Formula One: McLaren’s Samurai warriors good for top-six joy in Japan

This weekend’s Japanese Grand Prix is a big one in many ways. Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg are engaged in a fierce title fight, Max Verstappen will be let loose on one of the most demanding circuits in the world in a race-winning car, and McLaren-Honda will be heading to one of their home events.

And following their very impressive performance in Malaysia – P7 for Fernando Alonso and P9 for Jenson Button, McLaren’s experienced duo could be worth backing at Suzuka.

For both Alonso and Button, this race means a lot too.

This weekend’s race could well be Button’s final Japanese Grand Prix, a circuit and a nation with which the Briton has long enjoyed a fond relationship.

And for Alonso, he too is a big fan of Japan, notably their ancient Samurai warriors, to which he would often quote their ways of life on Twitter during his Ferrari years.

Button is 7/4 to bag a second top-six finish of the campaign, with Alonso slightly shorter at 6/4.

On Honda’s home-track – the Suzuka circuit was built in 1962 as a testing venue for the Japanese marquee – all the local press attention will be on them.

And the race pace shown in Sepang last weekend suggests they and McLaren can continue their recent upswing in form.

The Honda power unit may not be on the same level as Mercedes, but despite that it held its own along Malaysia’s long straights last time out to bag a double points finish.

And with engine power less of a priority at the famous figure of eight circuit, McLaren could really impress around a Suzuka track that favours a great chassis and a great driver.

Handily the Woking squad boast a chassis many regard as a par for Ferrari and Mercedes, plus two of the finest pilots the sport has ever seen.

With scattered showers and thunderstorms forecast this weekend too, the guile and skill of a Samurai could be a vital asset this weekend.

Step forward Fernando and Jenson…

All Odds and Markets are correct as of the date of publishing