Race Report: Verstappn takes Japan GP for Red Bull’s 6th title

SUZUKA, JAPAN - SEPTEMBER 24: Race winner Max Verstappen of the Netherlands and Oracle Red Bull Racing celebrates Red Bull Racing's 2023 Constructors' Championship victory with his team after the F1 Grand Prix of Japan at Suzuka International Racing Course on September 24, 2023 in Suzuka, Japan. (Photo by Mark Thompson/Getty Images) // Getty Images / Red Bull Content Pool // SI202309240268 // Usage for editorial use only //

Red Bull entered Japan looking for redemption after last week’s loss and they delivered in full with Max Verstappen winning the Japanese Grand Prix giving Red Bull their sixth Constructors’ Championship.

Apart from Max dominating the race, from 2nd to last place was an exciting battle with lots of mechanical attrition, DNF’s and some decent passing as well. The podium finish for both Lando Norris and Oscar Piastri was a terrific result for McLaren and tightens up the battle in the championship with Aston Martin.

Win

A huge win for Red Bull who looked widely off the mark in Singapore to bounce back and dominate the Japanese GP. The dominant performance from Max gave the team their 6th world championship as constructors and sets the stage for Max’s 3rd world championship driver title if we wins the Sprint race in Qatar. It’s a superlative season for Red Bull and Japan also showed that concerns, mine included, over the recent technical directive hobbling their car may have been wide of the mark.

A win for McLaren who have come on song late in the season and one has to go back to Zak Brown’s comments early in the season that it wouldn’t be until after summer break that they would start to improve. He was right. A huge win for rookie Oscar Piastri with his first podium finish and Lando drove sublimely.

A win for Ferrari despite finishing 4th and 6th and the fact that they won the last race. They are not in a fight with Red Bull but Mercedes so finishing ahead of both Merc drivers is a good result. They are now only 30 points behind Mercedes.

A team-ordered assist for Lewis Hamilton but that doesn’t take away his chippy drive this weekend to P5. They split the strategies for Lewis and George Russell and this left the latter a sitting duck late in the race. A good result for Lewis despite his being somewhat negative all weekend about his chances and the car.

A big win for Yuki Tusnoda and Daniel Ricciardo announced as drivers for next year at Alpha Tauri but a bigger win for Liam Lawson who beat Yuki to P11 in Japan adding more steam to my argument that if it were me, I would have signed Liam and Daniel, Yuki has had several season to do what Liam has already been doing in just three races. Of course that’s easy to say but I suspect Honda and the team’s relationship has something to do with it.

A win for Alpine with both cars in the top ten and they did it quietly until the last lap and after the race when fireworks flew about the team orders for Gasly to give up the position to Ocon.

Fail

A fail for Red Bull’s Sergio Perez who managed to get hit, hit and retire his car with a DNF and rain a little on Red Bull’s championship-winning weekend.

A fail for Alfa Romeo who lost out with Valtteri Bottas on the first lap and then retired the car after getting clouted by Logan Sargeant. Zho Guanyu didn’t fare much better with a damaged wing and run to P13 with 5 cars out of the race no less.

A fail for Logan Sargeant who managed to make the question mark over his F1 career even bigger by hitting Valtteri Bottas and then having to retire the car. For Alex Albon, he was a victim of the first corner madness and retired as well.

A fail for Haas F1 with both Kevin Magnuseen and Nico Hulkenberg finishing P15 and P14 respectively.

WTH

I was thinking this race would have a lot of tire degradation issues and strategy and it did but I wasn’t expecting it to have the amount of DNF’s and attrition that it had.

I understand Mercedes saying they made the right call by issuing team orders to let Lewis past George and maybe they are right but I feel like early in that situation, Lewis had more pace and with DRS, hew Ould have been safe against Carlos Sainz and that also would have protected George. The team say no, and Lewis was a bit sharp post-race in his criticism of George but I’m with Anthony Davidson on this one, I think it was the wrong call or at least too early for the call. If George needed a reminder of who this team is behind, he just got it.

What happened to Sergio this weekend?

How long is Lawrence willing to sacrifice millions just so his son can be a driver in F1? They are losing their position in the world constructor’s championship because Fernando is the only one scoring points. This makes very little sense to me and one day, if they are teetering on whether to stay or leave F1, they might remind themselves of the millions they left on the table over the question of Lance. If they had Liam Lawson, Daniel Ricciardo, Nico Hulkenberg, even Sergio
Perez, they’d be scoring more points and keeping their championship hopes alive for 4th. At this point, McLaren may very well beat them.

What’s up with Seb? I think he’s looking really hard for a return to F1.

Pirelli Report:

For the start, 13 drivers went with the Medium for the first stint, seven for the Soft. Apart from those who had to rapidly change their plans because of collisions in the opening moments of the race, it was clear to see that the great majority of drivers had opted for a two-stop strategy, making the most efficient use of the sets of tyres available. In fact, those who had two new Hard sets used them both, with the exception of Russell who – having done a good job of managing his Medium set from the start – tried to mix things up by going for a one-stop strategy, using the Hard for no fewer than 29 laps. The Mercedes driver also did the most laps (24) on one set of Medium tyres, while Zhou (Alfa Romeo) did the most (19) on the Soft.

Japanese Grand Prix Result:

POSNODRIVERCARLAPSTIME/RETIREDPTS
11Max VerstappenRED BULL RACING HONDA RBPT531:30:58.42126
24Lando NorrisMCLAREN MERCEDES53+19.387s18
381Oscar PiastriMCLAREN MERCEDES53+36.494s15
416Charles LeclercFERRARI53+43.998s12
544Lewis HamiltonMERCEDES53+49.376s10
655Carlos SainzFERRARI53+50.221s8
763George RussellMERCEDES53+57.659s6
814Fernando AlonsoASTON MARTIN ARAMCO MERCEDES53+74.725s4
931Esteban OconALPINE RENAULT53+79.678s2
1010Pierre GaslyALPINE RENAULT53+83.155s1
1140Liam LawsonALPHATAURI HONDA RBPT52+1 lap0
1222Yuki TsunodaALPHATAURI HONDA RBPT52+1 lap0
1324Zhou GuanyuALFA ROMEO FERRARI52+1 lap0
1427Nico HulkenbergHAAS FERRARI52+1 lap0
1520Kevin MagnussenHAAS FERRARI52+1 lap0
NC23Alexander AlbonWILLIAMS MERCEDES26DNF0
NC2Logan SargeantWILLIAMS MERCEDES22DNF0
NC18Lance StrollASTON MARTIN ARAMCO MERCEDES20DNF0
NC11Sergio PerezRED BULL RACING HONDA RBPT15DNF0
NC77Valtteri BottasALFA ROMEO FERRARI7DNF0
REVIEW OVERVIEW
Overall Race
race-report-verstappn-takes-japan-gp-for-red-bulls-6th-titleA very fun race to watch on a terrific track! Congratulations to REd Bull for winning the constructor's championship.
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PMR

Max doesn’t need to win the sprint race, 3 points is enough to secure the title. But he’ll try and win it anyway. Don’t know if FOM is to happy about the title being decided in a sprint race. Hopefully that will make decide to ditch it

Xean Drury

It would be the first time that he championship was not won at a Race (by their own stringent terminology).

pero

What up with Seb? He visited one of his favorite race tracks and put up some bee hives at the first corner.

Where did you get the impression that he is looking for a seat? Jeez …

Worthless Opinion

NC Can you elaborate on what positive effect you think there would be of returning Daniel to AlphaTauri? You could also say Liam has exceeded Daniel in three races, who couldn’t stand up to the same Yuki you’re not so impressed with. Ricciardo had the briefest of moments as a top driver and that was a hell of a lot of disappointment ago, his inability to make anything of cars which don’t appeal to him right away suggests nothing in the way of development skill, what exactly does a team which is supposed to be developing drivers need with this… Read more »

Xean Drury

I love me some George Russel, but that boy has to understand, that if you’re doing a tire gamble (which he does love him some of), then be prepared to let the faster car through.

Worthless Opinion

especially because his particular teammate is happy to shove another driver off the track