Japanese GP predictions: Lewis can continue solid season with podium
- Lewis Hamilton has finished all bar one race this season in the top six
- Alex Albon has finished seven of the last eight races in the top 11
- Recommended bets:
- Lewis Hamilton to finish on the podium
- Alex Albon to finish in the points
European fans will have to set their alarms to catch the race, but the Japanese Grand Prix is one of the most popular on the calendar.
The Suzuka circuit is arranged in a unique figure-of-eight configuration and the fans who flock to the track are some of the most fervent in the world, lending a superb atmosphere.
For many years, Suzuka hosted the final round of the season, and it has witnessed some of the most celebrated, and some of the more infamous, moments in Formula 1 history.
Hamilton getting closer to ending longest winless run
Lewis Hamilton will have particularly enjoyed overtaking runaway world championship leader Max Verstappen on his way to third place in last weekend's Singapore Grand Prix.
The pair fought an epic duel for the 2021 title, but Verstappen has been virtually untouchable since, dominating last season and holding a 151-point lead in the standings this year.
The Red Bull driver went to Singapore looking to extend his record 10-race winning sequence, but it all went wrong as he and the team struggled to dial the car into the circuit.
It is highly likely that normal service will be resumed this week, but it will be interesting to see how Red Bull respond to that setback and you can be sure Hamilton will be poised to pounce should they slip up again.
Ferrari, in the form of Carlos Sainz, were the ones to break Red Bull's run of 15 race wins going back to last season, but Hamilton crossed the line just 1.3 seconds behind in third, and having bagged the extra point for fastest lap.
Suzuka's flowing curves should suit the Mercedes, which looks after its tyres well, better than the Ferrari, and Hamilton will have high hopes of getting closest to the Red Bulls, particularly if he can up his game in qualifying.
Hamilton, 103 times a race winner, is closing in on two years since his last victory but at least the signs are there that he is still a driver of the highest calibre.
Albon can continue to impress
Alex Albon has spearheaded Williams' resurgence this season and the Thai-British driver was frustrated not to register a third consecutive points finish in Singapore.
That track was not expected to suit Williams, but thanks to a fine strategy and some superb driving, Albon found himself in the top 10 with a handful of laps to go.
Unfortunately, a recovering Sergio Perez made an overly aggressive passing move, clashing with Albon and dropping him down the order.
Suzuka makes similar demands on a car to Silverstone, where Albon was strong all weekend.
With four points finishes and three 11th-place finishes in his last eight outings, Albon should be pushing for the top 10 again.