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Formula 1 betting lewis needs to look at the man in the mirror




There is only one man who can stop Lewis Hamilton winning his third world drivers title in a row - and, believe it or not, that man isn't Nico Rosberg.

No, the guy who will give Hamilton the most problems - or suddenly put the second half of his season back on track - is the man in the mirror: Hamilton himself.

After finishing third behind Rosberg and Daniel Ricciardo in Singapore he is now eight points off the lead in a Drivers Championship race he was leading by 19 points during the summer break. With a fortnight before the next race in Malaysia he has some soul searching to do.

Lewis had given a hint that he was allowing his mind to wander with his poor start in the Italian Grand Prix, when he went form pole position to sixth in the blink of an eye. I suggested then he might be showing the first signs of slipping up, even though he was still [1.33] to be world champion despite that mistake.

This morning the markets still have him odds-on, but the price has drifted to [1.62] while Rosberg is in to [2.66], having been matched at one time at [6.0] or greater.

The significance of the weekend result is deep. Since 2008 only world champions have won this race, Sebastian Vettel four times, Hamilton and Fernando Alonso twice. Rosberg must now believe that he can add his own name to that list.

It's all very well for Hamilton's boss Toto Wolff to take the pressure off his star driver by blaming the Mercedes team for his poor build-up to yesterday's Singapore Grand Prix. And it's true that faults on the car that cost him precious lap time during Friday's practice sessions didn't help.

"Lewis did not have a car able to extract all the performance," was Wolff's Saturday night verdict. But that hid the fact that Hamilton himself made mistakes both in qualifying and then again in Sunday's race.

I thought Damon Hill's analysis was far more on the money. "Lewis is a little out of sorts and that can happen with him," he said. "Sometimes I feel his concentration goes."

Singapore seemed a case in point. The warning signs were there when he arrived talking about how the twisty circuit with 23 turns was a "Red Bull track". That hardly suggested a positive mindset. When the technical problems with his own car began to multiply it only made matters worse.

What will count now is how he reacts. And there are good signs. After refusing to accept the blame for what went wrong in Monza, at least this time he was candid. "I struggled with the balance, struggled getting on the pace myself, and then in the race struggled with the brakes," he said - as well as Tweeting that "we win or lose as a team."

The last time Hamilton had such a bad weekend was in Baku when practice, qualifying and the race itself were all scrappy and fragmented. After the fortnight break that followed he reeled off four wins in a row in July.

That's what he is capable of when his competitive juices are flowing and his mind is completely on his job. He has to find that focus again. That's why what happens next is all down to the man in the mirror.

Japanese grand prix betting unfocused hamilton in danger of blowing title bid




We all love a good conspiracy theory. Whether it be Neil Armstrong stepping out of the lunar module into a TV studio, or FBI agents shooting President Kennedy from a grassy knoll in downtown Dallas, you don't have to be paranoid to believe there are dark forces at work.


The List of conspiracy theories on Wikipedia is long enough to publish as a book in its own right. Aliens from outer space, people who invented ways to run a car on water but weren't allowed to develop them, enough material for a thousand Hollywood blockbuster films.


Not mentioned yet, though, is the sinister plot by Mercedes to make sure Lewis Hamilton doesn't win this year's World Drivers' Championship. But it must be going on, mustn't it?


It's not so long ago that Hamilton was [1.3] to collect his third title in a row, but he's not even odds-on any more. Last week's debacle in Malaysia when he was cruising to victory only for his engine to blow up with a dozen laps left has seen to that. Hamilton is now [2.64] while his big rival Nico Rosberg is [1.62] favourite.


The theory is that Mercedes, a German car manufacturer, want Rosberg, a German driver, to win the world title. It's no more true than the idea that the American Government was really behind the 9/11 attack, but that didn't stop Hamilton accusing his team in an angry moment in Malaysia last week. "Why are my engines always failing when Rosberg's always work?" he wanted to know.


Mercedes have since investigated. The cause was a big end bearing failure, they say - presumably through whistled teeth before warning that it will be an expensive job and asking: "Who serviced this the last time?"


The truth has been that while Hamilton has had some bad luck with engines, he's also contributed to his own downfall in part with some peculiar behaviour.


He was still at it today, spending the official press conference ahead of the Japanese Grand Prix on his phone taking Snapchat pictures, turning himself into a rabbit complete with carrots.


He might see that as fun, but it is another sign of a lack of concentration, and it hardly fits with the official story that he's moved on from Malaysia and is fully focused on putting things right.


The races Lewis has thrown away through bad starts have cost him just as many points as engine failures - something I flagged up at the start of September.


If Hamilton doesn't win this weekend, he will have to finish first in every remaining race (assuming Rosberg is second each time) to retain his title.


Ironically both Hamilton - [2.2] to win in Japan - and Rosberg, [3.6], are likely to suffer because of the latest technical trouble. Mercedes say they will run their power units on reduced settings while they go on investigating the cause of the faults, and that might well give Red Bull more chance.


Daniel Ricciardo is [7.8] to follow up last week's win with another, while Max Verstappen is [8.8]. It will be worth watching the market for Red Bull to provide the Winning Car.


Personally I'd still love to see Lewis rise above all this and complete his hat-trick of titles (and his fourth in total). I'd like him to show that there isn't a conspiracy at work. But to do that he has to get his mind properly fixed to the job.

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