Japan has been the scene of more drivers’ world championship coronations than any other stop on the Formula One calendar, and although that won’t be the case this year, its bearing could still be huge.
With a mere three points separating championship leader Lewis Hamilton from Mercedes colleague Nico Rosberg, it’s safe to say there will be no need for a travelling presentation party at Suzuka for the Japanese Grand Prix.
Having edged ahead in the standings for the first time in the whole season after taking the chequered flag in Singapore while Rosberg was forced into a painful retirement, plenty of punters will be flocking to 8/15 championship favourite Hamilton before the weekend’s festivities begin.
Then again, with five Grand Prixs and a potential 150 points still up for grabs to a single driver, there will be those willing to let this thrilling championship race take another twist before shelling out on the eventual winner.
Given the miniscule point-gap between the Silver Arrows, there will also be many understandably intent on siding with Rosberg at more appealing odds of 6/4.
However, while neither man can lay claim to a win in Japan before – Hamilton’s best remains third and Rosberg’s fifth – historically this race has proven a major thorn in the latter’s side, adding more attraction to a punt on the Brit to secure a second world crown.
Despite it being Hamilton’s turn to retire at Suzuka 12 months ago following a collision with Sebastian Vettel on lap one, Rosberg could still only muster an eighth-place finish from fourth on the grid.
Before that, the German had been forced to retire from the race in both 2012 and ’10, sandwiching a hydraulics failure in qualifying that demoted him to the back row of the grid in 2011, between them.
If the hoodoo should continue, those 8/15 odds on Hamilton may be looking quite plump by the time Sunday’s chequered flag has been waggled.
All Odds and Markets are correct as of the date of publishing.
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