Japanese Grand Prix Betting Preview : Hamilton to emerge from Suzuka chaos
The weather in the Far East is causing havoc with elite sport this weekend and the Japanese Grand Prix will be impacted by Typhoon Hagibis to some extent. Qualifying has been moved from Saturday, but it is still expected to take place, with qualification and the race set to be held on the Sunday. It is likely to still be wet and windy, but racing should go ahead.
Hamilton loves it in Japan
Lewis Hamilton goes in as the clear favourite to top the podium yet again this season and on a circuit that he has dominated in recent years. The Brit has won nine of the 16 Grand Prix so far this campaign, opening up a whopping 73-point lead at the top of the Drivers’ Championship.
The world champion was actually going through a rare dry spell, by his incredible standards, failing to win in Belgium, Italy or Singapore, even missing the podium in the latter. However, he returned to race-winning form by coming out on top in Russia last time out, re-stamping his authority on the chasing pack.
Hamilton has an outrageously good record in Japan, winning the last two races in Suzuka and four of the last five. Lewis has won five times in total in Japan, with his other victory coming way back in 2007 with McLaren, and he can equal Michael Schumacher’s record of six with another win this weekend.
The only recent blip in the 34-year-old’s winning run in Suzuka came when he was pipped to the world title by then team-mate Nico Rosberg. While he is under threat from the Ferraris this weekend, and to an extent from current team-mate Valterri Bottas, none have anything like as convincing an argument to win this as Hamilton.
Vettel needs a result
Bottas has consistently been the second best driver this season, but has not won a race since the fourth of the campaign, in Azerbaijan. There is still a possibility that qualifying could not take place at all and the results of second practice could be used to determine grid positions. Bottas was quickest in second practice ahead of Hamilton and this would give him the advantage of pole position, which has been crucial in recent years in Japan. This will tempt a few in on the Finn, but he is still not an appealing prospect compared to his more successful team-mate.
Charles Leclerc has been an exciting addition to the title picture this season and has been in pole for each of the last four Grand Prix, winning two of them. After taking a bit of time to get used to his new surroundings with Ferrari, the 21-year-old has not fully settled in, taking to the podium in eight of his last 10 races. He is undoubtedly a threat in Suzuka, but has far less experience of the track than his rivals, only racing there in Formula One last season when he retired.
While he may be lagging behind in the Drivers’ Championship, Leclerc’s team-mate, Sebastian Vettel, is actually a more appealing bet to do well on Sunday. The German has won four times previously in Suzuka, although all those victories came with Red Bull and the last one was in 2013. Things have not gone so well for him in Japan under the Ferrari banner, but he has been there and there abouts and has rediscovered a bit of form after winning in Singapore two races ago.
The 32-year-old is nowhere near as reliable as he used to be and is currently on for his worst finish in the Drivers’ Championship in a Ferrari as he stands fifth going into the Japanese event. He will be desperate to climb the standings and he needs a podium finish on Sunday to bridge the gap, or even completely close it, to Max Verstappen in fourth.
The Ferraris are going well at the moment and Vettel will be able to use his vast experience in tricky conditions to out-do his young team-mate and pick up a much-needed podium finish.
It is clear, though, that Hamilton is the man to beat in Suzuka and it is going to be extremely difficult for anyone to do that. Some strange things might happen on Sunday, given the weather conditions and the unusual scheduling that will emerge from the typhoon, but this is even more reason to back the experience and quality of Hamilton to come through it successfully.
Ferrari may have won three of the last four Grand Prix but they have not won in Japan since way back in 2004 when Schumacher topped the podium, with Mercedes winning each of the last five in Suzuka.
Often Hamilton is a prohibitively short price to back to win a race, but that is not the case this time around thanks to the generosity of one bookmaker in particular. While the Brit is odds-on with nearly every bookie around he is available at 11/10 with SportingBet. Possibly because of those three races he failed to win recently, possibly because of the unpredictability the weather is causing, but whatever the reason, we should pounce on it. Hamilton wins comfortably more than half the races he competes in so any time he is available at odds-against he should be snapped up.
- Lewis Hamilton has won 9 of 16 Grand Prix this season
- Hamilton holds a 73-point lead at the top of the Drivers’ Championship
- The world champion has won the Japanese Grand Prix five times and in four of the last five years
- A Ferrari driver has not won in Japan since 2004
- There are three previous winners in the field – Hamilton, Sebastian Vettal and Kimi Raikkonen
- Vettel has won the race four times and recorded the fastest lap in last year’s race
- The circuit length in Suzuka is 5.807km
- This will be the 45th edition of the Japanese Grand Prix
- No other driver has won more than two races this season – Bottas, Leclerc and Verstappen winning twice, Vettel once
- Britain’s George Russell is still looking for his first point of the season, the only driver still doing so