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Japanese Grand Prix 2016 Preview
Lewis Hamilton will be looking to make it three consecutive victories out in Japan when the green light goes out at Suzuka this Sunday.
Asia makes its final appearance on the Formula One circuit for the year this coming weekend, with Japan playing host to the F1 field. Lewis Hamilton has enjoyed a few brilliant showings at Suzuka in recent years. Having claimed back to back victories at the track, the Brit will be desperate to convert his double into a hat-trick. He will face fierce competition from teammate and title rival Nico Rosberg, as well as the two Red Bull drivers, who enjoyed fantastic outings in Malaysia.
Japanese Grand Prix | Sunday 9 October | Suzuka Circuit | 06:30
Well, that was a turn up for the books. Neither Mercedes managed a win last week, with Lewis Hamilton being forced to retire due to his car catching alight and Nico Rosberg only managing to finish in third.
The two Red Bull men took full advantage of their Mercedes counterpart’s struggles grabbing a one-two finish. It was only the second time this year that Mercedes didn’t manage a win and, in a touch of irony, it was also the second time their winning streak was put to an end by a Red Bull.
So Daniel Ricciardo joined his teammate as one of the only four drivers to win a Grand Prix this year. The Aussie’s win and Verstappen’s second place finish has seen Red Bull pull 46 points clear of Ferrari on the Constructor’s standings. Speaking of Ferrari, their two drivers’ had a bit of a nightmare out in Malaysia with Sebastian Vettel crashing out seconds after the race had commenced, and Kimi Raikkonen only managing a fourth place finish.
Raikkonen was followed across the line by his fellow countryman, Valterri Bottas. The Williams man salvaged some vital points for his team after his teammate Felipe Massa was forced to retire with brake duct issues.
It turned out to be a great day for McLaren with both Fernando Alonso (7th) and Jenson Button (9th) grabbing points. Alonso almost sneaked into the top six but a dogged display from Sergio Perez saw him pipped at the post. Nico Hulkenberg made sure Malaysia would see a decent points return for Force India as he grabbed eighth place while Renault’s Joelyn Palmer rounded out the top ten.
Suzuka is one of the most challenging tracks on the Formula One circuit. Drivers will fight it out over 53 grueling laps, with each lap spanning a distance of 5.608km and containing 19 corners. While the 130R sequence is not the only corner that could give drivers a few hassles however; the Dunlop Curve turn is also a tricky one to navigate – this was the corner that tragically claimed the life of Jules Bianchi two years ago.
The local weather bureau is predicting rainfall for Sunday morning which will leave the track slightly slick. Thankfully, there is no rainfall predicted for the main race at the moment.
Pirelli have issued the soft, medium and hard compounds for the race weekend. There are slight differences in approach from the two Mercedes men with Hamilton opting for three sets of hard compounds and Rosberg only opting for two.
Last year’s podium had a very familiar look about it with Lewis Hamilton perched on the top and Nico Rosberg one tier below him in second. The final place was taken up by Sebastian Vettel.
To Win Outright
Lewis Hamilton 11/10 | Nico Rosberg 37/20 | Daniel Ricciardo 6/1 | Max Verstappen 8/1 | Sebastian Vettel 20/1 | Kimi Raikkonen 28/1 | Fernando Alonso 100/1 | Jenson Button 100/1
Fastest Qualifier & Fastest Lap & Outright Winner: Lewis Hamilton 1/1 & 16/10 & 11/10
A fired up Hamilton is a dangerous Hamilton. And there’s no doubt the Brit will be fired up after last week’s disappointment in Malaysia. He has a healthy record at Suzuka having won the last two Japanese Grand Prix. I expect a big race weekend from the Mercedes man.
Fastest In Practice 1: Sebastian Vettel 14/1
It is a bit of a left field call but at 14/1 I just couldn’t resist. Seb has a decent record out in Japan having won both the 2012 and 2013 editions of the race. While I don’t think he’ll be able to match Hamilton for pace during qualifying or the main race, the Ferrari man could possibly take advantage of Mercedes' running slower if the first free practice session.