IT seems fitting that as the F1 circus heads to land of the rising sun the sport is currently enjoying a new dawn of its own.

While it may have been too late to stake a genuine title challenge, the revival of Ferrari since the summer break has revitalised a season which looked to peter out in the hands of the dominant Mercedes.

Ferrari though has other plans and has enjoyed success in recent races many had predicted on those cold February mornings during Barcelona pre-season testing when the red cars looked ominously fast.

Barring luck and reliability problems, Ferrari should have won the past four races having finally unlocked the potential of their car, particularly in the hands of young Charles Leclerc who seems to reach new heights each weekend.

But the young Monégasque driver will face an even tougher challenge this weekend if Ferrari are to get over their Russia blip and continue their dominant streak.

In his way stands Lewis Hamilton, who has won this race a staggering five times, while his Mercedes team have won every race staged in the country since 2014. Even his Ferrari team-mate Vettel has four victories in Japan.

Mercedes, who are bringing along a set of 'minor' upgrades, will also have the added momentum of knowing they can wrap up a remarkable sixth consecutive constructors' championship this weekend if they outscore Ferrari by 15 points.

Throw in a competitive Red Bull team eager to impress engine partner Honda at their home race and the threat of super typhoon Hagibis, which is set to hit Suzuka this weekend, then we have all the ingredients for a classic showdown.

It’s just a shame that it took Ferrari so long to finally deliver on its potential, what a championship it would have been. Here’s to 2020.

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