By Danny Carrington
Last Updated: 12th October 2019
Typhoon Hagibis has had a severe impact on the Rugby World Cup, but the F1 gods will be hoping it has no further impact on this Sunday’s Japanese Grand Prix at Suzuka, with qualifying already postponed until the morning of the race due to the extreme weather conditions.
Victory and Lewis Hamilton will all but secure a sixth world title, while Mercedes could also seal a sixth successive constructors’ title. Can anyone stop them in Japan? We preview this weekend’s race.
Hamilton targeting three on the spin
Hamilton had failed to win the previous three Grand Prix races before his Russia success last time out, and even he would admit he was a tad fortunate to secure the victory in Sochi.
The virtual safety car played its part in his Russian Grand Prix win, as Ferrari and Sebastian Vettel squabbled over team orders.
Team-mate Valtteri Bottas followed Hamilton home for their first one-two since the British Grand Prix back in July, and with Mercedes’ supremacy in Japan – winning at the circuit for the last five years – it is hard to see past another victory for the Silver Arrows.
Hamilton is the 10/11 favourite to win at Suzuka for the third year in a row, and victory would see him draw level with Michael Schumacher’s record of six race wins in Japan.
Leclerc the danger for Hamilton
Team orders and virtual safety car aside, Charles Leclerc would have won last time out in Russia.
The 21-year-old is in the form of his life and if he can keep that up this weekend then it will be his fifth successive pole since the Belgian Grand Prix back in September.
The one thing not in favour of the Scuderia ahead of this weekend is their lack of success at the track. If either Leclerc or Vettel take the win, it will be Ferrari’s first triumph at Suzuka since back in 2004 when Michael Schumacher took the chequered flag.
Leclerc is 4/1 to win at Suzuka and it would not be a surprise if the Monegasque driver was to pull it off.
Pole is the key
At the risk of pointing out the obvious, whoever sits on pole following qualifying at Suzuka will hold all the aces come the time of Sunday’s main event.
Leclerc’s recent run points to him, and he’s 5/2 – behind 5/4 favourite Hamilton – to take pole.
He could well pull off his third victory from pole position this season, following up on his successes in Belgium and Italy, and the omens look good for whoever does occupy pole at Suzuka, as the last three races in Japan have all been won by the man sitting on pole.