Thu, Oct 5, 4:56pm by Staff Writer
Red Bull is in the midst of a Formula One resurgence and Daniel Ricciardo will look to capitalise when the Japanese Grand Prix gets underway this weekend.
Max Verstappen won the Malaysian GP last week and Ricciardo came third as the Red Bulls showed glimpses of their past glory.
The Australian has never reached the podium, but is confident he can break that drought on the Suzuka circuit Sunday.
“I have always loved Suzuka circuit, it’s tough for a driver and a proper racer’s track,” Ricciardo said this week. “The whole first sector is great fun and there is so much time to be gained there with the right set-up.”
With just five races left in the season, the Red Bulls may be performing but are out of the running for trophies and the money is still on the McLarens and Ferrari’s to take the chequered flag.
Hamilton leads Vettel in the drivers standings by 34 points with little chance of the other drivers challenging.
While Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel is understandably second favourite at $4, Verstappen on $4.50 and Ricciardo on $7 have leapfrogged the leader’s teammates in the betting.
Ferrari driver Kimi Raikkonen is back in fifth favourite at $13, with Valtteri Bottas of Mercedes paying $17.
Mercedes have taken pole position and won the last three Japanese races in a row, with Nico Rosberg topping the podium last year and Hamilton winning in 2014 and 2015.
Vettel, the 2013 winner, will be boosted by the fact that he has avoided a grid penalty after Ferrari confirmed it will not have to change his gearbox.
It was feared the unit had been irretrievably damaged during the German’s crash with Williams’ Lance Stroll at the end of the Malaysia GP.
Ricciardo’s Malaysian finish was his eighth podium of the season and is paying a tempting $1.80 to earn another in Japan.
Hamilton is on just $1.28 to finish in the top three, with Vettel on $1.35, Verstappen at $1.67, Raikkonen on $2.75 and Bottas on $3.
But regardless of Ricciardo’s enthusiasm, the Suzuka track should not be taken lightly.
Designed by Dutchman John Hugenholtz in the 1960s, the circuit’s corners are demanding, the track is narrow and mistakes are swiftly punished.
The weather can also be a factor in Japan, but after showers predicted for Saturday’s qualifying, the forecast for Sunday’s race is for sunshine and warm conditions.
The Japanese GP gets underway at 4pm Sunday AEST
Suggested Bet: Ricciardo to finish on the podium: $1.80
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