Fernando Alonso's first lap retirement in the Japanese Grand Prix was the present his pursuers is the Driver's Championship were hoping for, and Sebastian Vettel took full advantage of Alonso's nil points to take a dominant victory, bringing him to within four points of the Ferrari driver in the standings, with five races still to go.
As a result, Vettel has become the clear favourite to win the 2012 Driver's Championship, his odds shortening to [1.74] with Alonso moving out to [2.66]. Ferrari must redouble their efforts to keep Alonso's head above water but, with the next race in Korea just a week away and the Yeongam circuit another which is expected to favour Red Bull, the Spaniard is likely to return from the Far East trailing the resurgent Vettel.
It is not quite a two-horse race yet, although likely to become one if Kimi Raikkonen and Lewis Hamilton don't take a substantial chunk of points away from the leading duo in Korea. Hamilton had a subdued weekend in Japan after going the wrong way on car setup, meaning he could only manage a fairly anonymous fifth, while Raikkonen was six seconds behind the McLaren in sixth.
These are not positions on which world title campaigns are won and the respective odds for Hamilton ([26.0]) and Raikkonen ([60.0]) reflect both the scale of their challenge but also the market's recognition that all the momentum is now with Vettel.
After Japan there is value to be had with Raikkonen to finish third in the title race at [3.35], ahead of Hamilton at [1.45], Mark Webber ([4.0]) and Jenson Button ([3.4]). Hamilton is the odds-on favourite but I also like the look of Button here - he will have been given a boost by the news of Hamillton's departure to Mercedes and will want to emphasise his position within the team. He's finished fourth or higher in three of the last four races, and only Vettel has scored more points over the same period.
Red Bull are looking increasingly likely to retain the Constructor's Championship, their odds tightening up to just [1.24] and McLaren easing out to [4.1] after the result of today's race. McLaren are 42 points down and although there is still theoretically 215 points available if both cars finished 1-2 in the last five races, Red Bull are beginning to look unassailable.
Although there are no markets, it is worth keeping an eye on the battles for third and fifth. Ferrari and Lotus are separated by 24 points, the Italian team opening a bit more of a gap thanks to Felipe Massa's second place, while Sauber are on a charge for Mercedes' fifth spot, closing to within 21 points of the Brackley-based outfit after a great run of form, culminating in Kamui Kobayashi's first Formula One podium, scored on home soil in Japan.