Formula 1 Japan Grand Prix Prediction: Which team can manage the tires best?

Motorsport. Formula 1. April 07, 2024
Japan Grand Prix. Season 2024.
Circuit: Suzuka Circuit, Japan

Zlatko Ilijevski
07 Apr 2024
02:11
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Formula 1 Japan Grand Prix Prediction, Betting Tips & Odds │07 APRIL, 2024

The Japanese Grand Prix was moved from the usual autumn date to spring this year. Japan's early spring also brings cooler temperatures than what teams are used to have in this track, with average temperatures now hovering between 8°C and 13°C. The track is owned by Honda, still "home" to Red Bull, and with its demanding 5807 meters, it tests the talents of every driver. This requirement also applies to tires. Both in terms of wear due to the high level of roughness and abrasiveness of the asphalt, as well as through the forces and loads to which the components are exposed during the entire race.

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It was easy for Suzuka to acquire the status of a legendary track considering the schedule so far, many times the champion was decided there, and this spring schedule will reduce the number of key moments in the history of Formula 1. The most successful driver is still Michael Schumacher with six victories and as many as eight pole positions. As far as team successes are concerned, McLaren has the most wins (9), while Ferrari has the most pole positions (10). It's been a little over six months since Formula 1 was last in Japan, which allows us to compare the progress of all drivers and teams in twice as short a period compared to the usual one year - who has progressed the most and who the least in comparison in 2023? At the end of September last year, Verstappen won a convincing pole position at Suzuka with about six-tenths of a second ahead of Piastri in McLaren, and six months later the Dutchman is on top again, albeit with a much smaller advantage of 0.066 seconds ahead of teammate Perez. Perez is one of the drivers who improved the most because last year he was even 0.773 behind Verstappen in fifth place, and this year he was much better and faster. The top three was completed by McLaren's Lando Norris. The second starting row was completed by Carlos Sainz in Ferrari in fourth place. The third starting row was occupied by "Alpine fugitives" - fifth was Fernando Alonso in Aston Martin and sixth was Oscar Piastri in McLaren. The fourth starting row was completed by future teammates in Ferrari - seventh was Lewis Hamilton in Mercedes and eighth was Ferrari's Charles Leclerc. Rounding out the top ten was George Russell in Mercedes and Yuki Tsunoda in RB in tenth place.

Pirelli chose the hardest compound components: C1 as hard, C2 as medium and C3 as soft. This is the same selection that was used in Bahrain for the first race of the season. Two pit stops seem like a logical strategy given the aforementioned tire loads. However, cooler temperatures can mean a one-stop strategy becomes possible, especially for drivers who are gentle with their tyres. One stop also reduces the effectiveness of the undercut, which is usually very useful in Suzuka, even with the hard and medium compounds of the tires, which are preferred by the team for the race.

The evil announcement before the Australian Grand Prix did come true, Red Bull proved that they are still capable of human error. Not only did Max Verstappen have to give up at the very beginning of the race due to a stuck rear brake, but Sergio Perez also had a problem throughout the race after damaging his car. This Japanese GP should bring things back to "the way they were", especially considering Max's performance from last year's race. The Dutchman rationally accepted the mentioned mistake of the team, implying that there is no 100% reliability of such complex cars and that it was only a matter of time before the record-breaking streak of points would come to an end anyway. However, this is also a sign that Red Bull will no longer sleep peacefully. Ferrari has now proven that such gifts will easily be taken and used to the maximum effect.

OUR PREDICTION: Carlos Sainz in the top 3

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