Ricciardo can reach the sharp end on Japan grid

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Daniel Ricciardo has five more races as a Torro Rosso driver before stepping up to Red Bull in 2014.

The Australian has impressed many in his two and a half years in the sport and repeated impressive displays in qualifying have been particularly notable.

Ricciardo is 5/4 to reach Q3 and the final part of qualifying in the Japanese Grand Prix at Suzuka, a feat he has achieved in five of the past seven races.

That’s more times than McLaren men Jenson Button and Sergio Perez, both of whom are shorter odds at 8/13 and 6/5 respectively.

Ricciardo first served notice of his one-lap prowess after placing his car sixth on the grid at Bahrain last season.

After making his debut midway through 2011 with the now defunct HRT squad, Ricciardo has spent the past two seasons alongside Jean-Eric Verge at Torro Rosso, hoping to earn a chance at the big time with Red Bull.

Vergne outscored the 24-year-old last season but in 2013 Ricciardo has consistently had the upper hand.

The Aussie leads Vergne 18-13 in the points standings but the real difference has come in qualifying.

Six top-ten placings against Vergne’s three has proved enough to convince Red Bull he is worthy of replacing Mark Webber alongside Sebastian Vettel next season.

Suzuka takes no prisoners, but Ricciardo drove well to 10th place last year and has come on significantly since that race, and can feature at the sharp end of the grid this time around.

Another man on the up is Esteban Gutierrez at Sauber.

The Mexican is in his rookie campaign and after a slow start to his career has now made Q3 in each of the past two races, with a career-best of eighth at Korea last weekend.

With Sauber enjoying an upswing in performance, a price of 7/4 on the 22-year-old to make the final part of qualifying for a third-straight race should warrant attention.

 

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

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Richard Marsh

Richard loves his sport, especially if it involves the sound of tyres screaming around a race track. He's not fussy though and his '90s Premier League nostalgia and knowledge of team nicknames is tough to match.