Max can chase home ti­tle ri­vals in Suzuka

Sun­day, 6am, Sky F1

The Racing Paper - - Golf Formula One - by Mike Francis

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

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