Max Verstappen dominates Japanese Grand Prix, Red Bull clinches sixth Constructors’ Championship
FiredUp Network Sports Writer
Sunday, September 24, 2023
Photo Credit: Motorsport.com
Following Red Bull Racing's nightmare weekend in Singapore that saw them fail to score a win, or a podium for the first time all season, everyone knew it would be business as usual in Japan.
Not only is the RB19 simply the best car on the grid by a landslide at every track bar Marina Bay, Suzuka in Japan is perhaps the circuit best suited to its biggest strengths; high speed corners, and long straights.
And just as everybody expected, Max Verstappen and the Austrian outfit were back on top.
After taking pole position by over four tenths on Saturday, Verstappen held the lead off the start, and breezed his way to his second Japanese Grand Prix victory, helping clinch Red Bull clinch the Constructors' World Championship far before the end of the season.
Red Bull's latest title was their second in succession, and sixth overall in their 19 years as a Formula 1 team. On the side of Verstappen, he took his 13th victory in 16 tries this year, and now has his first chance of winning his third World Championship come the Qatar Grand Prix in two weeks' time.
But even amongst the return to the top, and all of the championship glory, it wasn't all sunshine for the Milton Keynes team. Sergio Perez qualified a disappointing fifth place on Saturday, seemingly struggling in the high speed first sector, before having two separate incidents with Lewis Hamilton and Kevin Magnussen, and thus retiring from the race.
The Mexican then bizarrely re-entered the race later on to serve his penalty for hitting Magnussen, before retiring for a second time a lap later. Red Bull sent him back out so that he wouldn't have to carry the penalty to Qatar next time out.
Finishing the race in second was Lando Norris, ahead of his teammate Oscar Piastri in third for a double McLaren podium, showing the incredible growth of the papaya squad in such a short time. Australian rookie Piastri earned his first ever top three finish after qualifying an impressive P2 on Saturday.
Fourth was the Ferrari of Charles Leclerc, who maximized the Italian team's afternoon on what was a more difficult weekend pace-wise, considering their recent success.
Hamilton came home fifth, ahead of Carlos Sainz in sixth for Ferrari, and Mercedes' George Russell in seventh. The Mercedes duo squabbled all race long, and has several testy radio exchanges before Hamilton was ordered past Russell late on, with the Mercedes sophomore struggling on old tires.
Fernando Alonso finished eighth for the ever-struggling Aston Martin team, ahead of the two Alpines of Esteban Ocon and Pierre Gasly who rounded out the points finishers.