How the Bookies See It
|Japanese Grand Prix Winner||
Under 5 Seconds
Over 10 SecondsInclusive
Between 5 and 10 Seconds Inclusive
|2017 Drivers' Championship||
- Lewis Hamilton started in pole position for the Malaysian Grand Prix on Sunday 1 October, but problems with his car meant that he lacked the pace required to stay in front, and by the end of the fourth lap he had been overtaken by Max Verstappen. Given the problem, Hamilton could well have finished even further down the field, but he put in a solid drive to secure second place, albeit some 12.77 seconds behind the winner. His second-place finish earned Hamilton 18 points, helping him to extend his lead at the top of the Drivers’ Championship table.
- Sebastian Vettel knew that he would have an uphill struggle to reach the podium in Malaysia from the very beginning, because he started in 11th place on the grid thanks to mechanical problems of his own during qualifying. That was a huge blow to the German’s chances of making up for being forced to retire from the previous race in Singapore, but Vettel made the best of a bad situation and tore through the pack in front like a warm knife through butter. He ended the race in fourth place, which gave him 12 points and limited the damage inflicted by Hamilton’s win, but then collided with Lance Stroll after the chequered flag. The bad news for Ferrari is that, if his car now needs a gearbox change for Japan, which is quite possible, he will be handed a five place grid penalty for the Japanese Grand Prix.
- Max Verstappen celebrated his 20th birthday the day before the Malaysian Grand Prix, and he had even more to celebrate when he won the event for Red Bull. That was only the second win for the young Belgian from 55 starts, with the last one being in the 2016 Spanish Grand Prix, and it was well deserved. Verstappen had started in second place on the grid, and he had the speed to take advantage of Hamilton’s mechanical problems. Once he had passed the Brit, all he needed to do was stay in front, and he managed the task perfectly to pick up the maximum of 25 points for the race.
Formula 1 racing is seldom as predictable as bettors would like, but this season has been even more full of surprises than usual, and Ferrari’s inability to make the most of their strengths in the last few races is just one of them. Vettel will be keen to bounce back, just as he was in Malaysia, but if he receives a five place grid penalty then it will take some very fine driving to win in Japan, and the possibility doesn’t make him appealing for the outright win.
Verstappen was impressive in Malaysia, but form favourite Hamilton did nothing wrong, and his second-place finish was due to mechanics, not driver performance. If Mercedes can improve that side of things then Hamilton has a great chance to extend his lead even further in Japan. The big question there is if, and so for betting purposes we will tip the winning margin to be under five seconds in what we hope will be a close-run race.
Sports.net’s Top Tip
Under 5 Seconds
*Please note, odds may change as the race approaches.