Another Verstappen win makes Red Bull champions again as Piastri reaches podium

Formula 1

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Max Verstappen took another comfortable victory in the Japanese Grand Prix ahead of the two McLaren drivers to win the constructors’ championship for Red Bull.

Oscar Piastri secured his first podium finish in his rookie season, taking the chequered flag third behind team mate Lando Norris.

Despite Sergio Perez failing to finish after collisions with two other drivers, Verstappen’s win was easily enough to clinch the title for his team.

At the start of the race, Piastri lined up alongside pole winner Verstappen on the front row. When the lights went out, the McLaren drivers attacked the Red Bull from both sides, Piastri on the inside, Norris the outside, but Verstappen held his lead as Norris moved ahead of his team mate into second.

Back in the pack, there were multiple collisions between Sergio Perez and Lewis Hamilton and, further back, Valtteri Bottas, Kevin Magnussen and Alexander Albon. That left debris strewn across the track, so the Safety Car was deployed before the end of the opening lap, with Perez, Albon, Bottas, Zhou Guanyu and Esteban Ocon all pitting for new tyres or repairs.

The race resumed at the start of lap five, with Verstappen leading from Norris, Piastri and the two Ferraris of Charles Leclerc and Carlos Sainz Jnr in fifth. Eighth placed George Russell challenged Mercedes team mate Lewis Hamilton into the final chicane and moved ahead, only for Hamilton to re-pass his team mate along the pit straight.

At the back of the field, Logan Sargeant earned a five second time penalty for colliding with Bottas at the hairpin in a clash that damaged the Alfa Romeo enough to put Bottas out of the race. Out front, the top five drivers were all running on medium tyres, with Verstappen pulling out a five second advantage over Norris behind by lap 13.

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After pitting earlier for a new front wing, Perez was making his way through the field behind Magnussen. As they battled for 11th, Perez lunged at the Haas into the hairpin and punted Magnussen into a spin, leaving him facing backwards while Perez had to pit for another new front wing.

With debris on track, the Virtual Safety Car was deployed. Piastri pitted from third for hard tyres, while Norris found himself stuck behind the ailing Perez who was cruising into retirement with a damaged car. When the race went green, Verstappen’s lead had almost doubled to nine seconds over Norris as a result of the McLaren being held up by the second Red Bull.

Verstappen and Norris soon pitted after the VSC was lifted, the leader taking a second set of medium tyres and Piastri moving ahead of his team into second, joining Norris on hards. Russell remained out on his mediums until lap 25 in an apparent attempt to run a one-stop strategy. Once the Mercedes pitted, Norris cruised up to the back of team mate in second with Piastri receiving the order to allow him through soon after.

Piastri and Norris eventually pitted for a second set of medium tyres, with Piastri falling behind Russell into fourth. Race leader Verstappen eventually stopped for hard tyres and resumed with a comfortable lead, setting the fastest lap of the race on his first full lap out of the pits.

Piastri passed Russell around the outside of turn one to move back up to third place. Verstappen gradually moved further ahead of Norris, who himself was pulling clear of his team mate. Verstappen duly checked off the remaining laps to secure his 12th win of the season and secure the constructors’ title for his Red Bull team.

Norris took second place, 19 seconds behind the winner, with Piastri 17 further seconds behind to secure his first podium in third. Charles Leclerc took fourth for Ferrari with Hamilton behind in fifth. Carlos Sainz Jnr took sixth less than a second behind Hamilton’s Mercedes, with Russell in seventh on a one-stop strategy after being passed by the four drivers ahead of him over the final stint of the race.

Fernando Alonso finished eighth for Aston Martin, with the final points positions taken by Alpine drivers Esteban Ocon and Pierre Gasly, the latter having been ordered to allow his team mate through on the last lap. After retiring from the race, Perez was sent back out in the later laps to serve his five second time penalty for hitting Magnussen before retiring permanently from the race.

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Will Wood
Will has been a RaceFans contributor since 2012 during which time he has covered F1 test sessions, launch events and interviewed drivers. He mainly...

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41 comments on “Another Verstappen win makes Red Bull champions again as Piastri reaches podium”

  1. Shoutout to F1 TV for showing me a 2-second shot of the podium when I clicked “Watch from start”. Now what am I going to do with those saved two hours today.

    1. Still better than giving away the winner of the race in image thumbnail of the ‘Watch race replay’ … (That’s what hotstar did to F1 fans in India for years).

    2. Hulu/ESPN does the same sin times. I always mute the volume and cover the screen on the device when it launch the stream and have to drag back the slider to avoid this surprise.

    3. I think you jumped to conclusions here. Watching the race loses a lot of interest when you know the results beforehand. Unless it is one of those classics to rewatch, which was not the case today.

      1. I agree. It’s why I stay away from the internet until I’ve watched the session where possible.

        Been tagged by alleged “friends” too many times in posts which reveal the results before I’ve had the chance to watch

    4. Hardly a surprise who was gonna win though?

  2. Has Red Bull finally let Perez out of the car or is he still there?

    1. The most humiliating scene in a f1 garage ever. Felt bad for him but he did it to himself.

      1. He again searched the contact of every car around him. So he did that to himself. again

  3. Perez is so bad. Why is he still wasting that second seat.

  4. Mclaren & Mercedes were unnecessarily slow with swapping, which would be more akin to Ferrari.

    1. Russell was understandably a bit vex about losing the chance to get the first pit stop due to Hamiltons convenient moment of understeer. But I feel the he would have found a way to finish behind. He’s race wins behind Hamilton in the points because he just finds a way to lose the ideal result.

      1. Ham just drove the optimum race, again slightly spilled by selfish russell tactics.

        1. Russel just becoming an overhyped whinge bag, makes too many mistakes and can’t get the job done, always on the radio moaning & complaining – move him out and get a really solid no2 in there

      2. Lewis wasn’t exactly a good team player again twice today of which he got lucky not to be penalised for one. But then again maybe it is unrealistic to expect that from predator racers.

    2. I missed the race, but did catch they swapped Norris into second for Piastri. Can you elaborate why? Seems harsh

      1. Fresher tires, and the distant threat from Russell on 1 stop strat (though he wasnt really a threat)

      2. Lando was quicker today but ended up behind Piastri due to short VSC during Piastri pitstop.

        Lando easily pulled away 15s. Seemed harsh to me as well at the time but he proved he had much more pace.

      3. Not harsh at all, he was taking over 0.5s/lap out of Piastri at the time, and McLaren were concerned about Russell’s pace due to the McLaren’s needing a second pitstop and Russell being on a one stop.

        Plus, he did overtake Piastri on merit before turn 1, then McLaren gave Piastri the undercut

  5. Perez just continues to amaze me. Probably record for the largest points gap between teammates now. I know thats partly because max is the goat but im not sure who is doing better this season: perez or stroll

    1. Yes, in terms of pure gap there’s a bit more between verstappen and perez, in terms of % gap it’s more between alonso and stroll, but driving a red bull this year allows you to fight for position number 1 and 2 consistently, and considering the points given for 1st\2nd vs 6th for example it’s normal that perez isn’t getting like 100 points, even with a disaster season.

      One thing though, early season perez had some actual good races where he challenged or beat verstappen whenever verstappen had some issue, like that quali problem in saudi, and that level of driving he had early season is way more than stroll managed all season.

  6. Coventry Climax
    24th September 2023, 8:35

    Yet another stunningly stellar performance from Perez.
    I’m sure they want to retain such an outstanding racer for next year too.

    1. They can change him out whenever they want to. It’s not like they don’t have a bank account large enough to buy anyone else’s contract out. They’ve even got Lawson ready to go in the coming weeks if they wanted him instead for the remainder of the year.
      Clearly, they are sufficiently satisfied that Perez is fulfilling his contractual obligations and doing everything that’s he’s told.

      1. Perez and the two AT’s are just pawns on Hannah Schmitz’s chess board to be used to block other drivers, trigger a safety car, or move out the way of Max.

        1. Max of all the drivers doesn’t need any help from others. He is the best driver there. His performance is visible on Quali as well as Race. But some people are too much biased too see this.

          1. he simply got the best car

          2. (@madmax) The car is probably more suited to Max’s driving style, but do you have a shard of evidence to state that Checo’s car is different from Max’s?

          3. melanos, we know from Red Bull itself that Perez was given different specification components during the 2022 season, so the idea that there might be a similar situation in 2023 is hardly inconceivable.

            During the Imola GP last year, they confirmed that Max was prioritised when they introduced lighter components to cut the weight of the car. For most of that year, Perez was also given a heavier and older specification DRS mechanism compared to Max too.

          4. Sorry anon but Perez himself has confirmed there is no preferential treatment nor is the car more developed towards Max. This is therewith a concluded conversation.

        2. This is rubbish.

        3. If there ever was a driver that doesn’t need help, it’s Max. He has had zero to none of help from Checo ever since the last was put in that car. Some may point to AD’21 but that was a. not decisive after all and b. the very very first (& last time? maybe some-one can find a rare occasion somewhere in history) time Checo showed to be of some use.

          1. Without the more crucial “Masi’s decisive action”, Perez’s help in that race is the 2nd decisive action that helps Max getting very close to Lewis. I was very surprised to see Max getting that close to Lewis after Perez’s defending.

          2. Abu dhabi was decisive and there was also some hamilton blocking some race before, maybe turkey, as it was a wet race, and that reminds me something, since hamilton was coming back from a grid penalty.

    2. Seriously. There’s no risk in putting Ricciardo in that seat now. We know he loves the same car setup as Max and even if he hasn’t regained his form, it won’t be this bad. Even when he was struggling, he wasn’t crashing twice a race like Sergio has done literally two weekends in a row (and has had countless more crashes besides this year in addition to being incredibly slow).

      Anyway, my take is this: if he continues to be this slow and has even one more weekend as messy as this, he won’t be back whether because RBR buy him out or because he choose to go or somewhere in between.

      1. Ricciardo mclaren was absolutely this bad and worse, it’s only worth it if they are sure they get the old version of him.

  7. Tough times for F1. This clearly isn’t working.

  8. Did it light up? Or did he forget to kiss it?

  9. Max went way off line to block Piastri but still Norris couldn’t just drive through that open door.

    1. A particular McLaren successfully did it to a particular Ferrari (whom Max copied) here in 2000.

  10. Great performance from Max again bouncing back from a difficult Singapore.

    Leclerc raced well and even this performance is due to Sainz. Sainz’s recent performances and win has brought back a feeling of hope and motivation back into Leclerc. He sees there is hope that a win can be had. He is begining to believe.

    Hamilton raced well.

    The Mercedes drivers definitely obsessed with beating each other more so than any other driver pair.

    Russell today made the silly one stop call to try something different to beat Lewis. He is too far behind in points because even when he does beat Lewis, it is just by one position. His mistakes have cost him so many points this year.

    1. Agree. RUS’s tires were shot at the end and he was complaining the whole way to the finish. Someone needs to give him some lessons on physics. Would have thought he learned that last week when his lack of friction put him in the wall. Wouldn’t have been surprised if he binned it at the end this week. RUS certainly isn’t the brightest bulb on the tree.

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