Max can chase home title rivals in Suzuka
Sunday, 6am, Sky F1
AS we predicted here, team orders kicked in for Mercedes last week to deny Valtteri Bottas a deserved win in the Russian Grand Prix.
We collected on our 7-2 forecast prediction and the win bet on Lewis Hamilton and it shows the perils of backing a No.2 when the premier driver is fighting for the title.
Despite the Brit saying he was not happy with being allowed to pass Bottas, he was happy enough to pocket the points with challenger Sebastian Vettel stuck in third place.
That has put Hamilton 50 points ahead and means he can fail to win another race this term and still take the title with a steady run of podiums.
But that won’t happen as Lewis has put his desire to keep winning on record and he can manage it again in Japan.
Hamilton has clocked up four wins in Suzuka — the same tally as Vettel.
It’s almost certain that one of them will add to their total and it’s hard to see beyond the title leader with some 5-6 on offer. The German is a general 2-1 shot while Bottas is 9s if you shop around.
He is likely to be the one psychologically affected by having to move aside in Sochi and knows second is the best he can do barring accidents for Hamilton.
That could see him lose focus and heart, allowing another driver to make the podium.
That could well be Max Verstappen. He was fifth in Russia and has a good record here, having been second in the past two seasons.
He could reach that spot again but is likely to settle for third behind the Mercedes and Ferrari at 9-4 with Sportingbet.
Max speed: Verstappen does well in Suzuka