Japanese GP cheat sheet: What time does it start? Where can I watch it?

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Lewis Hamilton extended his championship lead to a season-high 73 points with victory at the Russian Grand Prix. Who will salute when Formula One heads to Japan?

What time does it start? How can I watch it?

This weekend’s Japanese Grand Prix is set to get underway at 14:10 local time (GMT+9). All of this weekend’s sessions are live on ESPN:

Practice 1 – Thursday, October 10 – 8:55PM – ESPNEWS
Practice 2 – Friday, October 11 – 12:55AM – ESPN2

Practice 3 – Friday, October 11 – 10:55PM – ESPNU
Qualifying – Saturday, October 12 – 1:55AM – ESPN2

Pit-Lane Live – Saturday, October 13 – 11:30PM – ESPN3
On the Grid – Sunday, October 13 – 12:30AM – ESPNEWS
Race – Sunday, October 13 – 1:05AM – ESPN2

U.K. viewers can watch every session live on Sky Sports F1. Check local listings for all other territories.

What to watch out for

Who is the main man at Ferrari?

All signs are pointing to Charles Leclerc.

Since the summer break, the 21-year-old has been in scintillating form. He’s scored four consecutive pole positions — the first Ferrari driver to do so since Michael Schumacher in 2006 — and converted two of them into wins. It very easily could have been four straight victories if not for a few slices of bad luck and mistimings.

Meanwhile, Sebastian Vettel finally broke through for his first win in over a season when he saluted last month in Singapore, but seven days later he was asked to follow team orders in Russia. There doesn’t appear to be a clear favourite right now, but there’s no doubt Leclerc is the Ferrari man who’s in red-hot form heading to Suzuka.

Mercedes winning the constructors’ championship

Yes, the Silver Arrows really can claim a sixth consecutive constructors’ crown in Japan.

Mercedes would need to out-score Ferrari by at least 14 points in order to wrap up the championship in Suzuka. They have managed to do so at nine of the 16 races this season, so although Ferrari is looking a much stronger outfit than in the early part of the season, it’s certainly a real possibility.

Should they do so, Mercedes would tie Ferrari’s record of six consecutive titles. The Scuderia achieved the feat from 1999-2004.

Tyres

Available compounds: Hard C1 (white), Medium C2 (yellow), Soft C3 (red)

Weather forecast

With Typhoon Hagibis heading towards Japan, heavy rain is expected to hit the Suzuka region from late Friday right through until Saturday afternoon. If this eventuates, qualifying would likely need to be postponed from Saturday until Sunday morning (when clear), with the race to still take place in the afternoon.

There’s been no word from Japanese Grand Prix organisers as yet, however a number of Rugby World Cup matches which were scheduled for the weekend have already been cancelled.

ESPN’s prediction

With a bit of luck, Leclerc could have won every race since the summer break. He’s the most in-form driver in Formula One right now, there’s no doubt about it.

Winner: Charles Leclerc

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