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There was a lot going on in the Japanese Grand Prix, with battles all over the field, except the very top as Max Verstappen dominated. Let’s assess everyone’s race, through the Japanese GP driver ratings.
Max Verstappen – 1st: 10
- 1 Max Verstappen – 1st: 10
- 2 Lando Norris – 2nd: 8.5
- 3 Oscar Piastri – 3rd: 8.5
- 4 Charles Leclerc – 4th: 7.5
- 5 Lewis Hamilton – 5th: 7
- 6 Carlos Sainz – 6th: 7
- 7 George Russell – 7th: 6
- 8 Fernando Alonso – 8th: 7
- 9 Esteban Ocon – 9th: 7.5
- 10 Pierre Gasly – 10th: 6.5
- 11 Liam Lawson – 11th: 7
- 12 Yuki Tsunoda – 12th: 5
- 13 Guanyu Zhou – 13th: 4.5
- 14 Nico Hulkenberg – 14th: 4.5
- 15 Kevin Magnussen – 15th: 5
- 16 Alex Albon – DNF: 5
- 17 Logan Sargeant – DNF: 1.5
- 18 Lance Stroll – DNF: 3
- 19 Sergio Perez – DNF: 1
- 20 Valtteri Bottas – DNF: 5
Max Verstappen has produced lots of dominant performances in 2023, but this might just be the best of the bunch. From Friday, the Dutchman looked set to reclaim top spot and an impressive lap gave him pole by almost six tenths of a second. No problems on race day, as he completed another hat trick with the fastest lap.
Lando Norris – 2nd: 8.5
What a result from McLaren this weekend, headed by Lando Norris finishing second for the second time in a row. He may have started behind his teammate and also dropped behind him after the first round of stops thanks to the Virtual Safety Car, but he got past thanks to team orders and beat the rookie by fifteen seconds.
Oscar Piastri – 3rd: 8.5
A memorable weekend for Oscar Piastri, who started from the first row for the first time in his career and backed it up by his first podium finish. He managed the race perfectly and the podium never looked in doubt. Perhaps a bit more was achievable, but it won’t matter too much for him today.
Charles Leclerc – 4th: 7.5
A bit of a stagnant race for Charles Leclerc in Suzuka, as he didn’t threaten the cars ahead and was not threatened by those behind. Fourth was the best he could do, as he regained a bit of his lost form and came out on top of his teammate for the first time since the summer break.
Lewis Hamilton – 5th: 7
A race of plenty of battles for Lewis Hamilton, including a couple of scraps against his own teammate. In the end, Hamilton was on the right strategy and, despite nearly losing fifth from Sainz, he maintains his great form this season, as he establishes himself clear in the battle for third in the standings.
Carlos Sainz – 6th: 7
A week after winning in Singapore, Carlos Sainz had a much different day in Suzuka. Having spent most of the day in the top five, a bit of a different strategy saw him lose out on Hamilton. Still a positive result on a difficult weekend, much of which found him behind his teammate.
George Russell – 7th: 6
George Russell was the only driver from the top to gamble on an one-stop strategy. It might not have gained him any positions, but it didn’t cost him any either, so it was really not effective. His battles with his teammate were very interesting, but they ended up the wrong way for him.
Fernando Alonso – 8th: 7
A frustrating race for Fernando Alonso, as he made known over team radio, but in the end he probably got the maximum achievable result. Starting on soft tyres, he executed the opening few corners brilliantly, gaining four positions to sixth. His pace wasn’t as good and his strategy led him into traffic, making his race interesting, and a bit spicy.
Esteban Ocon – 9th: 7.5
From fourteenth on the grid and a pitstop on the opening lap, to a points finish for Esteban Ocon. A very steady race by the Frenchman, who effectively run an one-stop strategy after the first lap and utilised the pace of the Alpine and a bit of tyre management to make into ninth, re-passing his teammate in the closing laps through team orders.
Pierre Gasly – 10th: 6.5
Starting from twelfth, points were always the goal for Pierre Gasly and that was achieved in the end. It was a quiet race from his side, as he made it into the top ten from early on and maintained good pace to run as high as ninth, as he scores points in consecutive races for the first time since early June.
Liam Lawson – 11th: 7
Yet another great performance from Liam Lawson, on a weekend he found out he will not get an Alpha Tauri seat despite his good pace in his first F1 races. He finished where he started, but he managed to beat his teammate on level terms in the race, as he narrowly missed out on more points.
Yuki Tsunoda – 12th: 5
Starting ninth on home turf, Yuki Tsunoda would have hoped for more on race day. It did not pan out that way though, as he dropped behind his teammate after an entertaining battle on the opening lap. He got ahead in the middle part of the Grand Prix, but crossed the finish line behind him.
Guanyu Zhou – 13th: 4.5
Guanyu Zhou was an innocent bystander as he sustained damage in the start, having started nineteenth. Even without it though, he was not looking likely to score points and he had a quiet Grand Prix the rest of the way through.
Nico Hulkenberg – 14th: 4.5
By the high standards he has himself set this season, qualifying eighteenth was a disappointment for Nico Hulkenberg and also an indication about how Haas performed in Japan. The race was better and he finished ahead of his teammate, albeit with a bit of outside help.
Kevin Magnussen – 15th: 5
Haas struggling in Japan made things difficult for Kevin Magnussen too. Making it into Q2 was his weekend’s highlight, but on a day when tyre wear was considerably big, expectations were low and the clash with Perez, in which he was an innocent victim, certainly made things tougher. He may have finished where he started, but he was the last finisher at Suzuka.
Alex Albon – DNF: 5
Williams expected a stronger weekend in Japan, compared to Singapore, but it didn’t materialise. Alex Albon started thirteenth and he found himself in the middle of accidents on the first lap. He had a short flight and sustained damage, but tried to keep going. It was all in vain though, he was not competitive and parked his car halfway through.
Logan Sargeant – DNF: 1.5
A terrible weekend for Logan Sargeant, which started with him needing to have his chassis, engine and many more components replaced after a crash in qualifying. The race was not much better, as a mistake led to him crashing into Valtteri Bottas and getting penalised for it. Just what he did not need as he tries to salvage his F1 career.
Lance Stroll – DNF: 3
Coming back after his non-participation in the Singapore GP, Lance Stroll had another anonymous event. He qualified at the back again, in seventeenth. In the Grand Prix, he gained positions through the chaos on the first lap, but gradually dropped back before retiring as a result of rear wing damage.
Sergio Perez – DNF: 1
Frankly, a terrible weekend for Sergio Perez. While Max Verstappen has simply been dominant, the Mexican qualified fifth. A clash on the opening lap led to damage on his front wing. He made a rudimentary error exiting the pitlane, which earned him a five-second penalty, but the big error came when he took out Magnussen at the hairpin. His misery ended soon thereafter, despite a brief return.
Valtteri Bottas – DNF: 5
A day to forget for Valtteri Bottas, who qualified sixteenth, but was tagged by Ocon at the start and Sargeant on the first lap after the safety car. An early retirement after a nightmare race for the Finn, through no fault of his own.
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