The race is over.
First place: Valtteri Bottas.
Hamilton believes it will be tough for Mercedes to outdo Ferrari in Japan, but the motorsport gods do seem to be shining on them. The Brit went as far as to say that his team aren’t favourites for any of the final five races, but that’s surely got to be scrutinised after another disastrous weekend for Vettel in Russia.
There are set to be mixed conditions over the weekend of the Japanese Grand Prix. It could be wet for qualifying, while there should only be moderate winds for the race itself. On paper, that could favour Ferrari – it’s a track which will allow Scuderia to build up speed, but Mercedes will be waiting to capitalise on any misfortune once again. The hairpin at the Suzuka has a lot of potential for incidents, so it will be one of the biggest tests yet although it comes late in the season.
Hamilton to win
Hamilton has a fine record in Japan, winning there in 2007, 2014, 2015, 2017, 2018. He goes into the race with a 73-point lead in the standings and on the back of his triumph in Russia, which was his first in three races.
Leclerc to win
Ferrari do have a significant edge because of their straight-line speed. That means Leclerc once again has to be considered among the favourites as he looks to make it four podiums in a row, at the very least.
Vettel to win
Ferrari are confident Vettel will avoid a power unit penalty. He should be able to revert to his previous MGU-K, as a new one would incur a penalty, but he at least showed signs of being back to his best in the early stages in Russia, with Ferrari leading 1-2 in the opening laps.
Head to Head
This will be Red Bull’s first Japanese Grand Prix with Honda engines, but Max Verstappen is not expecting miracles.
It will also be the first Japanese Grand Prix in 12 years where four Honda-engine machines have been on the grid.
Vettel hasn’t won in Japan since 2013.
Hamilton to win
Hamilton is now moving into the business end of the season and Toto Wolff will be demanding that he takes a giant stride towards the Championship title here. Whatever his excuses about the straight design of the track, and he’s been getting them in early, anything other than first place ought to be a disappointment – even if it won’t stop him retaining his crown.
John Abrams is a passionate sports fanatic who follows NBA, NFL, NHL, NCAAF, NCAAB and Formula 1. A former sports trader, John has an unquestioned thirst for sports knowledge and often fills his time playing fantasy or placing wagers online.
All Predictions by John Abrams