By Lee Dover | Japanese Grand Prix betting tips
The Suzuka Grand Prix has been overshadowed due to Lewis Hamilton finally deciding he has had enough of clashing with McLaren’s troublesome pit team. So he is relocating down the road to the Mercedes garage next season.
That decision has had a knock-on effect across the Formula One, with no less than four drivers affected by Hamilton putting pen to paper on a Mercedes contract – the Brit himself, his McLaren team-mate Jenson Button, soon-to-be retired Michael Schumacher and the newest McLaren driver Sergio Perez.
Here, the Paddy Power Blog looks at the chances of these four competitors after Sebastian Vettel secured pole position when the Japanese Grand Prix takes place on Sunday morning.
Hamilton not letting his world championship dream slide
Hamilton may have committed to Mercedes from 2013, but that does not mean he is going to shatter his chances of ending his stint with McLaren on a high note.
“I am still part of the team now so I want to focus on the good times now and the good times we will hopefully have in the next six races,” the 2008 world champion said to BBC Radio 5.
Hamilton has memories of achieving glory in Japan, winning the 2007 Japanese Grand Prix when it took place in Oyama, and is 7/4 favourite with Paddy Power in online betting to ramp up his title challenge this weekend.
Will Japan be on the Button?
For the first time in as long as we can remember, a changing of the guard in F1 does not involve Jenson Button. However, Hamilton’s move does mean that Button will have a new partner come March 2013.
As such, the 2009 world champion will no doubt be looking to prove to his team he can carry McLaren to further glory once Hamilton ups sticks and moves along the pit lane.
Button is 12/1 to win the Japanese Grand Prix, which may seem tasty when you factor in that the Brit took the chequered flag at Suzuka last season.
Those pesky lawmakers behind the scenes at F1 have thrown a spanner in the works though, by announcing that Button will face a five-place grid penalty in the race because McLaren needed to change his car’s gearbox.
Can Schumacher drive off into the sunset on a high note?
Hamilton’s switch to Mercedes soon led to Michael Schumacher announcing his second retirement from F1.
Mercedes team principal Ross Brawn regards the German as the “greatest Formula One driver” ever, while Mercedes-Benz Motorsport vice president Norbert Haug claims “Michael’s invaluable hard work has established the foundations for future success”.
The German, who is a six-time winner at Suzuka, will surely be looking to pay back such high compliments and is priced at an eye-catching 66/1 to make it lucky number seven on the circuit on Sunday morning.
Could golden boy Perez upset the big boys?
It can be argued that Sergio Perez has benefitted most from Hamilton’s move to Mercedes. One week, the 22-year old Mexican was enjoying an underdog’s life at Sauber and the next he is preparing to move up to the big leagues as McLaren’s newest driver.
Perez has captured plenty of headlines in F1 over the past two seasons to support his switch, having secured three podium finishes during this time.
Fans can take 25/1 for Perez to finally nab his first victory in the motorsport this weekend at Suzuka. The bet is worth considering, seeing as though the Mexican will be brimming with confidence following his fortunate turn of events.