Japanese Grand Prix Betting Tips & Preview – Sunday 7th October 2018

Japanese Grand Prix Track Guide

It’s not that long ago that the race for the drivers’ championship was wide open. Things can change quickly in Formula 1 though and Lewis Hamilton almost looks home and hosed the in the race for yet another title. Hamilton is a best price of 1/20 to kick on and win the title and he’ll fancy his chances of extending his lead over Sebastian Vettel by winning the Japanese Grand Prix for a fifth time.

This is not a race to simply take for granted though. Drivers are always pushed to their limits at the notoriously tricky Suzuka Circuit while the inclement weather forecast for the practice sessions could play havoc with teams’ preparations. Mercedes will doubtless need to be on top of their game but it’s hard to imagine the other teams will make the necessary improvements to challenge the Silver Arrows’ star man so we’re predicting another Hamilton success.

Top Tips

Lewis Hamilton to win @ 5/6

Odds correct at time of writing but may have changed since. Check site for latest prices.

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Race Info

Suzuka Circuit, home of the Japanese Grand Prix since 2003, is the only figure of eight track currently used in Formula 1. The bridge at turn 15 is perhaps the best known corner at Suzuka but this is a track which tests the world’s best drivers throughout. Suzuka includes every type of corner and the three sections all reward different elements of an F1 car. Although there are very few run-off areas, overtaking is possible towards the end of sector two and into sector three, a section which is more about straight line speed than the tricky first sector.

RoundCountryCircuitRace Distance
17/21 Japan Suzuka Circuit 307km / 53 Laps

Schedule

 DateStart TimeFinish TimeForecast ConditionsTV Coverage
Practice 1 Fri 5th October 02:00 03:30 Showers / 23° Sky F1
Practice 2 Fri 5th October 06:00 07:30 Dry / 26° Sky F1
Practice 3 Sat 6th October 04:00 05:00 Dry / 28° -
Qualifying Sat 6th October 07:00 08:00 Showers / 28° Sky F1
Race Sun 7th October 06:10 08:10 Showers / 28° Sky F1

Last Season's Result (2017)

Lewis Hamilton won his fourth Japanese Grand Prix 12 months ago. His was comfortably the fastest car through each section of qualifying and he had little trouble in getting the job done from pole position. Such was Hamilton’s dominance over the competition that he even managed to break the lap record at the Suzuka Circuit for what was the 61st Grand Prix win of his career.

While Hamilton will return to Suzuka with great memories this week, Sebastian Vettel will have decidedly mixed memories. The good memories come from his own four wins in Japan but he won’t forget last year’s race - when his Ferrari failed on the final lap - for a long time.

PositionDriverCarGrid PositionPoints
1 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes 1 25
2 Max Verstappen Red Bull 4 18
3 Daniel Ricciardo Red Bull 3 15
4 Valteri Bottas Mercedes 6 12
5 Sergio Perez Kimi Raikkonen 10 10
6 Esteban Ocon Force India 5 8
7 Sergio Perez Force India 7 6
8 Kevin Magnussen Haas 12 4
9 Romain Grosjean Haas 13 2
10 Felipe Massa Williams 8 1

Race News: Row Opens Up Over Team Orders

Team orders were the big story at last weekend’s Russian Grand Prix. Mercedes decided that Lewis Hamilton’s significant lead over Sebastian Vettel at the top of the F1 drivers’ championship was not big enough to risk the British driver finishing second to his teammate, Valteri Bottas. Bottas’s radio communication with the pit teams suggested that he was far from happy to move aside and give up a golden chance to win his first race of the season but he sucked it up and did what was best for the team.

Hamilton himself suggested that the nature of his win made it hard to enjoy. Deep down though, he’ll be delighted to have opened up a 50 point gap over Vettel and it’s hard to argue that it’s undeserved. The situation did reopen the row over team orders as fans would love nothing more than to see the best drivers get a chance to race against each other. Can you fault Mercedes for doing everything in their power to secure another drivers’ title though?

Analysis: Mercedes to Execute Plan with Precision

Many F1 fans believe that Suzuka is the most challenging track that the drivers visit all year. It’s never just about the drivers though and the teams will need to get through a lot of work in the early stages of the week to ensure that they hit upon the optimum set up. That’s going to be a lot tougher if the rain disrupts the practice sessions so Ferrari and Red Bull may have to take the odd gamble in their quest to close the gap with Mercedes.

Of those two it’s Ferrari who have taken the more aggressive route in terms of the tires they’ve brought to Japan. Their choice of a SuperSoft-Soft combination shows that they believe the time has already come for them to take a bit of a risk. The power of the Ferrari’s coupled with that choice makes them a danger but Mercedes will believe that their more reserved, thought out strategy will secure maximum points.

Vettel to Push for Japanese Redemption

The aggressive strategy of the Ferrari’s this week will be music to the ears of Sebastian Vettel. The German is desperate to make up for last year’s late disappointment and will not stop chasing Hamilton until the drivers’ championship is over. We’ll learn a lot in practice so if the early signs are good, expect Vettel to qualify very strongly indeed.

Final Verdict: Hamilton To Win

Lewis Hamilton will, once again be very aware that Vettel is his main challenger. Ferrari are hopeful of a good week and may be able to close the gap in terms of performance but Mercedes never rest on their laurels and will be 100% committed to their own strategy. This should be an entertaining race but Hamilton is the man to beat at 5/6 with BetVictor even though it may be worth betting on Vettel to have the fastest lap at 9/2 with Ladbrokes.

About

Suzuka Circuit in 2006
Suzuka Circuit © shiraga (cc-by-sa/2.0)

Japan’s Suzuka Circuit is one of the most recognisable racetracks in the world. It’s the only track on the F1 calendar that is in the shape of a figure 8, with the track passing back under itself at the mid-way point. Whilst it’s been Formula 1 that has arguably put the track on the map and injected a massive following in Japan, the track has been able to host other events, such as the World Touring Car Championship, Super Gt, Moto GP and many more.

The track was originally designed and developed by Soichiro Honda as a test track for Honda with tehri car development. But, it was deemed just too good to only be used behind closed doors and since 1952, racing of the highest calibre has been held here.

Track Highlights

Japanese Grand Prix 2012
Michael Elleray, Flickr

The Suzuka circuit lies south-west of Nagoya, Japan’s third largest city and is revered by drivers and the teams. The 5.8km circuit is famed for its figure of 8 layout and includes famous corners, such as the Spoon Curve and 130 R.

But, what really makes Suzuka special is the fans and they turn out in tehri drives to catch a glimpse of tehri favourite racing team, whether that be F1 or other motorsports. The race has often been at a pivotal time in the championship and it always provides a huge challenge for both the drivers and the teams.

The drivers set off down the pit straight, which is the first of the DRS Zone. There is a big elevation drop down into turn 1, which is something that many people watching on TV don’t see. This means that drivers have to nail their breaking zone and get on a little earlier than they might If it were a flat run down.

The drivers need to be fully committed into the corner, as it’s extremally fast taken at speed around 260kmph, before then breaking through the second part of the corner as it tightens quite considerably and has huge lateral G fighting against the driver’s neck.

We then move into one of the best sequences of corners anywhere in the world with the “s” turns. The corners move from left to right, rising up behind the pit complex – all the time with drivers fighting to get on full throttle as soon as possible. They then head over the top and drop down again looking for a late apex before riding up through Dunlop curve.

Drivers are then trying to take the corner flat, which it almost is throughout qualifying, although at the same time trying not to scrub their tyres and lose time. The next two corners the drivers are going to use a lot of the kerb, before having to drop down into the second of the two corners and accelerating through.

They then pass under the bridge on this brilliant race track before cruising through the kink and heading into hairpin. The will be looking for a late turn in for use of maximum acceleration throughout the corner.

The longest corner of the track awaits next and whilst it’s pretty easy in the dry, in the wet, which it often is at Suzuka, it can be very tricky in terms of how much power to put down. They then move into Spoon corner and run from kerb to kerb fighting to try and carry as much speed as possible through this.

The cars rise up the track again, heading over the crossover section. Interestingly, the bridge always creates a little ripple in the tarmac, which means that there is always a bump here for the drivers just to be aware of. They then hit 130 R a corner once feared by the drivers, but it has been improved of late in terms of the run off, allowing a little more speed to be carried through safely.

Next up is the famous chicane – the scene of when Prost and Senna came together and then straight into the final corner trying to find the best line, coming down the hill and across the start finish line.

History

Suzuka Circuit Aerial View
Suzuka Circuit Aerial View © Planet Labs, Inc. (cc-by-sa/4.0)

The first formula 1 race was held in 1976. At the time, Suzuka was already a highly established track for motor racing, hosting several Japanese Grand Prix’s, albeit non-championship races. Since then, the track has been modified four times in total. The first came in 1983 when a chicane was added to the last curve to slow cars down through the pit straight. A host of crash barriers and run off areas were also added to increase safety.

The next change came about in 2002 when the chicane was lightly modified, and the 130 R corner was also made a little safer. A year later, 130R was tweaked again, increasing run off area even further and general improvements to safety were made as a result of the death of Daikro Kato in 2003.

1988 – Prost v Senna

Alain Prost and Ayrton Senna went head to head in 1988 for the world title. The pair were widely considered to be the best two races on the planet at the time and the pair qualified in first (Senna) and second respectively to set up the race perfectly.

Dramatically, Senna had stalled on the grid at the start of the race, giving Prost an early lead. He dropped to 14th place but quickly made a charge through the field. By lap 14, the rain started to come, which benefitted Senna. Prost’s gearbox was playing up and by this time and Senna was right behind him. Prost had been held up in back markers for much of the race, which Senna pounced on.

Senna went on to win the dramatic race by 13 seconds, running slick tyres in the wet for much of the race. He then went on to win the Drivers World championship by just 3 points over Prost, which was also the points difference for that race.

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