Anyone who believed that Mercedes’ below par performance in Singapore was anything other than a blip was proved to be foolhardy in their assessments after the Silver Arrows restored order in qualifying for the Japanese Grand Prix.
The only slight surprise was that Nico Rosberg out qualified Lewis Hamilton in an all-too familiar one-two for the runaway Constructors Championship leaders in Suzuka.
Rosberg will certainly not be counting his chickens ahead of Sunday’s race however, having eventually trailed Hamilton home by nine seconds in the 2014 edition, despite sitting on pole then too.
The German driver offers slightly more value as always at 6/5, though there is plenty of attraction in backing Hamilton – a victor here twice before – at 1/1, with Rosberg in the midst of a five-race winning drought.
The major disappointment towards the sharp end of the grid was felt by Ferrari after the Italian team failed to replicate their dominance around Marina Bay a week previously, where Sebastian Vettel took the chequered flag in Singapore as Mercedes struggled with tyre management.
Vettel had to settle for fourth place on the grid, posting a time nearly a second behind Rosberg’s marker and was pipped by a pacey-looking Valterri Bottas to third.
The Ferrari man will have to defy odds of 12/1 to make it successive Grand Prix wins, which feels unlikely barring race incident.
Meanwhile Bottas was delighted with his own and the team’s performance at a track where he finished on the final step of the podium a year ago.
The Finn said: “I’m really happy to be third again in Suzuka. It has been a good day. We made some changes after FP3 and those changes were exactly what we needed, so as a team we have really performed well.
He added: “Starting third we need to target the podium tomorrow.”
All Odds and Markets are correct as of the date of publishing.
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