The Japanese Grand Prix kicks off this Sunday with Jenson Button firmly placed at the top of the standings with just a 5 point victory margin standing between him and the 2009 Drivers’ Championship title. An accident marred qualifying session combined with four drivers, including some of the championship table leaders, getting punished for violating the yellow flag means that Sunday’s race may not see Button seal the win, however, will definitely see many fierce battles all over the track.>
Sebastian Vettel may be all but out of contention for the title but he was definitely not showing any signs of giving up without a fight. Driving on home turf, Toyota looked set to have a good run until Vettel decided to spoil their party and grabbed top spot, pushing Jarno Trulli to the outside of the track. The dying minutes also saw a resurgent Adrian Sutil being pushed back into fourth spot by Lewis Hamilton who just had to make things count if he wants the season to give him something in return.
Behind Sutil, Rubens Barrichello decided to play spoilsport on Button’s possible victory party as he grabbed fifth place before Nick Heidfeld pushed the championship table leader to seventh spot on the grid, in front of the Kimi Raikkonen in the first of the Ferraris.
While this may be how the drivers ended the final qualifying session, it is definitely not how they will lineup for Sunday’s race. Why you ask?>
Well, as it turns out, Rubens Barrichello, Jenson Button, Fernando Alonso, Adrian Sutil and Sebastien Buemi, all decided that the yellow flag didn’t deserve the respect it demands and failed to slow down adequately after Buemi’s accident. Buemi, who could hardly be breaking city speed limits with his almost-dismantled car, was penalized for driving back all the way to the pits in his mangled heap, making the race track look like Tokyo city on a Monday morning.
This means that the highest placed of all these culprits, Sutil, will start at 9th spot while Barrichello goes to 10th. Button will end up in 12th spot while both Buemi and Alonso will be too far below to make any difference in any case.
This changes quite a few things as far as the winners for this race and the overall championship standings are concerned.
Vettel is the favourite to win Sunday’s race with 1.65 odds against his name. Lewis Hamilton is the next in line instead of second placed Jarno Trulli as clearly, Bwin do not have faith in Trulli or Toyota to repeat their qualifying performance in the race. Hamilton has 3.20 odds for a win while Trulli stands way back at 14.0.
Along with the usual bets, Bwin also has a bet on which manufacturer will win the race and all fingers, and odds of 1.65, point to a Red Bull.
Whatever be the outcome, the number of drivers who will be looking to make up for their poor qualifying session and the number of drivers who will be looking to prove a point, are just too many to make Suzuka boring on this Sunday afternoon.