Japanese Grand Prix

Japanese Grand Prix 2019 Preview

Lewis Hamilton

Lewis Hamilton

We have officially entered the business end of the 2019 Formula One campaign. Five-time world champion Lewis Hamilton is 73 points clear of Mercedes teammate Valtteri Bottas at the top of the Drivers’ Championship standings and a win here will more or less secure the title with just four races to follow after Sunday’s Grand Prix.

Hamilton is on the verge of making history and the chances are he will move one step closer to Michael Schumacher’s tally of seven Formula One world titles. The British driver will go down as one of the best drivers of all-time, if not THE best. Expect Hamilton to surpass Schumacher’s record of Grand Prix wins next year but the title remains his top priority.

Plenty of punters will be expecting the World Championship leader to emerge victorious this weekend. Hamilton ticks all the right boxes to triumph in Suzuka, particularly as he has four Japanese Grand Prix triumphs in the last five years. According to 888Sport’s latest odds, the British driver is 6/4 to finish top of the podium in Japan and he will then be within touching distance of a sixth world title.

Mercedes have won the last five races at Suzuka and it would take a brave man to oppose Hamilton and Bottas this weekend. With nine Grand Prix wins in 2019, Hamilton has been in a league of his own but Bottas remains his closest rival to the title. The Mercedes number two is likely to be right in the mix for supremacy on Sunday and Hamilton will be wary of yet another battle.

Bottas has won just two Grand Prix events this year – the first on the opening weekend of the season in Australia and his most recent triumph in Baku, Azerbaijan. Level with Charles Leclerc and Max Verstappen in terms of race wins in 2019, Bottas has once again been the perfect partner to Hamilton at Mercedes – happy to play second fiddle but chipping in with the odd win here and there.

If everything goes to plan for Mercedes, another 1-2 at Suzuka beckons. With Hamilton and Bottas both in supreme form, Formula One fans may be treated to a Mercedes masterclass this weekend and plenty of punters will be backing the World Championship leaders to get the job done. Betfred are offering 8/13 for either Mercedes driver to win in Suzuka – which is a decent price given their dominance in 2019.

Leclerc stormed up the standings following the mid-season break but Ferrari have struggled to cope with Mercedes in recent races. With two Grand Prix triumphs in 2019, Leclerc has more victories than teammate Sebastian Vettel and that will not sit well with the four-time world champion. An intense rivalry is brewing at Ferrari and we could see both men push themselves to the limit this weekend.

Leclerc is an obvious choice if you are looking past the Mercedes drivers. He is one of the youngest men on the track but he has the maturity of a seasoned veteran – it is surely only a matter of time until he wins a World Championship of his own. Expecting Leclerc to get close to Hamilton in 2019 would be unfair but he can be Ferrari’s beacon of hope for the future.

charles leclerc

Charles Leclerc

The 21-year-old has finished on the podium in each of his previous four Grand Prix races and it would take a brave man to back against Leclerc securing another top three finish. The Japanese Grand Prix hasn’t been the kindest race to Ferrari over the years but Leclerc is a man on a mission and he will be quietly confident of finishing on the podium. 4/11 isn’t the best price in the world but Sporting Bet punters may be tempted.

Verstappen deserves a mention in this discussion – particularly when talking about future world champions. The young Dutchman has been touted as the brightest talent in Formula One but he now has a close rival in Leclerc. Motorsport fans will be hoping to see both men enjoy a long and successful future in the sport and we could be set for lots of excitement in 2019 and beyond.

When you’re looking for a fastest lap tip, Verstappen is a driver worth considering. At the time of writing, Betfair are going 9/2 for the Red Bull Racing star to record the quickest lap time during Sunday’s Japanese Grand Prix and that could turn out to be a huge price if the race unfolds in a favourable way. There’s no doubting Verstappen’s natural ability but can he fulfil his potential in this Red Bull vehicle?

One of the most eagerly anticipated races on the calendar, the Japanese Grand Prix attracts Formula One fans from all over the world – and this weekend’s race will be no different. If the weather doesn’t get the better of Suzuka, an entertaining race awaits and we could see another Grand Prix that goes down to the wire. Expect the unexpected in Japan; there is a rich history of unpredictable results at the famous Suzuka circuit.

The Formula One world title has been decided at Suzuka on 11 separate occasions but that cannot be the case in 2019. Instead, Hamilton can assert his status as the dominant figure in the sport and the Mercedes star can take a huge step towards world title number six. A win for Hamilton will mean closest rival Valtteri Bottas must win the four remaining races whilst hoping Hamilton finishes outside of the points.

For Hamilton, the hard work has been done – hopefully he can sit back and enjoy the 2019 Japanese Grand Prix. With weather conditions potentially impacting Sunday’s race, anything can happen but the five-time world champion is primed to make a statement here. Take the 6/4 for Hamilton to top the Suzuka podium for the sixth time in his illustrious career.

RACE WINNER: Lewis Hamilton (6/4 with 888Sport)

PODIUM FINISH: Charles Leclerc (4/11 with Sporting Bet)

FASTEST LAP: Max Verstappen (9/2 with Sporting Bet)

About Japanese GP

History

The inaugural Formula One Japanese Grand Prix took place in 1976 and it would be fair to state that the weekend was an instant hit with the locals.

Since then, Japan has hosted one of the Grand Prix races in most Formula One campaigns – with the exception of a nine-year stretch in the late 1970s and mid-1980s.

The information is all there if you want to take a look at the history books when placing a bet on the 2019 Japanese Grand Prix.

From the most successful teams in the history of this great race to the fastest lap set by a driver last year, there is lots to consider ahead of what is usually one of the biggest races of the campaign.

Over 137,000 fans attended last year’s Japanese Grand Prix and organisers will be crossing fingers and toes with regards to the weather ahead of the 2019 race.

With adverse weather conditions predicted, the Japanese Grand Prix could be under threat – though organisers will do everything in their power to ensure safety standards are met.

Winners

Michael Schumacher

Michael Schumacher

Michael Schumacher has six Japanese Grand Prix wins to his name and Mercedes star Lewis Hamilton can move level with the German icon this weekend.

Hamilton has won four of the last five Japanese Grand Prix races, with Nico Rosberg preventing five in a row after victory in 2016. Expect the British driver to be prominent on Sunday afternoon.

Schumacher and Hamilton may have dominated individually but Ferrari and Mercedes have a few wins to find to draw level with McLaren. However, both teams are capable of romping to victory in this weekend’s big event.

With nine race victories – most recently back in 2011 – McLaren are the most successful team in Japanese Grand Prix history but punters will be expecting Mercedes to end the weekend with a sixth win in the race.

By the same token, Sebastien Vettel can move level with Hamilton on five Japanese Grand Prix triumphs in 2019. Ferrari have a reasonable record in the Japanese Grand Prix but it has been some time since their last win at Suzuka.

It would take a brave man to back against the German given Ferrari’s revival in recent weeks and Formula One fans will be expecting a legitimate bid for supremacy in this weekend’s race. Watch this space, Vettel is the dark horse and one to watch.

Fastest Lap

Lewis Hamilton’s fastest qualifying lap in 2017 was slightly quicker than his in 2018 – but we should expect 2019 to be even faster. In 2017, Hamilton set a blistering 1:27:319 to secure pole position on the grid and he will be hoping to secure a place on the front row again this year. Based on his history at Suzuka, it would be foolish to back against him.

Meanwhile, Vettel set the fastest lap during last year’s Grand Prix – romping to a 1:32:318 in a frenetic finale. The Ferrari driver could only finish ninth but that was a decent effort after a number of mishaps during the race. The Japanese Grand Prix is one of Formula One’s more unpredictable races and weather conditions will play a big part in the outcome.

Interesting Facts

japanese circuitWe are yet to see a home winner at the Japanese Grand Prix in the Formula One era. Two Japanese drivers have managed to finish on the podium, with Aguri Suzuku finishing third in 1990 and Kamui Kobayashi replicating that feat in 2012.

Suzuka is just one of three tracks in Japan to host a Formula One race. In 1994 and 1995, the Okayama International Circuit hosted the Pacific Grand Prix – which shows how versatile Japan is as a nation to motorsport. To this day, Formula One remains very high up on the list of popular sports in Japan.

Traditionally, Japan has been a regular feature at the end of the Formula One campaign and there have been 11 occasions where a World Champion has been crowned at Suzuka. That won’t be happening this year but Hamilton might not have to wait too much longer if the 2019 Japanese Grand Prix goes to plan.

The Future

Formula One bosses announced in 2018 that the Japanese Grand Prix was going to stay on the World Championship calendar until 2021 at the earliest. It is one of the most popular races in motorsport and plenty of punters will be looking forward to watching this week’s race – weather providing of course with a major typhoon heading for Japan.

Fingers crossed an exciting and safe race at Suzuka this weekend. Suzuka will have better weather conditions in the coming years but there’s nothing the drivers can do about that this weekend. Expect the unexpected in Japan and let’s just hope for an entertaining race with no major incidents.