Lewis Hamilton took advantage of some contentious team orders to romp to victory in Russia last weekend and gets the vote again in our Japanese Grand Prix predictions.
We were on the money with a trio of F1 selections at the Sochi Autodrom, including a 6/1 pay-out for picking the first three home in the correct order.
Hamilton is hard to oppose at 4/5 to pass the chequered flag first after Mercedes team-mate Valtteri Bottas let him through to land a fifth victory in the last six rounds of action.
That left the Briton holding a 50-point lead over Vettel and team principal Toto Wolff described him as “hungry, focused and completely determined” to secure a fifth world championship.
“It has been great to see the power he has brought to this championship and how he has taken it to the next level since the summer break,” beamed Wolff.
On the evidence of their dominant performance in Sochi, Mercedes have seemingly taken a step ahead of Ferrari.
However, Bottas must surely be a touch deflated after being instructed to move aside when in front, so we fear the Finn may suffer an adverse reaction this weekend.
How the Russian Grand Prix finished:
1 Hamilton (Mercedes), 2 Bottas (Mercedes), 3 Vettel (Ferrari), 4 Raikkonen (Ferrari), 5 Verstappen (Red Bull), 6 Ricciardo (Red Bull), 7 Leclerc (Sauber), 8 Magnussen (Haas), 9 Ocon (Force India), 10 Perez (Force India), 11 Grosjean (Haas), 12 Hulkenberg (Renault), 13 Ericsson (Sauber), 14 Alonso (McLaren), 15 Stroll (Williams), 16 Vandoorne (McLaren), 17 Sainz (Renault), 18 Sirotkin (Williams), DNF Gasly (Toro Rosso), Hartley (Toro Rosso)
Vettel should still be up for this contest while he has a mathematical chance of getting back in the title race, so second place for the German is a fair call.
He has matched Hamilton in winning four times at Suzuka, although it is worth noting those 2009, 2010, 2012 and 2013 triumphs were all for Red Bull.
Max Verstappen has continued that team’s good record at this venue by finishing second for the past two years and 9/4 for him to make the podium again is added to our Japanese Grand Prix betting tips.
Verstappen had a 21st birthday to remember by producing an impressive fightback from 19th to fifth in Russia.
The Dutchman started at the back after he incurred a series of engine penalties, before putting in a brilliant opening three laps.
He made up 10 places during that time and then picked his way through the best of the rest to be behind only the Mercedes and Ferrari cars by lap seven.
Verstappen’s status as the main driver at Red Bull must surely have been one reason behind Daniel Ricciardo’s decision to join Renault, but on last Sunday’s evidence it’s not hard to see why they view him as their top dog.
Past Japanese Grand Prix results:
2017 Hamilton (Mercedes), Verstappen (Red Bull), Ricciardo (Red Bull)
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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