Lewis Hamilton is looking to hit back from his defeat in Malaysia at this weekend’s Japanese Grand Prix, scene of a bizarre ‘Snapchat’ row that overshadowed last year’s race.
Britain’s triple world champion was forced to play second fiddle to Max Verstappen in Sepang on Sunday after securing his ninth pole of the season and 70th of his career.
The 32-year-old stretched his world championship lead over Ferrari rival Sebastian Vettel to 34 points with five races left.
Ahead of the race in Suzuka, AFP Sport takes a closer look at the major talking points.
Hamilton aiming to drive it like Curry
Lewis Hamilton limbered up for Suzuka by joining NBA superstar Stephen Curry for a spot of golf in China.
Britain’s world championship leader will hope some of the Golden State sharp-shooter’s magic rubs off on him after Curry donned Hamilton’s yellow helmet to take a tee shot.
Looking like a member of electronic music duo Daft Punk, Curry fluffed his drive before removing the lid to whack one down the middle of the fairway — with a power and precision Hamilton will want to emulate in Japan.
The kids are not alright at Ferrari
Ferrari president Sergio Marchionne blamed a “young team” for the reliability issues that plagued them at last week’s Malaysian Grand Prix.
After Sebastian Vettel had to start last because of engine trouble, Kimi Raikkonen failed to take up his second place on the grid after suffering similar gremlins.
Employing some serious manager-speak, Marchionne promised Ferrari would be “making some organisational changes” after insisting both red cars could have won in Malaysia.
Red Bull putting the fizz into F1
Whether it be Max Verstappen’s seat-of-the-pants style of driving or Daniel Ricciardo’s eye-watering “Shoey” celebration, Red Bull are without doubt Formula One’s coolest team.
Dutch flier Verstappen’s second career win in Malaysia fired a warning to Mercedes and Ferrari, while Ricciardo also finished on the podium.
The only downside of continued success for the F1 hipsters is that more poor souls will be forced to drink champagne from the Australian’s sweaty boot.
Radio Alonso: the art of diplomacy
Fernando Alonso’s frustrations at McLaren have sparked more than the occasional tantrum from the Spaniard over the team radio.
One of Alonso’s more memorable meltdowns came in Japan two years ago when the former world champion barked: “GP2 engine, GP2 engine, very embarrassing!”
Engine suppliers Honda were far from amused and it remains to be seen if Alonso will show more charity this weekend after McLaren recently ended their ill-fated partnership.
Point to prove for spluttering Honda
And speaking of Honda, how they would love to go out with a bang with McLaren at their home track — albeit it figuratively, rather than literally.
Honda are set to supply Toro Rosso next year, which may fill the Red Bull-owned team with a sense of foreboding.
But a strong showing at Suzuka would sweep away much of the gloom and doom that has followed the Japanese manufacturer around again this season.