Motorsport: Typhoon set to deliver wet and wild Japanese GP

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Updated: October 4, 2014
Heavy rainfall looks set to impact this afternoon's running of the Japanese Grand Prix

Heavy rainfall looks set to impact this afternoon’s running of the Japanese Grand Prix

2014 Formula 1 featuring betting preview – Japanese Grand Prix: Suzuka, Japan; Sunday, October 4, 5pm – preview by Adam Gibbins

This year’s championship is far from decided but the talk in recent days has been all about 2015. Reigning world champion Sebastian Vettel will move to Ferrari for 2015 to fill the seat set to be vacated by Fernando Alonso. The Spaniard appears increasingly likely to return to McLaren to lead the team in its first season with returning engine partner Honda. But on the track all eyes will once again be on the battle between Mercedes teammates Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg in the chase for the 2014 drivers’ championship. With only five races left including today’s Japanese Grand Prix every point is going to count. Hamilton made it two wins in a row last time out under the lights of Singapore, edging in front of title rival Rosberg to a three-point lead in the championship battle. Rosberg had a night to forget after retiring mid-race with technical issues.

With Mercedes continuing to dominate qualifying in Japan the title race could well come down to the final GP of the year in Abu Dhabi, especially considering the double points haul on offer for the season-ending event. The Suzuka circuit is a classic F1 layout remaining largely unaltered since its construction in the 1960’s. An unusual figure-eight layout, sweeping fast corners provide a real challenge to the drivers, with tyres suffering high wear due to the lateral loads generated through the constant cornering. The first two corners have a high accident rate, with Suzuka being the second most likely track to feature a first lap retirement after Melbourne’s Albert Park layout. The biggest variable for this weekend will be weather. October marks the end of typhoon season in Japan, and the race has been regularly affected by wet weather in the past.

Typhoon Phanfone, a category 4 typhoon expected to feature winds in the region of 150 km/h, was due to hit the Suzuka area overnight with a real possibility that the race could be delayed or cancelled. From a betting perspective, this means that if the race is started under safety car conditions and remains that way for the minimum required distance, pole man Rosberg will be guaranteed the win, followed by Hamilton and the brilliant Valtteri Bottas. While the teams offered to begin the race four hours earlier at 11am, the FIA (in their wisdom) declined with the race to commence at the scheduled time, leaving only a two and half hour window until sunset to complete the minimum race distance. The race win market is business as usual with very similar odds for Hamilton and Rosberg as per the Singapore round two weeks ago.

Hamilton is around $2 with Rosberg a slightly more appealing $2.20, then it’s double-digit odds for the rest of the field. With Suzuka being a more demanding track than Singapore on power, I’m expecting the other Mercedes-powered teams to follow their silver leaders, with Williams being the class of the bunch. Historically drivers that have done well at the high speed Monza circuit have tended to also do well in Japan a few weeks later, with Felipe Massa running a strong third behind the Mercedes factory team in Italy. While there’s no certainty the 2014 running of the Japanese Grand Prix will go ahead, if the race does start it’s going to be wet. Look to drivers like Jenson Button with a history of strong wet weather results to shine over wet track duffers like Kimi Raikkonen and Sergio Perez.

 

Confirmed bets

Felipe Massa top 3 (one unit @ $4) – the popular Williams team have genuine pace this year, consolidating their status as the second best team in the competition in the latter half of the season. Another excellent qualifying result for both of the Martini-liveried cars ensures the team is in for a potential podium result, with Massa having the strongest recent form on high-speed circuits.

Jenson Button top 6 (one unit @ $2.60) – engaged to marry a local and after spending years racing in Japan, Button has a wealth of local track knowledge, including racing in the sort of deluge that looks likely today. While I’m skeptical we’ll even see a completed Japanese Grand Prix, if the race does go ahead expect the web-footed Brit to pick up at least a couple of positions in the spray.

 

Most recent results: 1-1, +1.25 units; overall record: 10-13, -1.25 units

Sebastian Vettel top 3 (one unit @ $2.75) WIN (2nd)

Daniel Ricciardo fastest lap (0.5 units @ $8.00) LOSE (Hamilton)

• Selections are listed in three categories – 1) Suggested (likely bet but yet to be finalised); 2) Confirmed (locked in at the price listed); and 3) Leans (tips, but not recommended bets); all times quoted are Australian Eastern Daylight Time (AEDT); prices with thanks to Unibet (except where markets are not available), correct at time of publication. Results/comments on today’s games/races will follow in the next post.

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