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Preview of the Japanese Grand Prix at Suzuka

The big question this weekend is not necessarily who will win the Japanese Grand Prix, but how many races of the season there are left to run.

At present, there are four rounds including Sunday’s race at the Suzuka circuit. However, if the Yeongam circuit in South Korea is not ready for the inaugural race there on 24 October, the championship could end up being very different.

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At the moment it is too close to call, but with the Japanese circuit expected to suit the Red Bulls – as evidenced by their strong showing in this morning’s practice sessions – and the possibility of only having two races left after Sunday, Mark Webber’s 11 point lead suddenly looks more comfortable.

The South Korean GP debacle is yet another twist in a thoroughly dramatic season. The chance of seeing five drivers fight it out – and a British world champion for the third year in a row – is beginning to seem unlikely since Ferrari’s return to form and McLaren's troubles, but there is no doubt the title will go down to the wire.

Fernando Alonso has declared himself the favourite and he heads to Japan having won the past two races.

However, Sebastian Vettel appeared to be the quicker of the two at times during the Singapore Grand Prix two weeks ago and, though still not easy, the Suzuka circuit is far more conducive to overtaking than Marina Bay.

As a result, it is difficult to bet against either one of the Red Bulls drivers taking the win. Rain is scheduled for qualifying though and that could spring a few surprises.

My bet for the race: Jenson Button… bizarrely after all the above. I believe he deserves a win after his Italian GP performance, and wet qualifying is a chance for him to shine.

Andrew Papworth

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