The time has finally come, after a long two year wait F1 is finally going back to race at the legendary Suzuka Circuit for the Japanese Grand Prix. I’m very excited for this as Suzuka is probably my favorite track probably because of its technicalities and unique figure of eight layout, being the only one of its kind on the F1 calendar. Suzuka is a very tricky old school circuit demanding high levels of focus and consistency from the drivers. The Japanese Grand Prix has seen many controversial championship deciders in the past, including the now famous decider between Senna and Prost way back in 88 and 89, Senna and Mansel in 91, 94 between Hill and Schumacher, the list goes on and on and so as you can imagine, some drivers rock up to Suzuka with quite a bit of added pressure on their shoulders. It’s no different for this weekend and the title could be decided at the Japanese Grand Prix. Who’s your money on? Make sure you’re using only the best F1 betting sites to place your bets!
I’m sure Suzuka and the Japanese Grand Prix hold some fond memories in Max Verstappen’s mind. If you recall back to 2014 this is where the Dutchman made his Formula 1 debut driving for Torro Rosso at the tender age of 17 years. Max will head into this weekend with two things on his mind: Being the quickest man on track and winning the Japanese Grand Prix as that is exactly what he needs to do in order to guarantee his second world championship, win the race with the fastest lap. As it stands only Verstappen, Leclerc and Perez can win the championship with the favorite of course being Verstappen. However, If Verstappen fails to get the fastest lap but still wins, his championship rival Charles Leclerc must finish second in order to keep his title chances alive. Similarly the winner of the Singapore GP Sergio Perez must finish ahead of Max if he wants to keep fighting for a potential championship win. So that means we’re heading to Suzuka with a three-way battle, but who’s gonna come out on top?
It’s without a doubt that Max has the fastest car and he is the fastest man during race day and he really has to prove that to everyone this weekend. As mentioned earlier the Dutchman must win the race with the fastest lap which is no easy task considering Charles is very strong over one lap. Tactics and strategy will of course play a huge part as one of his options would be to pull away and pit for a new set of softs to get the fastest lap towards the end of the Grand Prix but the Red Bull has been heavily developed earlier on in the season which means the other teams have now caught up. Max has also never won the Japanese Grand Prix, his best result was second both in 2016 and 2017.
Charles must either win the Japanese Grand Prix or finish second without Max getting the fastest lap to keep the title fight alive between the two. Thankfully for Charles the Ferrari is pretty much head to head with the Red Bull in terms of pace and crucially, Charles can also rely on his team mate Carlos Sainz to help him. The Spaniard has no chances of winning the world championship and will be using his skill and experience to achieve the best possible result for his team and for his teammate. This can upset the two Red Bulls who are in contention with each other. Charles raced in Japan twice, in 2019 with a disastrous and controversial start and questionable Ferrari strategy which saw him finish 6th after starting second on the grid. In 2018 he retired from the race entirely on lap 38 after suffering mechanical issues.
Sergio put on an impressive performance at the Singapore GP and made it possible for him to carry on his title contention hopes to Japan. Out of the three title contenders, Sergio has the toughest job. Not only must he beat Charles but he must beat his ruthless team mate Max to the finish line, not an easy feat by any means. Although he will carry on his winning momentum, he needs to focus and pull out something exceptional if he wants to achieve this task. The Mexican is also the most experienced of the three, having raced at Suzuka nine times prior, and even though he finished within the points five times, he never finished higher than 7th. This time round he has a highly competitive car and I think he also has remarkable race craft when it comes down to race day, definitely the underdog.
The drivers taking part in the Japanese Grand Prix will lap the 5.8km (3.6 miles) Suzuka circuit 53 times. The track features successive ‘S’ curves, high speed corners, long straights and heavy braking zones, which means that it’s all about the cars’ setup. F1 hasn’t raced here for the last two years no thanks to the Covid-19 pandemic, and whilst the teams and drivers will be delighted to return they must find the right set up with the new machines, new regulations and new tyres. A high downforce package is required for Suzuka, one which doesn’t compromise the cars on the long straights. This is something that McLaren didn’t get right last time round at the Belgian GP which is a similar track in terms of downforce requirements. However, their recent performance and double points finish in Singapore might give them a boost. If you need a boost with your betting odds why not check out our odds betting comparison page for the best F1 betting odds!
Mercedes will also be around to spoil the party, they’re still looking for that elusive win which fell away from them in Singapore, even though they were as close as ever. So it’s just a matter of time until one of the two Mercedes drivers takes the top step on the podium. The Mercs will be looking to upset the championship title though as on more than one occasion they’ve managed to clinch the fastest lap of the race which will no doubt implicate things up front. In Belgium they looked competitive so don’t discount their success in Japan. There’s definitely some ‘beef’ between Mercedes and Red Bull, especially after Abu Dhabi 2021. I think they will most definitely try to get themselves involved as much as possible to upset Max’s championship battle and they’re also aiming to secure second place in the constructors championship so expect them to make a presence this weekend.
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