As the F1 circus makes the trip from Singapore to Suzuka, we take a look ahead at three key talking points for this weekend’s Japanese Grand Prix.
Was Mercedes Singapore slump a one-off?
The Singapore Grand Prix was brought to life by the struggles of the all-conquering Mercedes team.
Lewis Hamilton retired with technical issues while running outside the top three, and Nico Rosberg brought his car home a distant fourth as Sebastian Vettel won for Ferrari.
The team were adamant that the unique nature of the Marina Bay Sands night race contributed to their problems.
The slow street circuit of Singapore is in stark contrast to the fast, sweeping bends of Suzuka and we should be expecting the title protagonists to be back at the sharp end.
Following his slow pace and DNF last weekend however, Hamilton’s odds for victory in Japan at 4/5 offer much stronger value than before previous races, usually around 1/3.
Can Vettel win again?
Should Mercedes continue to struggle, then the four-time world champion is best placed to capitalise.
Sebastian Vettel was in sublime form in Singapore, dominating the weekend with pole position and the race win. The Ferrari man is 49 points behind Lewis Hamilton in the championship, but while a bid for a fifth title looks optimistic at best, the 28-year-old has a stunning record at Suzuka.
Vettel has claimed four wins at the Japanese venue, with only a Jenson Button victory in 2011 denying the German five straight successes from 2009-2013.
Ferrari believe their race-winning form last weekend was not a one-off, and Vettel is 10/3 with Ladbrokes to win the race on Sunday.
Will McLaren’s woes continue?
Sadly it looks like this former giant of the sport is set to struggle for a while yet.
A double retirement in Singapore was the latest blow, and with engine partners Honda owning the Suzuka circuit extra attention will be on the team as they seek a return to their glory days.
Jenson Button has admitted he is missing the joy of racing, and is strongly tipped to announce his retirement in the coming days with the team showing little sign of improvement any time soon.
Both Button and team-mate Fernando Alonso could, and in all likelihood would have finished in the points last week had technical issues not besieged the team once more.
However with Suzuka’s high-speed nature set to expose the shortcomings in Honda’s power unit, Button and Alonso are both priced at 3/1 for an unlikely points finish.
Only Pastor Maldonado has retired more times than Alonso this season, and the Spaniard is 5/4 not to be classified on Sunday.
All Odds and Markets are correct as of the date of publishing.
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