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Japanese Grand Prix Preview 2016

October 07, 2016

- Grant Whittington

Following the enthralling scenes in Malaysia last weekend, has a potentially decisive gap opened up between Mercedes team-mates Nico Rosberg and Lewis Hamilton? The reigning World Champion looked to be steering himself back into title contention following a pulsating race which saw the British driver comfortably surge out in front with just 15 laps remaining, only for the racing Gods to conspire against him as his race (and engine) abruptly collapsed in dramatic fashion.

With just five races to go, it appears to be a question of when and not if the 31-year-old German eclipses his runner-up finishes in 2014 and 2015 and lands a maiden Formula one (F1) title. Given Hamilton’s fate, there is no doubting that Rosberg owed his 3rd place podium finish to a generous slice of fortune after being tagged by Sebastian Vettel in the early stages which saw his car spin and his position plummet from 6th to 21st. However, his resilience piloted a creditable recovery to earn himself what could prove to be an invaluable point’s gain come the final standings.

23 points now separate the top two and Hamilton now has an almost insurmountable task of likely needing to win all of the remaining five races if he is immerse himself alongside Alain Prost and Sebastian Vettel as a four-time world champion.

Despite this tall order, Hamilton should take a wealth of optimism from his drive in the Garden City of Lights and he will need to maintain this performance level if he is to keep the title race alive.

Suzuka in Japan provides the adrenaline rush for the upcoming Grand Prix which takes place this Sunday. This event is overwhelmed with animated onlookers as this exigent circuit induces stirring memories of racing heartbreak, sporting drama and laudable bravery. It is a race that has shaped careers and defined legacies – think the late, great Ayrton Senna at his peak emerging victorious in the 1988 edition of this race to clinch the title after sinking to 14th on the opening lap.

Conversely, the Land of The Rising Sun does not provide glowing memories for the current F1 frontrunner. Rosberg squandered pole position in Japan last year and incredibly has never triumphed in a F1 event in the month of October – the only month of the season in which he is yet to be crowned a winner. With Mercedes reliability coming under scrutiny, can Red Bull secure a one-two finish for the consecutive weekend? Here are the latest Japanese Grand Prix odds and the main talking points ahead of this weekend.

Hamilton goes into the race as 11/10 favourite with Bet365 having won the Japanese GP the last two years. Prior to Hamilton’s domination, it was Vettel who mastered the tricky course in 2012 and 2013.

If we assume Mercedes take the top two positions for the remaining five races, then Hamilton must win every one or Rosberg will him pip him to the title. Rosberg is priced at 15/8 to break his October curse and Malaysian winner Daniel Ricciardo is 5/1 to hold off the Mercedes pairing for a second consecutive GP.

Away from the top three, a gamble on Vettel at 20/1 to roll back the years could have been worthwhile had the Ferrari man been faced with the hurdle of having to overcome a three-place grid penalty.

Over the years, Japan has been the venue for many title-deciding races. Could there be another twist in the tale just around one of Suzaka’s fast corners?

 

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