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Formula 1 Japanese GP

F1 Japanese GP: Verstappen breezes to victory in Red Bull 1-2

Max Verstappen dominated Formula 1's Japanese Grand Prix for Red Bull, easily beating Sergio Perez in a race that was red-flagged early for a crash involving Daniel Ricciardo and Alex Albon.

Carlos Sainz completed the podium ahead of his Ferrari team-mate Charles Leclerc, who popped up in Perez's race and gained several places from his mid-pack grid spot by completing a rare Suzuka one-stop strategy.

At the first start, polesitter Verstappen easily led Perez away from the line, with the action occurring far back in the pack as the medium-starting RB cars got swamped by soft-shod rivals.

When they raced into Turn 3, Ricciardo moved over on Albon – unsighted that the Williams was on his right-hand side – and the pair speared into the barriers at the start of the Esses.

The race was immediately stopped and a near 30-minute delay as the tyre wall was repaired.

In the second standing start, Verstappen again maintained his lead away from pole – this time chopping more aggressively across his team-mate's nose on the downhill run to the opening corners.

Perez managed to stay within a second for when DRS was activated on lap four of 57, but slipped back slightly until on lap six he ran wide out of Degner two and lost nearly a second.

The gap between the leaders continued widening until Perez stopped first for more mediums – the Red Bull duo having stayed on the mediums they had used at the initial start for the second attempt – on lap 15, where he trailed by nearly five seconds.

Sergio Perez, Red Bull Racing RB20

Sergio Perez, Red Bull Racing RB20

Photo by: Mark Sutton / Motorsport Images

Verstappen was called in the next time around, but when he emerged he had a new net chaser – Norris, who had been the first of the frontrunners to pit on lap 11, where he took hards.

At this stage Leclerc led for Ferrari, as he stayed out longest from the leading pack -bar the Mercedes cars that moved from mediums to hards during the red flag – having started down in eighth.

But by the end of lap 21 Verstappen was back to the front – after he had used DRS to easily breeze by Leclerc on the outside line into Turn 1 – and he had a 4.3s lead over Norris in third, with Perez a further 1.2s back.

But on the next tour, Perez dived by Norris at the chicane and so he started lap 23 with a 6.5s deficit to his team-mate.

Over the rest of the second stint, Verstappen romped clear to an 11s lead over Perez, who took several laps to catch and pass Leclerc – getting by when one-stopping Ferrari slipped off the road at Degner two on lap 26.

Perez again stopped first of the two leaders for the final pitstops – where both Red Bulls took the hards – on lap 33, with Verstappen coming in the next time by.

In the final stint, the leading duo were again initially separated by Leclerc, who had pitted for the first time at the end of the lap he slid off in front of Perez, with McLaren bringing Norris in at the same time as it was wary of Russell's undercut threat in the pack behind.

Charles Leclerc, Ferrari SF-24

Charles Leclerc, Ferrari SF-24

Photo by: Mark Sutton / Motorsport Images

Leclerc was able to run clear of Norris and cycled back to becoming a factor for Red Bull given he was not set to stop again, but the second time around, Perez was quickly by the Ferrari with a DRS run to Turn 1's inside.

The final 15 laps kicked off with Verstappen's lead reduced to eight seconds due to the undercut's powerful effect here, but he brought this back up to 12.5s by the flag.

In the fight for the final podium spot, Leclerc maintained his lead over Norris for the duration of his second stint and the McLaren's third, but both were passed by Sainz in the closing stages after the Spaniard built a notable tyre offset life advantage in the middle stint of his two-stopper.

Norris finished three seconds behind Leclerc in fourth, ahead of Fernando Alonso, who appeared to be adapting his pace late on to give the chasing Oscar Piastri DRS in his own last-gasp fight with Russell.

The pair clashed at the chicane with four laps to go, the same place where Piastri locked up on the penultimate lap and Russell was able to charge down the pit straight and gain seventh at Turn 1 at the start of the final tour.

Lewis Hamilton ended up ninth – his race notable for offering to allow Russell by during the initial phase after the restart, which Mercedes then enacted as it tried to replicate Leclerc’s one-stop tactic before switching its cars back to a two-stopper.

Yuki Tsunoda, RB F1 Team VCARB 01, Valtteri Bottas, Kick Sauber C44

Yuki Tsunoda, RB F1 Team VCARB 01, Valtteri Bottas, Kick Sauber C44

Photo by: Simon Galloway / Motorsport Images

To the delight of the home fans, Yuki Tsunoda secured the final point in 10th after an attacking driver, including two thrilling passes through the Esses complex.

The race’s other retirement was Zho Guanyu, who stopped with a gearbox issue aboard his Sauber on lap 13.

Japanese GP Results

Cla Driver # Laps Time Interval km/h Pits Points Retirement Chassis Engine
1 Netherlands M. Verstappen Red Bull Racing 1 53


    3 26   Red Bull Red Bull
2 Mexico S. Perez Red Bull Racing 11 53



12.535   3 18   Red Bull Red Bull
3 Spain C. Sainz Ferrari 55 53



8.331   3 15   Ferrari Ferrari
4 Monaco C. Leclerc Ferrari 16 53



5.656   2 12   Ferrari Ferrari
5 United Kingdom L. Norris McLaren 4 53



3.178   3 10   McLaren Mercedes
6 Spain F. Alonso Aston Martin Racing 14 53



14.572   3 8   Aston Martin Mercedes
7 United Kingdom G. Russell Mercedes 63 53



1.679   3 6   Mercedes Mercedes
8 Australia O. Piastri McLaren 81 53



1.574   3 4   McLaren Mercedes
9 United Kingdom L. Hamilton Mercedes 44 53



1.101   3 2   Mercedes Mercedes
10 Japan Y. Tsunoda RB 22 52

1 lap

    3 1   RB Red Bull
11 Germany N. Hulkenberg Haas F1 Team 27 52

1 lap

    3     Haas Ferrari
12 Canada L. Stroll Aston Martin Racing 18 52

1 lap

    4     Aston Martin Mercedes
13 Denmark K. Magnussen Haas F1 Team 20 52

1 lap

    2     Haas Ferrari
14 Finland V. Bottas Sauber 77 52

1 lap

    3     Sauber Ferrari
15 France E. Ocon Alpine 31 52

1 lap

    3     Alpine Renault
16 France P. Gasly Alpine 10 52

1 lap

    3     Alpine Renault
17 United States L. Sargeant Williams 2 52

1 lap

    4     Williams Mercedes
dnf China Z. Guanyu Sauber 24 12

41 laps

    4   Gearbox Sauber Ferrari
dnf Australia D. Ricciardo RB 3 0


        Collision RB Red Bull
dnf Thailand A. Albon Williams 23 0


        Collision Williams Mercedes

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