Max Verstappen produced a dominant display to win in Malaysia and we’re backing him to follow that up with another triumph at the Japanese Grand Prix.
The Dutchman, who turned 20 the day before his victory in Sepang, has been strong in qualifying all season.
Fortune has often failed to favour the Red Bull driver on race days, but Verstappen now looks worth following for the rest of the season.
With question marks over Lewis Hamilton and Sebastian Vettel, 9/2 for Verstappen is value in the Japanese Grand Prix odds, especially as he finished a fine second here 12 months ago.
The rising star put the Malaysia win down to a brave overtake on race-leader Hamilton at the start of lap four.
“Straight away I could see our pace was good and that Lewis was struggling with traction,” said Verstappen. “I knew that he was fighting for the championship and wouldn’t take too many risks, so I went for it.
“As soon as I passed Lewis, I knew from there onwards I could control the race. The car was really good and our pace on the soft tyre was better than I expected.
“You can never predict how the rest of the season will go but we keep improving the car and it is looking positive. So hopefully from now onwards we can build on this.”
How the Malaysian Grand Prix finished:
1 Verstappen (Red Bull), 2 Hamilton (Mercedes), 3 Ricciardo (Red Bull), 4 Vettel (Ferrari), 5 Bottas (Mercedes), 6 Perez (Force India), 7 Vandoorne (McLaren), 8 Stroll (Williams), 9 Massa (Williams), 10 Ocon (Force India), 11 Alonso (McLaren), 12 Magnussen (Haas), 13 Grosjean (Haas), 14 Gasly (Toro Rosso), 15 Palmer (Renault), 16 Hulkenberg (Renault), 17 Wehrlein (Sauber), 18 Ericsson (Sauber), DNF Sainz (Toro Rosso), Raikkonen (Ferrari)
Hamilton left Sepang with mixed emotions, as second place extended his lead in the Formula One world championship to 34 points, but a lack of pace did not augur well for upcoming events.
“I don’t know what I’m able to say and not say as I don’t want everyone knowing all of the problems we do have,” he said. “We definitely have work to do, that is for sure.”
That makes 13/10 for the Briton look a touch short for us, while 5/2 for Vettel is also skinny judged on the technical problems suffered by Ferrari, with a gearbox issue adding to the uncertainty.
Verstappen’s Red Bull teammate Daniel Ricciardo managed to re-take third place from Valtteri Bottas of Mercedes in Sepang and then hold off the late charge of Vettel.
The Australian is available at 6/1 in the Japanese Grand Prix odds and was in an upbeat mood following an eighth podium finish of the year.
“This double podium is a very positive result for us,” beamed Ricciardo, who was a winner in Azerbaijan back in June and second in Singapore last month.
“Obviously Max got the big one and drove well, so congrats to him for the win; he drove strong all weekend.
“There were a few extra bits available for the cars here and I think we’re going to try that again in Suzuka; it looks positive for us at the high downforce circuits.”
Past Japanese Grand Prix results:
2016 Rosberg (Mercedes), Verstappen (Red Bull), Hamilton (Mercedes)
2015 Hamilton (Mercedes), Rosberg (Mercedes), Vettel (Ferrari)
2014 Hamilton (Mercedes), Rosberg (Mercedes), Vettel (Red Bull)
2013 Vettel (Red Bull), Webber (Red Bull), Grosjean (Lotus)
2012 Vettel (Red Bull), Massa (Ferrari), Kobayashi (Sauber)
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