Skip to content

MotorSportsTalk’s predictions: Japanese GP

Oct 10, 2013, 4:00 PM EDT

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. GP2: Sirotkin on pole for Silverstone feature race

    Jul 3, 2015, 5:00 PM EDT

    © GP2 Series © GP2 Series

    Sirotkin claims his first pole in the GP2 Series on Friday ahead of Stoffel Vandoorne and Richie Stanaway.

  2. Red Bull GRC: Volkswagen Andretti Rallycross excited for first race at military base

    Jul 3, 2015, 4:00 PM EDT

    SpeedDaytonaGRC Getty Images

    Foust seeks another win, Speed looks for bounce back from tough Daytona at MCAS.

  3. Filippi elated after first oval test, calling it “like a roller coaster x 10″

    Jul 3, 2015, 3:30 PM EDT

    DETROIT, MI - MAY 29:  Luca Filippi, of Italy,  is shown in the pits during practice for Verizon IndyCar At Detroit Belle Isle on May 29, 2015 in Detroit, MI, United States.  (Photo by Brian Cleary/Getty Images) Getty Images

    The street and road course specialist gets his first taste of an oval in Iowa this week.

  4. Alonso unsure McLaren will reach Q2 at Silverstone

    Jul 3, 2015, 3:00 PM EDT

    McLaren Honda's Spanish driver Fernando Alonso drives during the second practice session at the Silverstone circuit in Silverstone on July 2, 2015 ahead of the British Formula One Grand Prix.      AFP PHOTO / BEN STANSALL        (Photo credit should read BEN STANSALL/AFP/Getty Images) Getty Images

    Spaniard expects a close fight with Sauber during qualifying on Saturday.

  5. Wolff enjoys final practice run-out of 2015 season

    Jul 3, 2015, 2:00 PM EDT

    xxxx during practice for the Formula One Grand Prix of Great Britain at Silverstone Circuit on July 3, 2015 in Northampton, England. Getty Images

    Wolff finishes eight-tenths of a second behind regular Williams driver Felipe Massa in FP1 on Friday.

  6. Hamilton more comfortable with old clutch setup

    Jul 3, 2015, 1:22 PM EDT

    NORTHAMPTON, ENGLAND - JULY 03:  Lewis Hamilton of Great Britain and Mercedes GP drives during practice for the Formula One Grand Prix of Great Britain at Silverstone Circuit on July 3, 2015 in Northampton, England.  (Photo by Mark Thompson/Getty Images) Getty Images

    British driver switches back to the old setting on his Mercedes after struggling in the past four races.

  7. Raikkonen: I wouldn’t be racing in F1 if I didn’t want to be

    Jul 3, 2015, 12:00 PM EDT

    NORTHAMPTON, ENGLAND - JULY 02:  Kimi Raikkonen of Finland and Ferrar speaks at a press conference during previews to the Formula One Grand Prix of Great Britain at Silverstone Circuit on July 2, 2015 in Northampton, England.  (Photo by Charles Coates/Getty Images) Getty Images

    Raikkonen hits back at questions about his motivation as rumors of a possible driver change at Ferrari begin to circulate.

  8. Mercedes handed reprimand for covering Rosberg’s car

    Jul 3, 2015, 11:00 AM EDT

    NORTHAMPTON, ENGLAND - JULY 03:  Nico Rosberg of Germany and Mercedes GP returns to the garage during practice for the Formula One Grand Prix of Great Britain at Silverstone Circuit on July 3, 2015 in Northampton, England.  (Photo by Clive Mason/Getty Images) Getty Images

    Rosberg’s car was covered over following a stoppage in FP1.

  9. Rosberg fastest once again in second British GP practice

    Jul 3, 2015, 10:32 AM EDT

    NORTHAMPTON, ENGLAND - JULY 03:  Nico Rosberg of Germany and Mercedes GP drives during practice for the Formula One Grand Prix of Great Britain at Silverstone Circuit on July 3, 2015 in Northampton, England.  (Photo by Clive Mason/Getty Images) Getty Images

    Two red flags interrupt running in FP2, but it is Nico Rosberg who leads the way once again.

  10. WATCH LIVE: FP2 for the British Grand Prix on NBCSN and Live Extra from 9am ET

    Jul 3, 2015, 8:45 AM EDT

    xxxx during practice for the Formula One Grand Prix of Great Britain at Silverstone Circuit on July 3, 2015 in Northampton, England. Getty Images

    Can Nico Rosberg top the timesheets once again in second practice at Silverstone?

  11. Rosberg tops FP1 at Silverstone after gearbox change

    Jul 3, 2015, 6:35 AM EDT

    NORTHAMPTON, ENGLAND - JULY 02:  Nico Rosberg of Germany and Mercedes GP speaks with members of his team outside the garage during previews to the Formula One Grand Prix of Great Britain at Silverstone Circuit on July 2, 2015 in Northampton, England.  (Photo by Clive Mason/Getty Images) Getty Images

    First blood to Rosberg despite missing most of FP1 due to a problem on his car.

  12. WATCH LIVE: FP1 for the British Grand Prix on Live Extra from 5am ET

    Jul 3, 2015, 4:46 AM EDT

    SPIELBERG, AUSTRIA - JUNE 19:  Lewis Hamilton of Great Britain and Mercedes GP gets in his car in the hgarage during practice for the Formula One Grand Prix of Austria at Red Bull Ring on June 19, 2015 in Spielberg, Austria.  (Photo by Dan Istitene/Getty Images) Getty Images

    First practice at Silverstone kicks off at 5am ET on Friday.

  13. NHRA: Tony Pedregon hopes to keep momentum going in Norwalk

    Jul 2, 2015, 11:08 PM EDT

    Tony Pedregon (Photo courtesy Tony Pedregon official Twitter account) Tony Pedregon (Photo courtesy Tony Pedregon official Twitter account)

    The way his season had been going, two-time NHRA Funny Car champ Tony Pedregon was threatening to become a “Whatever Happened To?” question.

  14. Matthew Brabham completes first IndyCar test, eyes 2016 Indy 500

    Jul 2, 2015, 6:36 PM EDT

    matthew brabham Getty Images

    Today, Iowa. Next year, Indianapolis? That’s what Matthew Brabham is hoping for, after completing his first full IndyCar test with Andretti Autosport Thursday at Iowa Speedway.

  15. Button: Confidence high at McLaren ahead of home GP

    Jul 2, 2015, 5:00 PM EDT

    xxxx during previews to the Formula One Grand Prix of Great Britain at Silverstone Circuit on July 2, 2015 in Northampton, England. Getty Images

    A double DNF in Austria isn’t enough to get McLaren down ahead of British Grand Prix.

  16. Ryan Briscoe making most of filling in for James Hinchcliffe

    Jul 2, 2015, 4:10 PM EDT

    Ryan Briscoe 2015 getty Getty Images

    At the same time that James Hinchcliffe was seriously injured while practicing for the Indianapolis 500, Ryan Briscoe didn’t have a ride for either the 500 or for the season.

  17. Team roster confirmed for second Formula E season

    Jul 2, 2015, 3:00 PM EDT

    Nextev TCRs German driver Nelson Piquet JR (C) drives during the final race of the 2015 FIA Formula E London ePrix championship at Battersea Park in London, England, on June 28, 2015. AFP PHOTO / IAN KINGTON        (Photo credit should read IAN KINGTON/AFP/Getty Images) Getty Images

    The same ten teams from season one, albeit with a few name changes.

  18. F1 Strategy Group pushing through technical revolution for 2017, other changes planned as early as Belgian GP

    Jul 2, 2015, 1:48 PM EDT

    Drivers wait for the start at the Red Bull Ring in Spielberg, Austria on June 21, 2015, during the Austrian Formula One Grand Prix. AFP PHOTO / JOE KLAMAR        (Photo credit should read JOE KLAMAR/AFP/Getty Images) Getty Images

    F1 Strategy Group met with the FIA and Formula One Management in England on Wednesday to discuss future changes to the sport.