Formula One punters turn their attention to Japan at the weekend, as the drivers get set to race at Suzuka International Racing Course on 8 October. The race follows on from a tense Grand Prix betting heat at the Malaysian GP, with plenty of talking points.
Not least, we saw a decidedly volatile Lewis Hamilton vent his frustration at the fragility of a Mercedes car that has to remain in one piece as the drivers head into the last five races of the the already volatile 2017 season.
With Hamilton stretching his lead in the Drivers Championship, he's still the hot pick for Japan and the outright title. But while favourite backers can rely on the Brit for a likely win, there are plenty of value options in the win, pole position and podium finish markets with the online bookies!
The Janis Joplin song goes: “Oh Lord, won't you buy me a Mercedes Benz? My friends all drive Porsches, I must make amends.” In recent times, you get the distinct impression that Lewis Hamilton probably wishes he was driving a Porche, since he's publicly stated that the Merc is giving him nightmares.
The question for F1 bets is whether there are really any major issues with the car, or whether the concerns are just a bit of hot air. According to team Mercedes, that's an apt phrase, given Hamilton lost speed in Malaysia thanks to an over-heating tyre.
What we do know is that the car is widely considered to be very average on this season's circuit and does have more than a few technical problems. It cost Hamilton the win in Malaysia, with the Brit having to settle for second spot.
However, despite moans and groans from Hamilton, it hasn't stopped him winning seven out of 15 of this year's Grand Prix's and four of the last six. Given odds of 6/4 for the win in online Grand Prix betting markets, he looks a very fairly priced favourite.
The Brit's only conceivable title challenger remains Germany's Sebastian Vettell, who's backable at 3/1 to win at the weekend in Japan. The usually consistent German has been struggling in recent weeks, though, with a distinct lack of 'durch von technik' for Team Ferrari.
Having taken the Hungarian Grand Prix in July, Vettell has since finished second, third and unplaced twice. In Malaysia things went from bad to worse, having crashed into Lance Stroll and potentially damaged a new gearbox.
Vettell may be hit with a grid penalty for the incident, which would massively damage his chances of a win. Furthermore, GP rules mean a new gearbox must complete six races before being changed, so any damage would lead to grim prospects for backers of the German in the Japanese GP.
Another positive for backers of the Mercedes team and something else that questions the validity of concerns over the squad's car, is the performances of Hamilton's teammate this season, Finnish driver Valtteri Bottas.
Bottas has won two races, sitting behind only Hamilton on seven and Sebastian Vettell on four. He's backable at odds of 16/1 with William Hill to win the Japanese GP, which looks a value price given the shorter odds of Max Verstappen and Daniel Ricciardo (the other two drivers with any F1 wins this season).
This season's F1 pole positions have been unsurprisingly dominated by Lewis Hamilton and Sebastian Vettel – with the Brit claiming nine and Vettel three. Hamilton has taken four of the last six poles and is priced accordingly at 10/11. In fairness to Vettel, he has been pushing hard for pole in the last few races, taking the other two during the same period.
Value seekers will again be looking to Hamilton's teammate, Valtteri Bottas, who has twice taken pole and is backable at 10/1 with bet365. Neither Daniel Ricciardo or Max Verstappen (6/1 and 8/1 respectively) have won pole this season, making them look poor value compared to a driver who has two to his name.
When it comes to the Grand Prix podium ahead of the Japanese Grand Prix, smart punters can swerve the cramped odds on Hamilton and Vettel and look at two very solid drivers who have been models of consistency throughout the campaign – namely Daniel Ricciardo and Bottas.
Ricciardo has made the podium in eight races, while Bottas trumps him with an excellent ten champagne moments. The pair are backable with William Hill at 5/6 and 2/1 respectively. Online bookmakers have priced Max Verstappen at an unappealing 4/7 to make the top three, based entirely on his surprising win in Malaysia.
The Red Bull driver has only made the podium twice this season, with the first time being at the Chinese GP back in April. There are doubts about him backing up the feat, given he failed to make the podium following his Japanese third place and has struggled for much success in 2017.
Despite rumours of unrest in the Mercedes team, the fact remains that Lewis Hamilton is over 30 points clear in the Drivers Championship. Disregarding tyre issues in Malaysia, the Brit looks a strong favourite to land another victory in Japan, especially given the doubts about Vettel's potentially damaged gearbox and the risk of penalty.
While Hamilton looks a winner for favourite backers, it's Bottas, the team's second driver, who could offer real value in the win, pole and podium markets. If you think you;re ready to jump straight into the latest markets and odds for the Japanese Grand Prix 2017, simply head over to William Hill today and start betting!
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