Verstappen cruises to victory in Suzuka

Max Verstappen crossed the line with a 12.5s lead over teammate Sergio Perez

SUZUKA, JAPAN - APRIL 07: Max Verstappen of the Netherlands driving the (1) Oracle Red Bull Racing RB20 on track during the F1 Grand Prix of Japan at Suzuka International Racing Course on April 07, 2024 in Suzuka, Japan. (Photo by Clive Mason/Getty Images) // Getty Images / Red Bull Content Pool // SI202404070203 // Usage for editorial use only //

Max Verstappen secured a comfortable win at the Japanese Grand Prix, crossing the line 12.5 seconds ahead of his teammate in Suzuka.

The Dutchman came home ahead of Sergio Perez, with Carlos Sainz completing the top three.

The red flag was out just a few corners into the race after Alex Albon and Daniel Ricciardo came together, sending both into the tyre barrier – the replays showed Ricciardo was looking to his left when he moved across to the right, unaware Albon was on his outside.

The impact of the collision dislodged the tyres, leading to a lengthy delay while repairs were carried out.

Less than 10 laps after the race resumed, Lando Norris was the first of the frontrunners to stop as McLaren tooked to make the most of the undercut, and when Sainz stopped a few laps later he rejoined behind the Briton, having led him ahead of the stops.

Guanyu Zhou’s day came to an early finish when his Sauber developed a gearbox issue.

Charles Leclerc was the only driver towards the front of the order to extend his stint, but he was repassed by Verstappen before stopping, before running wide while trying to keep Perez behind him.

The Mercedes cars tried to make it to the end of the race with only one pitstop, but both drivers started to lose positions, forcing the team to bring both in.

With George Russell showing strong pace on new tyres, McLaren decided to stop Norris again early to undercut the Mercedes, but Norris was stuck behind Leclerc on his in lap, giving Russell the advantage.

Leclerc’s one-stop strategy promoted him up to third once the other frontrunners had made their second stops, with Norris and Sainz both closing in on the Monegasque driver on fresher tyres.

Logan Sargeant came close to a crash when he ran wide into the gravel, but the Williams driver managed to reverse back onto the track and continue in the race, albeit with a very dusty car.

With 10 laps to go, Sainz closed in on the rear of Norris’s McLaren, and eased up to fourth, leaving him with a two-second gap to close for the final place on the podium.

With much fresher tyres, it took the Spaniard just a couple of laps to catch his teammate and move up to third.

Russell tried to move up the order in the closing stages of the race, with just a second separating him, Oscar Piastri and Fernando Alonso, but Russell made contact with Piastri, forcing the Australian wide and allowing him to keep seventh place.

Russell kept the pressure on though, forcing an error from Piastri which allowed the Mercedes driver to power past on the main straight on the final lap of the race.

Provisional classification:

1 Max Verstappen (Red Bull)

2. Sergio Perez (Red Bull)

3. Carlos Sainz (Ferrari)

4. Charles Leclerc (Ferrari)

5. Lando Norris (McLaren)

6. Fernando Alonso (Aston Martin)

7. George Russell (Mercedes)

8. Oscar Piastri (McLaren)

9. Lewis Hamilton (Mercedes)

10. Yuki Tsunoda (VCARB)

11. Nico Hulkenberg (Haas)

12. Lance Stroll (Aston Martin)

13. Kevin Magnussen (Haas)

14. Valtteri Bottas (Sauber)

15. Esteban Ocon (Alpine)

16. Pierre Gasly (Alpine)

17. Logan Sargeant (Williams)


Guanyu Zhou (Sauber)

Daniel Ricciardo (VCARB)

Alex Albon (Williams)

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