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Chinese Grand Prix Betting: Vettel takes pole with tyre saving drive

Formula One RSS / / 18 April 2009 /

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Scott Ferguson reports on the final round of qualifying in Shanghai where Red Bull have ended Brawn GP's run of consecutive poles...

Sebastien Vettel claimed his first pole position with a great flying lap, running on low fuel, but obviously brimming with confidence, taking just one lap in Q3.

Importantly, Red Bull preserved their tyres with that qualifying strategy and Mark Webber looked just as impressive, saving everything for one hot last lap, and he'll have his fingers crossed for a long-overdue race win. He is certainly more likely to get a clear run from the second row than back in the pack. In the flat-out qualifying of Q2, before fuel loads and race tyres were used, the Red Bulls had over three-tenths of a second on the rest of the field.

One thing to be wary of though, is that both Red Bull drivers reported drive-shaft problems. The team saved the cars during qualifying, but won't be able to do anything overnight in parc ferme - how reliable will they be tomorrow? 90 minutes of running flat out will expose any flaws.

In five years of the China GP, two drivers stand out for their results - Fernando Alonso - five drives, never worse than fourth, and Kimi Raikkonen, four podiums and one retirement. Jenson Button's record of three top fives isn't too bad either, considering how off the pace the Hondas were.

A key point to note about previous races here was the time of year. Being at the end of the season, teams had done all their testing and sorted out most of the problems. Although with Honda last year, you can probably forgive them putting all their resources into research for 2009. I'll pass on Raikkonen as Ferrari are struggling to be competitive, but hell be in the running for low points.

The Renault team were up early on Saturday to fit new parts flown in on Flavio Briatore's private jet.

"I think it has been a strange weekend for us, with a completely new car this morning and we only completed three laps this morning, so we arrived in qualifying with some doubts," said Alonso. "A blind qualifying for us because we didn't know how the car would respond, but we are extremely happy with this result."

The interim double-diffuser has obviously delivered instant improvement, is there more to come from Alonso as he gets more familiar with the changes? Experience, consistency and an improving car makes him a sound bet for a podium finish.

What about the weather? Rain is forecast throughout raceday, but it is unlikely to be of the magnitude that stopped the race at Sepang. Button and Rubens Barrichello sit just behind the pace and have the brilliance of Ross Brawn working out the timing for tyre changes. Everything was timed to perfection in Malaysia, being able to overcome a poor start. With the doubts on Red Bull's reliability, I think Brawn to be winning car again is great value at better than evens, especially with rain on the radar.

Two bets I like:

Fernando Alonso for a podium finish at [3.0] or better.
Brawn to be winning car at [2.0] or better.

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