Hamilton Showing Good Form In Japan
Once again the Mercedes drivers were in a class of their own, this time in the build up to the Japanese Grand Prix. Lewis Hamilton got the edge over Nico Rosberg in the second practice, managing to be 0.24 seconds ahead of him. The two drivers though were clear of all of their other rials by at least a second, indicating the gulf in class between these two and everyone else. They may be team-mates but Hamilton and Rosberg are also title challengers and they will be gunning for a win in Japan. In third place at the second practice was Valtteri Bottas of Williams, fourth was Jenson Button from McLaren and Sebastian Vettel of Red Bull was fourth. Ferrari took sixth and seventh with Kimi Raikkonen and Fernando Alonso.
In the race for the title, Hamilton has a three point lead so there is going to be a lot riding on this weekend. The fact that the two drivers were very evenly matched yet so far ahead of their opponents suggests that the race is going to be another tight one. Both of the drivers were well ahead of their rivers on the single-lap pace and in the race simulation, where heavier fuel was used.
There has been a swing towards Hamilton in recent races and while he will be looking to continue this at the weekend, there is no guarantee of the outcome. At one stage, Hamilton was 29 points behind but two wins in two races, coupled to the fact that Rosberg retired two weeks ago in Singapore now sees Hamilton leading from the front. With the track at Suzuka deemed to be one of the more challenging circuits in the Formula One calendar, it is likely that there will be a lot of excitement and tension involved this weekend as well. There was a brief shower in the final few minutes of the practice session, which didn’t have much of an impact but there are some concerns about the weather playing a part this weekend.
The weather is likely to have an impact
One of the issues is the fact that while qualifying is likely to be dry, it is believe that the race is going to be a wet affair and there may even be a typhoon hitting Japan at that time! The Phanfone Typhoon is expected to hit Japan on Monday but the strong winds and heavy rain that precede the typhoon are expected to arrive on Sunday. There are currently talks taking place about moving the start time of the race, which is something to bear in mind. At the moment, the race is still going ahead at 3pm local time, which is 7am in the UK, but this may still be moved. If you tend to be the kind of person that likes to place a last minute bet on a race, make sure that you stay in touch with the time of the race. The Suzuka circuit is challenging enough for many drivers without the beginning of a typhoon playing havoc with the race so this may be a race that is very difficult to call. Clearly the Mercedes duo is head and shoulders above everyone else in Formula One at the moment but the weather could be the great leveller.
If you are the sort of punter that likes to look for upsets or uncertain elements causing an impact on a race, Sunday in Japan could be the race for you. Mercedes have had to suffer more than their fair share of storms this season, so it is not as though there is anything new or out of the blue with what is coming in Japan but it may be that showing a touch of caution and getting through the race while staying in touch will be the order of the day. Then again, with a title race that is looking as though it will go to the wire, a victory on a challenging day could make all the difference.