One more victory in the current Formula One season would see Nico Rosberg with one hand and four fingers on a first drivers’ championship.
With five races remaining, Rosberg is 23 points ahead of Mercedes teammate Lewis Hamilton. A victory at the Japanese Grand Prix would give the German an extra 25 points – only 18 points are on offer for the runner-up.
Should Rosberg triumph and Hamilton take second, the gap between the pair would extend to 30 points, ahead of remaining races in the USA, Mexico, Brazil and finally Abu Dhabi. This would mean Rosberg could afford to finish second in them all and still be crowned world champion, regardless of Hamilton’s position.
This bodes well for Rosberg’s odds of 2/5 to win the drivers’ championship. What also bodes well is that he will start on pole in Japan.
Having topped the timesheets during all three practice sessions at Suzuka, Rosberg bested Hamilton by 13 thousandths of a second during qualifying to ensure he starts from the front of the grid.
However, results at the last three editions of Japanese Grand Prix should make for positive reading for Hamilton.
This is the fourth successive year that the same constructor has locked out the front row of the grid in Japan and on all three previous occasions, the driver starting from second has overtaken their teammate to take the chequered flag.
In 2013 Sebastian Vettel overhauled Red Bull partner Mark Webber, while Hamilton himself has switched places with Rosberg in each of the last two years.
The odds are 6/5 that Hamilton completes a Japanese Grand Prix hat-trick, with Rosberg 10/11 to win the race for the first time.
Kimi Raikkonen starts from third and also looks a good bet to secure a podium finish, especially with Ferrari teammate Vettel relegated three positions to seventh on the grid following his involvement in a first-corner crash at the last Grand Prix in Malaysia.
All Odds and Markets are correct as of the date of publishing