Brig is once again back with an F1 weekend recap. The Japanese Grand Prix at the Suzuka Circuit proved to be one of the fan-favourites.
Filled with action right at the start of the race, multiple DNFs, and one reigning winner, this was everything.
The starting grid was as follows:
- Max Verstappen (Red Bull)
- Oscar Piastri (McLaren)
- Lando Norris (McLaren)
- Charles Leclerc (Ferrari)
- Sergio Perez (Red Bull)
- Carlos Sainz (Ferrari)
- Lewis Hamilton (Mercedes)
- George Russell (Mercedes)
- Yuki Tsunoda (AlphaTauri)
- Fernando Alonso (Aston Martin)
What a phenomenal qualifier for Australian driver Oscar Piastri, who secured his first front-row grid slot after an impressive drive.
After an intelligent start to the race, minimal pit stops, and one sensational drive, Max Verstappen crossed the chequered flag 19.4 seconds ahead of the other drivers, making this his 13th Grand Prix win of the season.
As said by his own Red Bull team, Verstappen was ‘awesome and dominant’ this race, proving himself the best driver repeatedly.
The Japanese Grand Prix started with great reaction time from Piastri, Verstappen, and Norris on the outside. Max cuts through and hangs onto the lead, with Norris in P2 and Piastri in P3.
The yellow flag is immediately called in sector one as Albon has a significant contact with Bottas of Alfa Romeo.
They manage to keep driving until Bottas pits in lap nine and is forced to retire due to damages which include a hit to Logan Sargeant (Williams) earlier in lap five. At the same moment, Perez and Hamilton also have a small touch but no damage.
The green flag and safety car mark the track as clear.
It is in lap five when the two Mercedes teammates start to battle for each others’ positions. Russell and Hamilton aim for seventh place.
In lap 12, Perez makes contact with Kevin Magnussen (Haas), causing the car to turn on itself and the yellow flag is called. This was a poor looking move from Perez who hit the driver from behind. The Red Bull driver then went to pit stop his vehicle before he was also forced to retire the race due to damages.
In lap 16, Hamilton and Russell once again fight for fifth position, going against each other, almost going off the road. Here, we encounter great entertainment for the crowd as both drivers show intense offence and defence.
Who do we want to fight here, each other, or the others?George Russell, Mercedes
The following lap, Verstappen pits quickly alongside Hamilton who ditches his medium tyres.
In lap 19, the Dutchman then passes Russell in a wide offensive tactic, leaving the Mercedes driver incapable of fighting. Then, whilst Ocon and Alonso battle for sixth position, Leclerc passes Ocon through the right hand and moves up a place.
The following lap, behind, Sainz takes the outside past Alonso; this turns into an inside pass that pushes Sainz up to seventh position.
With Alonso just ahead, Hamilton uses his DRS to go past Alonso, who, taken aback by the great offence, is also unable to fight back.
In lap 27, Norris takes second position behind Piastri. The two teammates swapped position after Norris gained confirmation from his team for the change. Alonso moves into his offence and gains ninth position past Tsunoda, who was going downhill towards the spoon curve on the Suzuka Circuit.
With a rear wing failure, Lance Stroll retired the race leaving teammate Alonso on his own for Aston Martin.
Three laps later, after falling a few places due to a quick pitstop for Norris, the move for second position begins again as he moves up past Russell to gain third place.
In lap 42, Piastri encounters his DRS zone, who then passes Russell regardless of his good defence. After this overtake, he bolts quickly to catch his teammate ahead.
Ferrari’s Leclerc and Mercedes’ Russell then battle for fourth position, with a good overtake by Mercedes on the turn. Hamilton then takes the inside line past Russell and snatches fifth as Russell listens to team instructions.
In turn one, past Russell, Sainz takes P6 away from him and moves up a position.
In the 53rd and final lap of the Japanese Grand Prix, we see Verstappen coming out the final corner and taking the win.
This is Verstappen’s 48th career win of his F1 history. Verstappen also gained an extra point for completing the fastest lap of the race in lap 39 with 1:34.183s.
Lando Norris arrives almost 20 seconds afterwards to claim P2 and a spot on the podium, followed by teammate Piastri in P3. This was a fantastic race for Piastri as he takes his first podium finish of his career and of the season.
I’ll remember it [podium finish] for a very, very long time. So, I can’t thank the team enough for giving me this opportunity. There’s not many people in the world that get this opportunity in their whole life and I’ve managed to have it in my first season, so thank you very much to the team.Oscar Piastri, McLaren
For this weekend, Piastri is the Salesforce Driver of the Day with 28.2 per cent of the spectator and fan votes.
McLaren is really starting to shape up considering their slow start of the 2023 season.
We’re making good progress and days like today prove exactly that. Even though I know there’s going to be maybe some tougher races coming up at times and maybe not as straightforward as today but the progress we’ve made this season has been pretty incredible […] So I’m proud of everyone and we’ll keep pushing.Lando Norris, McLaren
In P4, 5, 6, and 7, we have Leclerc, Hamilton, Sainz, and Russell, respectively.
Not only was this an amazing race for winner Max Verstappen, but it also signified a massive win for his Red Bull team. Red Bull wins the 2023 FIA Formula 1 Constructors’ Champions title for the second year in a row, ranking them at 623 points total.
To win here was great. I think the car was working really well on every compound, but of course the most important was also to win the Constructors’. So, very proud of everyone working at the track but also back at the factory. I mean, we are having an incredible year and I’m very proud of everyone.Max Verstappen, Red Bull
This is their sixth time being World Champions in team history.
Verstappen is currently in the lead of the Driver Standings with 400 points total. This is almost twice as many points as Perez, who is in second position for the standings. Hamilton (190pts), Alonso (174pts), and Sainz (150pts) follow behind.
Three drivers still remain with zero points on the standings which include Logan Sargeant, Nyck De Vries, and Daniel Ricciardo who is currently out of racing due to an injury.
With a massive lead ahead of other drivers and the upcoming Grand Prix in Qatar, is Verstappen’s 2023 season win already in the bag? Will he be able to uphold this lead in the future?
The full results of the Japanese Grand Prix are on the official Formula 1 Website.
The next race is the Qatar Grand Prix at the Losail Circuit on Sunday, October 8, with Saturday’s qualifiers on October 7.
Featured Image Credits: Formula One