Verstappen secures a Red Bull 1-2 finish in Japan as Sainz takes podium

Verstappen secures a Red Bull 1-2 finish in Japan as Sainz takes podium

It was back to business as usual for Max Verstappen who won the Japanese Grand Prix with ease as Sergio Perez secured a 1-2 Red Bull finish while Carlos Sainz rounded out the podium.

Max Verstappen reclaimed the top spot in a 2024 Japanese Grand Prix that came to life in the closing moments as Sergio Perez finished second while Carlos Sainz edged both his teammate and Lando Norris in a thrilling battle for third place.

After starting with a flawless launch from lights off without any incidents, the Japanese Grand Prix soon turned troubling as the field wound up at the high speed Turn 1. Although nobody made any contact, it was evident that there were a few close calls at the back, such as Zhou almost striking Magnussen’s rear.

Nevertheless, the field got through without any changes in the top 9 spots. Alonso seemed ready to go up against Sainz, but he was unable to gain any ground despite being the only driver in that pack on softs, as Piastri tried to get past the Aston Martin.

Tsunoda, who was running in tenth place lost two positions to Hulkenberg and Bottas as they benefited from their soft tyres from the beginning of the race. Although Ricciardo had the early advantage over his  RB teammate, the home favourite managed to pass him once more at Turn 1.

Meanwhile, Albon was on his right at the first left-hander, but it didn’t appear like he saw Ricciardo coming. As a result, the Williams driver got squeezed and ended up in the gravel and barriers, just like Ricciardo and the incident ended their races.

The race was stopped to clear the track as all drivers returned to the pits for 20 minutes before it was time to resume action.

Thirty-five minutes after the first start, the Red Bulls, McLarens, and Ferraris were back on the track, with the Scuderia even setting new records on mediums. Alonso, Hulkenberg, and Bottas, held onto softs. On the other hand, both Alpines and the two Mercedes opted for fresh hard tires for the restart.

Everyone completed the first lap flawlessly this time round. But, the Alpines got to make contact without going off course after Russell and Bottas locked up in mid-Turn 1 to avoid an untimely crash.

The Red Bulls weren’t particularly dominant in the opening laps although they got off to a smooth start. Up until lap 6, Perez and Verstappen maintained a very tight lead before the former lost a second after going wide on the exit of Degner 2.

All cars that started on soft tires pitted in laps six and seven, with the exception of the Aston Martins. By lap 11, Stroll had made significant progress and was currently running in tenth place while Alonso started to find it difficult to keep up with Sainz.

Norris stopped on lap 12 and switched from mediums to hard Pirellis. The following lap, Piastri did the same, dropping the McLarens to 8th and 12th place, respectively.

Zhou’s gearbox issue forced him to quit the race as Alonso made his first pit stop. He rejoined the racetrack in eighth place after switching to new medium tyres, three seconds ahead of Piastri and ten behind Norris.

Having ran the fastest lap, Norris ended up ahead of Perez and Sainz, who made their respective pit stops on lap 16. Meanwhile, the Mercedes drivers made some fascinating actions, trading places after Hamilton genuinely inquired, “Should I let George pass?” Something that you don’t hear from drivers too often.

Leclerc took the lead for a brief period of time after Verstappen pitted, but the Red Bull later overtook him once more. Leclerc was working on an extended first stint on mediums as both Mercedes opted to make use of the hard tyres. The Mercedes pair stopped on laps 23 and 24 and rejoined in eighth and ninth place.

A few laps later, Perez overtook Leclerc for the second position as a result of the latter’s mistake in Degner 2 and soon the Ferrari was struggling to keep Norris at bay. At the conclusion of the lap, the two pitted, Leclerc rejoining in sixth place and Norris in eighth, causing him to lose even more time as he had to pass Russell.

Twenty laps from the finish, Verstappen, Perez, Piastri, and Alonso were among the drivers who made another round of pit stops. 16 laps from the finish, the race leader made his pit stop and resumed the race in seventh place, behind the Mercedes team but ahead of Alonso and Piastri.

Once the Mercedes pulled into the pits for the final stop, Sainz set out to secure yet another podium finish. The Ferrari driver lost fourth place in the DRS zone at the hairpin after making a braking error while putting more pressure on Norris.

Sainz’s comment “one more to go for the podium” was prompted by the pass with Leclerc in third place at the moment while he was informed he was battling Norris. With tyres that were 10 laps fresher, the Spaniard was able to overtake Leclerc for third place in just one lap.

Both Mercedes were closing quickly on Piastri, who seemed unlikely to pass Alonso, while Russell joined them four laps from the finish. Fortunately, Piastri was able to hold off Russell the following lap thanks to DRS from a backmarker, while Hamilton was only able to close the gap to 2.4 seconds.

Once more, the gaps were reduced to 0.9 and 0.7 seconds on the penultimate lap. Piastri easily lost 7th place to Russell at the end of that lap after failing to brake in time at the chicane. Alonso had managed to get away from the battle, therefore that sealed their finishing positions.

Verstappen recovered from his retirement in the previous race to win the race once more. Red Bull Racing achieved the ideal outcome thanks to Sergio Perez, as Ferrari was unquestionably the second-best team at Suzuka.

F1 2024 Japanese Grand Prix Results

11Max VerstappenRed Bull Racing Honda Rbpt531:54:23.56626
211Sergio PerezRed Bull Racing Honda Rbpt53+12.535s18
355Carlos SainzFerrari53+20.866s15
416Charles LeclercFerrari53+26.522s12
54Lando NorrisMclaren Mercedes53+29.700s10
614Fernando AlonsoAston Martin Aramco Mercedes53+44.272s8
763George RussellMercedes53+45.951s6
881Oscar PiastriMclaren Mercedes53+47.525s4
944Lewis HamiltonMercedes53+48.626s2
1022Yuki TsunodaRb Honda Rbpt52+1 lap1
1127Nico HulkenbergHaas Ferrari52+1 lap0
1218Lance StrollAston Martin Aramco Mercedes52+1 lap0
1320Kevin MagnussenHaas Ferrari52+1 lap0
1477Valtteri BottasKick Sauber Ferrari52+1 lap0
1531Esteban OconAlpine Renault52+1 lap0
1610Pierre GaslyAlpine Renault52+1 lap0
172Logan SargeantWilliams Mercedes52+1 lap0
NC24Zhou GuanyuKick Sauber Ferrari12DNF0
NC3Daniel RicciardoRb Honda Rbpt0DNF0
NC23Alexander AlbonWilliams Mercedes0DNF0

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