Red Bull have clinched their sixth constructors championship, even though Sergio Perez was forced to retire from the race.
After a weekend when Red Bull seemed off the pace, F1 World champion Max Verstappen resumed the form that he’s been displaying all season long. Starting from Pole, he was never really threatened for the lead and he finished the race 19 seconds ahead of Lando Norris. This is the team’s 6th constructors championship (2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2022 and 2023), and they won it at the home of their engine supplier, Honda.
The McLarens of Lando Norris and Oscar Piastri finished in P2 and P3, respectively, completing the podium. The strong result sees McLaren inch closer towards Aston Martin for 4th place in the constructors championship.
- Perez retires early on
- Oscar Piastri secures his first F1 podium
- Verstappen can become world champion at Qatar
Verstappen gets back to business
The race start was particularly chaotic with multiple drivers making contact while negotiating turn 1 of Suzuka, which got out of the safety car at the end of lap 1. Sergio Perez was squeezed into the Mercedes of Lewis Hamilton and the Red Bull had to opt for a new front wing early on. Further down, Valtteri Bottas and Alex Albon collided when Bottas got squeezed and both cars had to pit for damage.
Ahead of all the drama was Max Verstappen, who was setting the fastest times right from Friday’s practice sessions. He started the race on Pole, with both McLaren drivers behind him. However, apart from the initial pressure at the start of the Grand Prix by the papaya cars, his race lead was never fully under threat. He finished the race 19.3 seconds ahead of Lando Norris and even secured a point for setting the fastest lap towards the end. This was the rookie driver, Oscar Piastri’s first-ever F1 podium.
The Ferrari of Charles Leclerc finished in P4 while his teammate Carlos Sainz split the pair of Mercedes drivers and finished in P6. Lewis Hamilton was in P5 and Geroge Russel finished in P7, after briefly leading the GP, but ultimately falling back due to a gamble with his tyres. Alonso finished in P8, with the Alpines of Ocon and Gasly completing the top 10.
5 retirements at the Japan GP
Following the first lap incident, multiple drivers dived into the pits for repairs, before heading back out. However, there was soon more drama to follow. Sergio Perez received a 10-second penalty for overtaking under safety car conditions. When Perez got a new wing and was fighting to regain positions, he collided with Kevin Magnussen, which prompted the team to ask him to retire the Red Bull. Surprisingly, he did come back on track many laps later to serve his time penalty, as the team did not want to receive a grid penalty at the next race in Qatar.
After his first lap incident, Bottas was struck again, this time by rookie Logan Sargent, and the Alfa Romeo driver retired his car. Both the Williams drivers were forced to retire as well. Lance Stroll started from 17th on the grid but made up 6 places on the soft tyre. He was running in P11 at one point but ultimately faced a rear-wing failure and the car was retired.
Verstappen can be declared F1 champion in Qatar
With his victory, and Perez’s retirement, Verstappen now holds a 177-point lead over his nearest championship rival, Sergio Perez. He can win the championship at the next race in Qatar. Interestingly, Red Bull has never secured a 1-2 finish in the drivers’ championship and they could achieve that if Perez regains his form and avoids dropping more points as Mercedes driver Lewis Hamilton is just 33 points away from the second position in the championship.
2023 Japan GP race results
|2023 Japan GP race results|
|1||Max Verstappen||Red Bull Racing|
|8||Fernando Alonso||Aston Martin|
|11||Liam Lawson||Alpha Tauri|
|12||Yuki Tsunoda||Alpha Tauri|
|13||Zhou Guanyu||Alfa Romeo|
|NC||Lance Stroll||Aston Martin|
|NC||Sergio Perez||Red Bull Racing|
|NC||Valtteri Bottas||Alfa Romeo|