Paddy Power gears up for Brazil

With the Paddy Power odds up and posted for the Brazilian Grand Prix, now is the time to take stock of the first two races and assess what the new rules and combinations are offering up for discerning punters

Paddy Power gears up for Brazil

Michael Schumacher may be under a bit of pressure in certain areas of the media after a poor start to the year, but there is no denying that the Ferrari F2002 is still the target in terms of outright pace. Reflecting that, Paddy Power makes the five times champion an overwhelming favourite to win (11-10), take the pole (11-8) and set fastest lap (4-5) in this weekend's Brazilian Grand Prix.

Interlagos, however, could present an opportunity to lay some shrewd money elsewhere. Even if Schumacher had not got himself involved with Jarno Trulli at the second corner in Malaysia, it was by no means certain that he would have beaten Kimi Raikkonen over the race distance. The question mark was tyres.

Yes, the Ferraris set the quickest race laps, but not by much, and even then it tended to be one or two lap performance prior to a drop-off, while the Michelin proved more consistent. Heat durability in the roasting Sepang conditions was the issue and we could be in for more of the same this weekend.

Bearing that in mind, although Ferrari will be more than keen to get back to winning ways, it could be worth exploring the odds of some of those on Michelins. Malaysian winner Raikkonen is 9-2, David Coulthard is 5-1 and Juan Pablo Montoya is definitely worth a look at 10-1. Admittedly, the new Williams FW25 has not covered itself in glory thus far, but the Colombian should be worth an each-way bet at those odds.

The new requirement for drivers to qualify with race fuel loads threw up a different look to the front of the grid at Sepang, giving us the first all-Renault front row for almost 20 years! In the immediate aftermath then, what about Fernando Alonso for pole at 14-1 or Jarno Trulli at 20-1!

The question is: will Renault qualify relatively light again and opt for a relatively short first stint at Interlagos? And, even if they do, with the engine known to be down on power, will the car be penalised too much by that long uphill drag out of the last corner to prevent a realistic pole challenge? Maybe, but balanced against that is the fact that Renault was the only Michelin team able to make the softer (option) tyre work in Malaysia, which was worth around half a second over one quick lap.

With McLaren boss Ron Dennis pointing out that qualifying light ultimately compromises race strategy, perhaps you shouldn't linger too long over the 11-2 and 7-1 on offer for Raikkonen and David Coulthard to take pole.

A less obvious punt is Toyota. The new TF103 has shown flashes of genuine pace at each of the first two races but has suffered niggling fuel pressure problems that have masked its potential. If the team has indeed solved them, Olivier Panis (2-1) and Cristiano da Matta (11-4) for points are worthy of serious consideration.

Elsewhere, Rubens Barichello is evens for a podium finish at home, while Montoya is on offer at 7-4. And, possibly the best value bet anywhere is a dual forecast (to finish first and second in any order) featuring Michael Schumacher and Kimi Raikkonen at 7-1! Or, if you're convinced Ferrari will hit back with a 1-2, that's quoted at 9-4.

We will be back ahead of each race looking at what we think offers you a better than reasonable chance of success. Happy punting!

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