Japan once again became a land of domination for Verstappen. Max Verstappen and Red Bull have been dominant all weekend – confirming that Singapore was just a blip.
Red Bull claimed its seventh constructors’ title with six races left to go.
It is difficult to remember such supremacy in the past by a team, as evidenced by the fact that Verstappen’s points alone would be enough for the Milton Keynes team to be at the top of the constructors’ championship.
It is also a special day for McLaren, which completes the podium with second place for Norris and third for Piastri, the first career podium for the Australian. Fourth was Leclerc, who completed a solid race without any hitches.
Behind him was Carlos Sainz and Lewis Hamilton, with the British driver having several battles with his teammate.
Alonso brings home the maximum result again, securing eighth position and yet more points, completing the top ten with the two Alpine riders of Gasly and Ocon. Perez’s race should be forgotten for the umpteenth time, as he made several trivial errors that are not expected from a driver with his experience.
In yesterday’s qualifying, for the first time this season, the values on the field seemed to be clear, even among the pursuers of an elusive Max Verstappen. McLaren is establishing itself as second-fastest and as Verstappen’s closest challengers. Ferrari and Mercedes were a few steps too slow this weekend.
The most popular strategy seems to be that of two stops using the medium and hard tyres, while the risk of making just one stop is more complicated given the high degradation on Friday.
While waiting to get his hands on his third world championship, Max Verstappen can today bring home the seventh world championship for Red Bull.
The top eight started are on medium tyres. Meanwhile, Tsunoda, Alonso, Lawson, Bottas, Stroll, Hulkenberg and Zhou went aggressive with soft tyres to start.
The start is the scene of numerous duels in which the aggression of some reigns supreme. Verstappen covered Piastri’s attack by closing him inside, thus allowing Norris to overtake his teammate by exploiting the external trajectory.
Likewise, Perez, in a less clean manner compared to his teammate, forces Lewis Hamilton onto the grass; the same Mexican, protagonist of a slow start, is attacked by Carlos Sainz, who easily overtakes him.
The Safety car that comes out on the second lap is caused by contact between Bottas and Albon in a dynamic similar to the accident at Silverstone 2022, where the Chinese driver was involved. This time he emerged unscathed, leaving only some debris on the circuit.
The restart sees Russel attack Hamilton at the last chance. The response of the seven-time world champion is not long in coming as he counters the overtaking after a few meters by slipping him into turn 1.
Perez seems to have gotten into confusion by making a banal mistake when exiting the pits, not respecting the track position he found himself in after crossing the white line exiting the pit. This error cost him a 5-second penalty.
This was the same sentence he received for a failed attempt to overtake Kevin Magnussen, which ultimately gave him race-ending damage.
On lap 14, Piastri returned to the pits and was favoured by the simultaneous exit of the virtual safety car due to the debris left on the track by the Perez-Magnussen contact.
This disadvantaged his teammate, who, at the end of the VSC, lost time to Max Verstappen in front and Charles Leclerc behind.
A few laps later, Leclerc and Norris stop on yellow and hard tyres, respectively, both behind Piastri, who is virtually second. The same strategy is followed by the rest of the top teams, with the exception of Russel, who extends the stint by improvising a strategy based on one-stop only.
During the second stint, Norris’s superiority over his teammate is evident, forced by the team to give up the position, while Verstappen continues his race with the Red Bull alone, rarely in the frame.
Russell returned to the pits to put on hard tyres. Hamilton and Leclerc followed suit ten laps later.
This phase saw Hamilton gain a position on Sainz. The race in the final stint is heated by the pursuit of Piastri, Leclerc, Hamilton and Sainz, with George Russel in third position with more worn tyres.
Russell is easily overtaken by everyone – Once his tires are worn –while Leclerc has to invent a huge overtaking in Turn 1 on the outside.
A super Max Verstappen crosses the finish line first amidst the celebrations in the Red Bull garage for the victory of the seventh constructors’ title.
Singapore is already a distant memory that the Dutchman has decided to sweep away by providing a performance of pure dominance.
The solidity of McLaren, now always competitive, is no longer a surprise, according to Norris, who finishes 20 seconds behind Max Verstappen.
Oscar Piastri claimed his first podium in Formula 1. Ferrari remained behind McLaren in the race without ever being able to make any concrete attempts to attack.
However, the Maranello team managed to contain the possible return of the Mercedes, losing only the comparison with Hamilton, who finished ahead of Sainz.
Russell’s one-stop strategy did not pay off, with the Englishman finishing seventh.
Alonso and the two Alpine cars of Gasly and Ocon completed the top 10.
Author: Luca Vanzin
Translation: Jaden Diaz-Ndisang