap of a race then Monaco is a prime contender.
20 point accumulator on: (Bet365)
Sergio Perez V Jenson Button - Sergio Perez at 1.8
Jean-Eric Vergne V Daniel Ricciardo - Daniel Ricciardo at 2.1
Valtteri Bottas V Pastor Maldonado - Pastor Maldonado at 1.83
From a racing fan's point of view the grid is set up for an exciting Grand Prix tomorrow*, as despite the excellent qualifying pace of Mercedes, you'd expect the race pace of Red Bull (not to mention Ferrari and Lotus) to be faster than Mercedes, so it's just a question of whether Mercedes can use the difficult overtaking conditions to their advantage and maintain track position.
As usual I'll report back after the weekend on how things turned out.
* By Monaco's standards!
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Other recent posts:
The Monaco Grand Prix: Pre-Qualifying Tips
Monaco Grand Prix - The Top Bets By The Form Guide
The Form Guide After Spain: Part 1 - Winning Driver / Podium Finish
The Form Guide After Spain: Part 2 - Top Six Finish
The Form Guide After Spain: Part 4 - Miscellaneous Bets
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Odds were current at time of publication but are subject to change.