Restart, Suzuka, 2024

Suzuka “couldn’t have been any better” for Red Bull, says Verstappen

Formula 1

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Championship leader Max Verstappen was pleased to return to winning ways in Japan after his retirement in the previous race in Melbourne.

Verstappen led a Red Bull one-two from pole to take his third win of the 2024 season. He completed a perfect result by setting the fastest lap of the race which extends his championship lead to 13 points over team mate Sergio Perez.

Verstappen said he was pleased to return to the top step of the podium after his retirement from the previous race in Australia.

“It was a little hiccup, of course, the last race, but very happy that we are here back on top,” he said.

“It was very, very nice. I think the critical bit was of course the start, to stay ahead. Actually the car just got better and better for me throughout the race. I don’t know if it had to do maybe with the clouds coming in, but very nice. Everything just went really well, pit stops went well, strategy I think worked out well. So it couldn’t have been any better.”

The race was stopped and restarted after Daniel Ricciardo and Alexander Albon collided on the first lap, but Verstappen kept his advantage from pole position both times.

Perez said he struggled with his medium tyres over his first stint, which he believes limited his ability to challenge Verstappen for the win.

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“It was a good weekend for the team, first of all,” he said. “I think obviously with the starts, doing that risk again, it’s always quite hard to keep the focus for such a long period of time. It worked alright.

“My second start was a little bit better, but just not enough to get Max. I think we paid the price a little bit because we were a little bit off-balance in that first stint, which meant we couldn’t keep it alive.

“We had to box and then we were undercut by Lando [Norris] and then I had to push too much in that medium stint. But then on the hard stint, I was a lot more comfortable. The pace came back. I think I suffered a bit from the first [being] a bit unbalanced.”

After a difficult Japanese Grand Prix in 2023, where he retired after serving a penalty for a collision, Perez says his performance at Suzuka this weekend gives him confidence for the rest of the season.

“I think we have good momentum,” he said. “I think if you remember here last year, it was probably my worst weekend.

“So I think if we are as strong in places like this with a lot of high speed content, medium speed, I think we can be strong anywhere else. It’s been a good weekend.”

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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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5 comments on “Suzuka “couldn’t have been any better” for Red Bull, says Verstappen”

  1. You are no doubt one of the greats, Max, but you are having it too easy. We didn’t even get to watch you between L1T1 and the flag.

    1. Agreed. I have massive respect for Max’s driving ability: so I wish we could see him on the back foot more often.

      If this season we had Max/Sainz in Ferraris and Leclerc/Perez in Red Bulls, I think it would be a nailbiter.

      1. That’s pretty brutal on Leclerc. Although I’m also starting to think that he has been overrated.

        1. José Lopes da Silva
          7th April 2024, 14:08

          Leclerc is racing at 99% because he knows and the teams knows that racing 99% doesn’t get him anything better. It won’t bring the title to Ferrari. It’s not worth the risk. Better to collect the solid points.

          Sainz had to do way more over the last seasons to persuade Ferrari that he would be a better choice than Leclerc – at least a faster one.

          By now, that side of the season is already over. Leclerc doesn’t lose anything by losing for Sainz in the closing laps. The points for the team are the same and it won’t matter for the title. It’s up to Sainz to fight for a seat for 2025.

          It’s a harsh truth, but apparently Leclerc doesn’t believe the title 2024 can be his. I’m not sure if anyone else believes that Verstappen can lose – aside from Antonio Pérez Garibay.

  2. What was it I said yesterday on the article about “Question mark over race pace of Red Bull”? I said the only question mark was if it would be blazing or blistering. I think the answer was blazing. The cars never looked remotely troubled.

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