Wednesday 4 October 2017

Japanese GP Betting Preview - Turning Japanese

F1's battles at the front in recent times have been three way between Mercedes, Ferrari and Red Bull. And the Japanese round this weekend once again in advance feels a close call between the trio - all approach the round with some reason for hope.

Will the 'big three' teams be evenly
matched again at Suzuka?
Photo: Octane Photography
Sebastian Vettel's Ferrari will not now be taking a gearbox grid drop in Japan, which brings him right back into the game. He has after all been the pace-setter in both of the previous two rounds, and more encouragingly for him the two tracks had very different demands.

It's not clear if the bookies have noticed - or perhaps they've noticed Ferrari's concurrent habit of treading on its own tail. Seb's 14/5 to win in Japan looks generous.

They have noticed Red Bull's improved form though, with Max Verstappen at a much tightened 5/1 (readers of the Malaysia betting preview will know Max could have been backed at 25/1 for his Sepang win) and Daniel Ricciardo at 7/1 to triumph this time. Flowing Suzuka will suit the RB13 - a few think Red Bull again has the best chassis in F1. If you fancy playing safer then Max is at 3/4 and Daniel 11/10 to get on the podium.

But, and though it may seem counter intuitive, all of this may make Lewis Hamilton the best value of all. His odds to win are longer than usual, at 13/8, and Suzuka should suit the Merc given its long uphill full blast final sector and quick turns elsewhere.

Overtaking is hard here, one-stoppers are the norm these days, and Mercedes is strong in qualifying which will count for even more than usual. Plus the hot temperatures of the previous two rounds, and which often bother the Mercedes, are unlikely to be repeated this weekend.

There might be a tempting outside bet for pole - Valtteri Bottas at 14/1. In spite of what was said above, Lewis has in fact never started on pole at this track while Bottas twice started third in his Williams days. On the other hand Bottas has been in poor recent form including in qualifying.

Mercedes powered cars often do well at this power track, indeed six of the top 10 Suzuka finishers last year had German power. There are some tempting odds for the same to happen - Felipe Massa is at 13/10 and Lance Stroll at 23/10 to score.

Romain Grosjean meanwhile qualified eighth here last visit and can be backed at 5/2 for a points finish this weekend.

And time for some bonkers long shot stuff. Forecasts have rain around on Saturday, so how about backing Stroll at 2,000/1, Esteban Ocon at 1,000/1 or Nico Hulkenberg at 1,500/1, to get the pole? The first two showed up well in Monza's wet qualifying while the Hulk more than once has fought for pole in wet-to-dry quali sessions. More soberly, Verstappen at 7/1 and Ricciardo at 11/1 for pole would look superb value if Saturday is wet.

All odds quoted in this article were accurate on the Oddschecker website at 2030 GMT on Wednesday 4 October 2017.

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