No tips offered for qualifying, and I would've probably found the Hamilton-Vettel choice difficult. As it happened, Vettel won by a fair distance.
In Q1 the pointless teams were joined by Bruno Senna. However, Schumacher starts 23rd due to a 10 place grid penalty for attempting to occupy the same co-ordinates in time and space as Vergne in Singapore.
Q2 saw the Toro Rossos exit as well as Rosberg, Maldonado, Schumacher (demoted, as per above) and Di Resta and Massa.
The third session was expected to be an exciting Red Bull-McLaren duel, but actually it was more a case of formation flying from the Red Bulls, who locked out the front row with Vettel getting yet another pole position. Button was third but slides down the order due to a 5 place grid penalty for a gearbox replacement (they need to change the regulations on gearboxes as the number of penalties this year has been ridiculous) and Kobayashi will be delighted to start third at his home race.
Grosjean and Perez are next up, and the former's first lap shenanigans prompted Kobayashi (according to an Andrew Benson tweet) to wryly observe: "I’m a little bit worried I have Grosjean next to me. I am good friend. But, you know, make sure."
Alonso starts sixth, and alleged that Vettel blocked him during a hot lap (although this was in a sector with waved yellow flags after Raikkonen discovered F1 cars are not suited to off-track rally action). The FIA were morons. They took about two and a half hours to decide, then said Vettel had impeded Alonso but only gave him a reprimand.
Raikkonen's seventh, with Button still beating Hamilton in eighth and ninth respectively with Hulkenberg, who didn't bother setting a time, demoted from tenth to fifteenth, promoting Massa to tenth.
Bit irked about the prolonged time for a Vettel decision, as I was hoping to quickly back Webber at 6 and 5 for the win and to lead lap 1 respectively. Oh well.
Given Red Bull's dominance in qualifying and strong long-run pace the podium market is what I looked at. Perez at 4.33 tempted me, but in the end I went for Alonso at 3.5 (Ladbrokes) with a Betfair hedge set up at 1.5.
My reasoning is basically that in the last couple of Japanese Grands Prix he's gone from 5th to 2nd and 5th to 3rd, he's consistently improved from grid to finishing position this year and that he's very reliable.
My main concern is that the Ferrari may be too harsh on its tyres, but we'll see come race day.
I also, briefly, considered Sauber to top score at 11. However, top-scoring requires either a win (unlikely) or a double podium finish (also unlikely).
Mr. Nigel's 40% stake tip on Vettel at 4.2 for the win is looking rather good right about now (he's 1.58 presently). Incidentally, is that with a bookie or Betfair? Just wondering about whether commission will be charged on your possible winnings.
Right now the race looks like a Red Bull duel for victory and a battle for third amongst everyone else. However, Suzuka is a very good circuit and hopefully we'll be in for fireworks. The race starts at 7am UK time.