Sign up for free

  • Get quick access to your favorite articles

  • Manage alerts on breaking news and favorite drivers

  • Make your voice heard with article commenting.

Autosport Plus

Discover premium content
Formula 1 Japanese GP

Rating the 2024 F1 Japanese GP race

Max Verstappen won the Japanese Grand Prix to lead the third Red Bull 1-2 in the first four races of the 2024 Formula 1 season.

Fernando Alonso, Aston Martin AMR24, Oscar Piastri, McLaren MCL38, Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes F1 W15, Charles Leclerc, Ferrari SF-24, George Russell, Mercedes F1 W15, Valtteri Bottas, Kick Sauber C44, at the restart

As expected after the Australian GP hiccup, the three-time world champion took his third straight win in a row at Suzuka, leading from pole to finish over 11 seconds ahead of Sergio Perez.

Carlos Sainz again led the Ferrari charge in third ahead of team-mate Charles Leclerc. After a more promising qualifying outing, Mercedes was not a factor in the race, with George Russell finishing a distant seventh, two places ahead of Lewis Hamilton.

Our writers give their verdict on the fourth round of the 2024 season.

Little action up front but Suzuka delivered a good strategy test elsewhere: 4/10 - Alex Kalinauckas

The crash between Ricciardo and Albon raised hopes in the Suzuka media centre that Perez might be able to challenge Verstappen at the second start, but when he didn't and quickly fell out of DRS the race was over as a contest.

Thankfully, there was plenty of strategy intrigue behind – particularly at Ferrari, which outfoxed McLaren with Sainz on an offset two-stopper and Leclerc on a brilliant one-stopper.

That and the tyre approach differences – the power of which evident by how the RBs fell back at the first start on mediums, swamped by rivals on softs – at other squads made for several good overtakes, with Tsunoda's pair of Esses moves the pick of the bunch.

Strategy and battles prevented total snoozefest: 5/10 - Filip Cleeren

With zero jeopardy over the identity of the winner, or indeed second place, it's hard to rate this race any higher. But in another year dominated by Max Verstappen and Red Bull, it's good to adjust your expectations and find enjoyment elsewhere.

The Japanese Grand Prix lacked Australia's excitement of a surprise winner and the feel-good story of Carlos Sainz's triumphant injury return, but tried to make up for it in other areas by offering much more action.

All three Pirelli tyre compounds were viable options for the race and the strategic options that provided at least gave us some wheel-to-wheel battles from third place all the way down the the tail end of the midfield, meaning the fight for the final step on the podium remained quite open between Sainz, Norris and one-stopping Leclerc.

Sainz and Yuki Tsunoda particularly excelled with some daring overtakes, saving this race from being a total snoozefest. Watching drivers tackle a proper racing circuit like Suzuka will never get old, and it's almost tempted me to turn a 5/10 into a six.

Tsunoda a feel-good story again: 3/10 - Oleg Karpov

It's very easy to say that "a race without Red Bull would have been very different", but I feel that this was one of those races that just showed how one team dominating isn't really good for the spectacle.

A battle between Norris and two Ferraris for the win wouldn't have been a thriller either, but it was an interesting one - and knowing it was for the win might have helped some fans in Europe feel they didn't get up early for nothing. And Red Bull 1-2 sometimes feels like a non-achievement for the team that has won pretty much everything since the rules changed in 2022.

The fight for the final point was also decent, and once again hats off to Yuki Tsunoda, who has been a joy to watch this year. It's often said that drivers from 'Group B' teams need to have a 'perfect weekend' to score points this year, and Yuki is delivering that weekend after weekend. And for me, that is one of the nice storylines this year.

More of the same: 4/10 - Rachit Thukral

The Japanese GP was roughly in line with what we've come to expect from F1 in the ground effect era. And that's the big problem - there isn't a new narrative to pique the interest of fans and get them talking about the series.

Max Verstappen, as we've seen so often in the past, dominated proceedings from start to finish in an RB20 that was head and shoulders clear of the field. Sergio Perez's upturn in performance might have raised some hopes, but the Mexican's form has been fluctuating wildly ever since he joined Red Bull in 2021.

The fight for the final spot on the podium was fairly interesting, but again we've seen McLaren, Ferrari and Mercedes take turns at being the best-of-the-rest behind Red Bull. Nothing new.

Ironically, as the last two years have shown, we will also have thrilling grands prix every now and then. It's just that most of the races are likely to be monotonous in 2024.

Best race of the season so far but a familiar outcome: 6/10 - Haydn Cobb

Calling this the best race of the season so far isn't as big a compliment as I'd like it to be, but the opening lap clash, split tyre strategies and close competition between the pack behind Red Bull provided plenty of action.

Yes, Red Bull is still in a class of its own and then Ferrari pulled clear of the rest, but there was a genuine contest for all the positions behind the top two.

Mercedes' (aborted) and Ferrari's Charles Leclerc (committed) alternative strategies generated the overtaking action – granted, it was mostly them being overtaken by cars on fresher rubber – but it stopped it being a procession and was something like what F1 aims to create on a regular basis. It won't be remembered for much, but it wasn't as drab as expected.

Different venue, same story: 4/10 - Pablo Elizalde

I feel like these ratings could be interchangeable with any of the first three races of the season: From lap two, you already knew the winner and you knew that nothing was going to change at the top.

Again, like in the previous ones, there were some semi-interesting battles lower than the field, and if that's your cup of tea, the race might have been somewhat entertaining, but you only needed to pay a little attention to the weekend to predict how most of the point-scoring positions were going to be filled.

Pirelli's predicted "headaches" with the strategy didn't really materialise, and while we avoided a one-stop procession, the different strategies didn't affect the end result much, with Leclerc maybe being the only exception.

All that, combined with all overtakes being courtesy of the DRS, didn't make for a very memorable race.

Watch: F1 2024 Japanese Grand Prix Review – Normal Service Resumed

Be part of the Autosport community

Join the conversation
Previous article Albon feared about Williams F1 spares "before I even hit the wall"
Next article Norris "fighting a losing battle" against quicker Ferrari F1 cars in Japan

Top Comments

There are no comments at the moment. Would you like to write one?

Sign up for free

  • Get quick access to your favorite articles

  • Manage alerts on breaking news and favorite drivers

  • Make your voice heard with article commenting.

Autosport Plus

Discover premium content