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Formula 1 Japanese GP

F1 Japanese GP: Verstappen cruises to victory, Red Bull ties up constructors' crown

Max Verstappen cruised to an easy victory at the Japanese Grand Prix as Red Bull tied up this year's Formula 1 constructors' championship.

Valtteri Bottas, Alfa Romeo C43, collides with Alex Albon, Williams FW45, as Sergio Perez, Red Bull Racing RB19, squeezes Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes F1 W14, on to the grass and Max Verstappen, Red Bull Racing RB19, the field

The Dutchman saw off an early assault from the two McLarens at the start of the race, and lived up to Lando Norris' pre-race prediction that the Woking team would have little answer to the Dutchman if he led beyond Turn 2.

Verstappen crossed the line 19.387s clear of Norris at the line, having been considerably out of reach across the 53-lap race at Suzuka beyond the opening laps.

The only moments of close action that the championship leader faced was in his defence of the lead into the first corner, as he pulled across to the inside of the turn to ward off any threat from fellow front-row start Oscar Piastri.

Norris then placed his car on the outside, but could not get enough purchase into the second corner to come up for air with the lead - but displaced Piastri nonetheless in the process.

The Briton then attempted to challenge Verstappen on a subsequent restart after a lap 1 safety car was produced to clear debris resulting from a clash between Valtteri Bottas and Alex Albon when the Finn was guided into the Williams driver's side by Esteban Ocon.

But Verstappen gunned the throttle on the exit of the Casio Triangle chicane, and proceeded to begin his usual efforts to build a break over the rest of the field.

Lando Norris, McLaren MCL60, Oscar Piastri, McLaren MCL60, Charles Leclerc, Ferrari SF-23

Lando Norris, McLaren MCL60, Oscar Piastri, McLaren MCL60, Charles Leclerc, Ferrari SF-23

Photo by: Mark Sutton / Motorsport Images

This put him beyond reach despite the early power of an undercut strategy, as Verstappen had enough in hand to preserve a net lead during each pitstop phase.

His efforts ensured that Red Bull outscored Mercedes to tie up the constructors' championship - the team's sixth during its 19 seasons in F1.

Norris led a McLaren 2-3 home as Piastri managed to collect a maiden podium having undercut Norris following the opening round of stops after pitting under a brief virtual safety car.

The Australian's race pace was less impressive than his team-mates and Norris made his way through at the start of lap 27.

Charles Leclerc briefly hinted at being a threat to Piastri's podium when the 2021 F2 champion was stuck behind a one-stopping George Russell following the second round of stops, but struggled to pass the Mercedes himself once Piastri made his way through.

The Monegasque eventually finished 7.5s down on Piastri, but had fourth apparently locked in as the cars behind made little inroads into his advantage despite differing attempts at strategy.

Lewis Hamilton made an undercut over Carlos Sainz work to secure fifth, having just about warded off the Spaniard despite Mercedes' botched attempt to imitate his Singapore GP-winning strategy by telling Hamilton to give the following Russell DRS.

Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes F1 W14, George Russell, Mercedes F1 W14

Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes F1 W14, George Russell, Mercedes F1 W14

Photo by: Andy Hone / Motorsport Images

Russell was moved aside by Sainz as his sole set of hard tyres had begun to ail and fell to 7.4s behind the Ferrari to secure seventh.

Following a strong getaway at the start of the race that yielded sixth place, Fernando Alonso could only claim eighth after an early switch from soft tyres to hards - and suggested his team had "thrown me to the lions" as he battled to retain position.

He managed to stay ahead of the two Alpines, as Ocon recovered from the first-lap drama to collect ninth ahead of Pierre Gasly.

Liam Lawson beat AlphaTauri team-mate Yuki Tsunoda as the home favourite was announced for 2024 with the team on Saturday, as Zhou Guanyu beat the Haas duo of Nico Hulkenberg and Kevin Magnussen.

Magnussen had survived an assault from the beleaguered Sergio Perez at the Turn 11 hairpin as the Mexican made an ill-judged divebomb on the Dane amid a miserable race.

Perez earned a five-second penalty and retired, but returned to the circuit well into the race to serve that penalty before retiring again.

Williams retired Albon and Logan Sargeant as a result of their cars' wounds, as the latter used his newly rebuilt machine to punt Bottas into a spin at the hairpin - causing the Alfa Romeo driver to retire his own car two laps after the contact.

F1 Japanese Grand Prix results

 
 
         
Driver Info
 
 
 
   
Cla Driver # Laps Time Interval km/h Pits Points Retirement Chassis Engine
1 Netherlands M. Verstappen Red Bull Racing 1 53 1:30'58.421     2 26   Red Bull Red Bull
2 United Kingdom L. Norris McLaren 4 53 +19.387 19.387   2 18   McLaren Mercedes
3 Australia O. Piastri McLaren 81 53 +36.494 17.107   2 15   McLaren Mercedes
4 Monaco C. Leclerc Ferrari 16 53 +43.998 7.504   2 12   Ferrari Ferrari
5 United Kingdom L. Hamilton Mercedes 44 53 +49.376 5.378   2 10   Mercedes Mercedes
6 Spain C. Sainz Ferrari 55 53 +50.221 0.845   2 8   Ferrari Ferrari
7 United Kingdom G. Russell Mercedes 63 53 +57.659 7.438   1 6   Mercedes Mercedes
8 Spain F. Alonso Aston Martin Racing 14 53 +1'14.725 17.066   2 4   Aston Martin Mercedes
9 France E. Ocon Alpine 31 53 +1'19.678 4.953   2 2   Alpine Renault
10 France P. Gasly Alpine 10 53 +1'23.155 3.477   2 1   Alpine Renault
11 New Zealand L. Lawson AlphaTauri 40 52 1 lap     2     AlphaTauri Red Bull
12 Japan Y. Tsunoda AlphaTauri 22 52 1 lap     2     AlphaTauri Red Bull
13 China Z. Guanyu Alfa Romeo 24 52 1 lap     3     Alfa Romeo Ferrari
14 Germany N. Hulkenberg Haas F1 Team 27 52 1 lap     3     Haas Ferrari
15 Denmark K. Magnussen Haas F1 Team 20 52 1 lap     2     Haas Ferrari
dnf Thailand A. Albon Williams 23 26 27 laps     3   Collision Williams Mercedes
dnf United States L. Sargeant Williams 2 22 31 laps     4   Collision Williams Mercedes
dnf Canada L. Stroll Aston Martin Racing 18 20 33 laps     2   Accident Aston Martin Mercedes
dnf Mexico S. Perez Red Bull Racing 11 15 38 laps     5   Collision Red Bull Red Bull
dnf Finland V. Bottas Alfa Romeo 77 7 46 laps     3   Collision Alfa Romeo Ferrari

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