Skip to content

MotorSportsTalk’s predictions: Japanese GP

Oct 10, 2013, 4:00 PM EST

AUTO-PRIX-JPN-F1 Getty Images

Following Sebastian Vettel’s fourth consecutive victory in Korea last weekend, you would be forgiven for thinking that the writing team at NBC have had it pretty easy in recent weeks. In fact, three of the four writers managed to correctly predict that the German driver would win the Korean Grand Prix (and the selection of Max Chilton was nothing more than a thinly-veiled snub), but can Seb make it five-in-a-row in Japan? It would be the first time in his career that he has achieved this feat, proving that for all of his records, he still has plenty more to set.

Tony DiZinno (@tonydizinno)

Race winner: Sebastian Vettel. Drive for five straight wins could see the unstoppable German lock up the title this weekend. Gotta keep picking him until he is dethroned.

Surprising finish: Adrian Sutil. Has made it in the bottom of the points two of the last four races and should thrive on a circuit he knows well. His only Japanese GP points were the first of his career in Fuji 2007; I’ll say he gets his first Suzuka scored on Sunday.

Most to prove: Max Chilton. If for no other reason than it would be a huge surprise to see him outqualify Bianchi on a true driver’s track, and with Bianchi having got his Marussia deal already wrapped for next year, time for the unheralded Briton to do something memorable in an otherwise forgettable rookie season.

Christopher Estrada (@estradawriting)

Race winner: Sebastian Vettel. Will the champagne party finally begin for the soon-to-be four-time World Champion? Barring a engine/mechanical disaster, I’m not expecting Fernando Alonso to finish in the back so perhaps the party will be put on hold for now. Still, I reckon Vettel will be on the top step again this weekend.

Surprising finish: Nico Hulkenberg. The Hulk turned a lot of heads at Korea with his strong fourth-place finish for Sauber, which hasn’t had a relatively great year. I’m interested to see what he’ll do for an encore and wouldn’t be surprised if he came through again.

Most to prove: Esteban Gutierrez. With Hulkenberg’s improved pace, his Mexican teammate needs to start breaking into the points. He missed out by one spot at Korea, but if he can qualify well this weekend, he should be on target to finally hit the board in 2013 (he’s one of six competitors that have not scored yet).

Luke Smith (@LukeSmithF1)

Race winner: Sebastian Vettel. Four straight wins, three wins in four years at Suzuka, calls it his ‘favorite’ circuit, RB9 is suited to the track, gunning for a fourth straight title… need I say any more? On talent and pace alone, there is no chance of Seb losing this one.

Surprising finish: Jenson Button. JB has struggled all season thanks to the pace of the McLaren MP4-28, but Suzuka has treated him well over the years. A few retirements here and there and the Briton could yet return to the top five in Japan.

Most to prove: Paul di Resta. Paul’s luck of late has been lacking to say the least. Five straight retirements and no points since June means that he needs a good result in Suzuka to prove that he still has what it takes to compete in F1.

Keith Collantine (@keithcollantine)

Race winner: Sebastian Vettel. He owns Suzuka. You can’t argue with four poles, three wins and a championship in four many years. I expect Mercedes will be closer than they were in Korea, and could even break his stranglehold on pole position, but the race will be his.

Surprising finish: Mark Webber. His run of misfortune simply has to come to an end soon. He always a bit handy around ‘proper’ tracks like Suzuka, and this is the last time he’ll get to play on this fabulous track for a while as the World Endurance Championship races at Fuji.

Most to prove: Esteban Gutierrez. Now that Nico Hulkenberg is bringing home serious points for Sauber, Gutierrez must at the very least start raking in the lower points finishes.

Latest Posts
  1. Long: Journey for Wendell Scott’s family ends with a kiss (VIDEO)

    Jan 31, 2015, 12:23 AM EST

    Credit: ISC Archives Credit: ISC Archives

    Wendell Scott’s induction to the NASCAR Hall of Fame completed a long journey for his family.

  2. WATCH LIVE: NASCAR Gridiron Challenge pres. by Toyota at 10 p.m. ET

    Jan 30, 2015, 9:30 PM EST

    NASCARGridiron

    CLICK HERE for stream links to the special event involving former NFL greats and NASCAR drivers.

  3. NASCAR AMERICA: Wendell Scott Jr. – My father knew he would be recognized one day (VIDEO)

    Jan 30, 2015, 7:00 PM EST

    Credit: ISC Archives Credit: ISC Archives

    The son of NASCAR’s first African-American winner of a premier series race talks with NASCAR AMERICA’s Marty Snider about his father’s accomplishments.

  4. WATCH LIVE: NASCAR Hall of Fame special and induction ceremony at 7 p.m. ET

    Jan 30, 2015, 6:30 PM EST

    NASCAR Hall of Fame Grand Opening Getty Images

    CLICK HERE for stream links to tonight’s NBCSN coverage of the NASCAR Hall of Fame’s Class of 2015 Induction Ceremony in Charlotte, N.C.

  5. NASCAR AMERICA: 1-on-1 with the King – and Hall of Famer – Richard Petty (VIDEO)

    Jan 30, 2015, 6:15 PM EST

    (Matt Sullivan/Getty Images) Getty Images

    Petty, a member of the NASCAR Hall of Fame’s inaugural class of inductees, speaks with NASCAR AMERICA’s Kelli Stavast before tonight’s Class of 2015 ceremonies.

  6. A day later, Brazil Indy cancellation leaves more questions than answers

    Jan 30, 2015, 6:00 PM EST

    Honda Grand Prix Of St. Petersburg - Day 3 Getty Images

    Brasilia cancellation provides the latest chapter in the roller coaster ride that has been IndyCar’s international dalliance.

  7. Bowman to drive No. 7 car for Tommy Baldwin Racing

    Jan 30, 2015, 4:05 PM EST

    Bank of America 500 - Qualifying Bank of America 500 - Qualifying

    Alex Bowman joins Tommy Baldwin Racing for the 2015 season, replacing Michael Annett, who left for a ride at Scott Motorsports.

  8. WATCH LIVE: NASCAR AMERICA from the Hall of Fame red carpet at 4:30 p.m. ET

    Jan 30, 2015, 4:00 PM EST

    nascar hall logo

    Coming up today: Live interviews and red carpet arrivals for tonight’s NASCAR Hall of Fame induction ceremony; a closer look at the careers of all five inductees; Gridiron Challenge preview.

  9. Hulkenberg heading into 2015 under less pressure

    Jan 30, 2015, 3:30 PM EST

    Canadian F1 Grand Prix - Previews Getty Images

    2015 will be the first year that Hulkenberg has raced in F1 for two straight years with the same team.

  10. Filippi gets his chance; JR awaits his next opportunity

    Jan 30, 2015, 3:18 PM EST

    Mike Conway AP

    Luca Filippi gets the opportunity several coveted, and will now have the chance to seize.

  11. Ferrari junior Marciello set for busy 2015, balancing Sauber and GP2 commitments

    Jan 30, 2015, 2:30 PM EST

    MarcielloAD1 Getty Images

    He is widely touted as being one of the brightest talents on the cusp of F1, but 2015 will be a big year for Raffaele Marciello.

  12. Marcus Ericsson hoping for points in sophomore F1 season

    Jan 30, 2015, 1:45 PM EST

    F1 Grand Prix of Brazil - Previews Getty Images

    With Sauber, the Swede hopes he can continue to develop and make up for a difficult rookie year with Caterham.

  13. IndyCar: Marco Andretti is both paying it forward, and set for another number change

    Jan 30, 2015, 1:15 PM EST

    MarioMarco Getty Images

    Marco Andretti set for a new number while Andretti Autosport continues to sort out the rest of its IndyCar lineup.

  14. Toyota to return to the World Rally Championship in 2017

    Jan 30, 2015, 12:30 PM EST

    © Toyota © Toyota

    After boldly stating in 1999 that “all that can be achieved has been achieved”, Toyota will return to the WRC upon the next regulation change.

  15. NASCAR Media Tour Content Recap: All posts, one place

    Jan 30, 2015, 12:00 PM EST

    NMTrecap Getty Images

    A full download of all posts from NASCAR Media Tour on NBCSports.com.

  16. Ricciardo ready for new chapter at Red Bull post-Vettel (VIDEO)

    Jan 30, 2015, 11:30 AM EST

    Ricciardo Kvyat 30-1 Getty Images

    Australian driver does not feel under any added pressure in 2015 despite appearing to be the new team leader.

  17. Gridiron Challenge: NASCAR drivers take football stars for a spin (VIDEO)

    Jan 30, 2015, 11:15 AM EST

    HinesWard AP

    First video from Gridiron Challenge now up, in advance of the full event set to air tonight at 10 p.m. ET on NBCSN.

  18. IMSA: Wayne Taylor Racing moved to rear of P class for drive-time violation

    Jan 30, 2015, 10:51 AM EST

    Roar Before the Rolex 24 Getty Images

    The No. 10 WTR Corvette DP reclassified to last in P after drive-time violation at Rolex 24 at Daytona.

  19. Raikkonen confident Ferrari is heading in the right direction

    Jan 30, 2015, 10:45 AM EST

    F1 Grand Prix of USA - Previews Getty Images

    After a miserable 2014, Raikkonen hopes that the new season and a new car will bring better fortunes for Ferrari.

Top 10 NASCAR Driver Searches
  1. J. Gordon (1382)
  2. C. Elliott (1317)
  3. K. Larson (1188)
  4. J. McMurray (1053)
  5. J. Clements (892)