Back Bottas Each-Way To Blossom In Japan
Japanese Grand Prix
Formula One switches to Suzuka in Japan this week where Nico Rosberg and Lewis Hamilton both battle it out at the top of the betting once again…
The Season So Far
At Singapore two weeks ago, it was yet another one-two for Mercedes in qualifying, but Nico Rosberg’s retirement following an electrical fault enabled Lewis Hamilton to dominate the race and take a three point lead over his team mate in the Drivers’ Championship with five races to go.
Red Bull grabbed the other two podium places, with Sebastian Vettel finishing second, his best result of the season, but Daniel Ricciardo in third still leads the reigning World Champion by 48 points.
Suzuka has a lot in common with the circuit at Spa. It’s a high-speed undulating figure of eight course that the drivers love. Picking exactly the right line at the fast, sweeping corners is crucial and cars with plenty of straight line speed are well-suited to the track. As the venue is near the coast, sudden downpours are not unusual, so teams often need to respond quickly to changing track conditions.
In The Pits
Red Bull had a good race in Singapore, where the tight twisting track reduced the advantage of cars with the Mercedes engine, and suited the RB10 with its strong aerodynamics. But they were still nowhere near to catching Lewis Hamilton and I can’t see them getting closer on a faster track where Mercedes hold all the aces. Neither Ricciardo at 9/1 nor Vettel at 12/1 make much appeal this weekend.
After all their tribulations this season, Ferrari looked more competitive in Singapore. The way the car was performing, Fernando Alonso could have done better than fifth in qualifying and if hadn’t been for the safety car wrecking their strategy, a podium finish would have been on the cards.
But at a more conventional high-speed track like Suzuka, the performance gap behind Mercedes will surely be too pronounced and even at odds of 25/1, Alonso isn’t one to be backing.
Neither Hamilton nor Rosberg have ever won at Suzuka, a stat that is unlikely to make it past the weekend. Reliability has become a small problem for the Mercedes team, but it isn’t so significant that it offsets the massive power advantage their cars have. The momentum has been with Hamilton for a few races, but now that he has surrendered the lead, the pressure may be off Rosberg. At any rate, at odds against, the value is once again with the German, who should be backed at 2/1.
Williams didn’t have a great race in Singapore, losing more ground to Red Bull in the Constructor’s Championship, but they should do better at Suzuka, a high-speed track that will suit their set-up.
Felipe Massa has the experience of a second at this track in 2012, but team-mate Valtteri Bottas has been hugely impressive this season and if the Mercedes team slip up, he is the one to rely to take advantage at 25/1.