Bottas can overcome grid penalty at Suzuka
Stroll to recover for top-ten finish
Japanese Grand Prix
Sky Sports F1, 6am Sunday
Valtteri Bottas podium finish 6-4
Lewis Hamilton has never started from pole position at Suzuka but the championship leader was in a class of his own in Japanese Grand Prix qualifying.
His title rival, Ferrari's Sebastian Vettel, starts alongside the Mercedes on the front row, but on Saturday's form the race is Hamilton's to lose.
Bookmakers agree - Hamilton is 4-11 to take maximum points - and while Mercedes' race pace hasn't always matched their qualifying speed, it's hard to argue with the odds.
Not for the first time, the starting order has been heavily altered by grid penalties.
Hamilton's teammate Valtteri Bottas qualified second fastest but will start sixth due to a gearbox change. Kimi Raikkonen (11th after a five-place penalty) and Fernando Alonso (20th after a 35-place penalty) are other significant sufferers.
Bottas, though, has the potential to recover the lost places.
His grid drop sees him start behind the Red Bull cars and Force India of Esteban Ocon. Force India are fast in a straight line but have not been as close to the pace as they would have hoped at Suzuka.
Red Bull boss Christian Horner, meanwhile, saw evidence his cars were losing eight-tenths of a second on the straights, which will make it hard for them to defend if Bottas looms up behind them.
Lance Stroll points finish 5-2
Teenage rookie Lance Stroll had a lot to prove starting his career at Williams this year, but the Canadian is showing he deserves his place on the grid with some solid, mature drives.
Stroll has finished in the points in each of the last three races, beating his far more experienced teammate Felipe Massa each time, and he can keep the run going despite starting 15th on the grid.
Stroll was eliminated in the first segment of qualifying after being impeded by Sergio Perez on his fastest lap.
Massa reached the qualifying top ten, to prove the car's potential, and Stroll has twice finished in the points after starting 18th this season.
V Bottas podium finish
2pts 6-4 general
L Stroll points finish
1pt 5-2 bet365
Grid: 1 Hamilton, 2 Vettel, 3 Ricciardo, 4 Verstappen, 5 Ocon, 6 Bottas*, 7 Perez, 8 Massa, 9 Vandoorne, 10 Raikkonen*, 11 Hulkenberg, 12 Magnussen, 13 Grosjean, 14 Gasly, 15 Stroll, 16 Ericsson, 17 Wehrlein, 18 Palmer*, 19 Sainz*, 20 Alonso*
Follow us on Twitter @racingpostsport
Like us on Facebook RacingPostSport