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Max Verstappen is back to his winning ways. The two-time champion won the Japanese Grand Prix in dominant fashion, inching closer to his third consecutive title while securing back-to-back constructors’ crowns for Red Bull.
Japanese GP result: Who won the race?
Max Verstappen won the Japanese GP. The Dutchman had a relatively uneventful race despite facing an early safety car restart. Lando Norris finished second, with McLaren teammate Oscar Piastri completing the rostrum for his maiden F1 podium. Sergio Perez had a disastrous day, breaking two front wings in separate collisions. The Mexican had to retire, effectively ending his title chances.
Start chaos as Verstappen retains the lead
Verstappen had a slightly slower getaway, and had to move to the inside in order to cover Piastri. The defensive maneuver allowed Norris to go for the lead around the outside. Verstappen managed to fend off the British driver, retaining the lead. Piastri dropped to third, behind his McLaren teammate.
Down the order, Valtteri Bottas also got squeezed towards the outside, making contact with Alexander Albon and losing the right endplate of his front wing. In a rather unlucky coincidence, the broken piece hit his teammate Zhou Guanyu and damaged the Chinese driver’s own front wing.
There was more action between teammates, as AlphaTauri duo Liam Lawson and Yuki Tsunoda went side-by-side through the Esses and Dunlop. The Kiwi rookie eventually got past, moving up to ninth.
The track was littered with debris, prompting an early safety car intervention.
Action-packed restart, Verstappen pulls away
The race restarted on lap 6, and Verstappen quickly pulled away by over two seconds. George Russell pulled off an aggressive move on his teammate Hamilton, diving down the inside of the Casio Triangle for seventh. Hamilton got the tow down the straight and returned the favor with a move around the outside into turn 1.
On lap 13, Perez had another self-inflicted wound: having already picked up a five-second penalty for overtaking under SC, the Mexican attempted a late dive down the inside of Kevin Magnussen into the hairpin. The pair collided, which sent Magnussen spinning around. While Perez had to pit for his third front wing, the debris left by the crash prompted a virtual safety car.
Piastri and Norris go back-and-forth for second
Piastri took the chance to pit for hards just before the VSC, which ultimately allowed him to jump teammate Norris back for second. Perez had to retire, all but ending his already dim title hopes.
Verstappen pitted for mediums on lap 16 to cover Piastri’s undercut. Hamilton had a brief off-track excursion on Degner 2, allowing Russell to close in for seventh. The younger Brit attempted a move around the outside of Spoon, but was forced out of track by his teammate. Norris dove into the pits a lap later for hards, dropping behind Piastri.
Norris closed down the gap to Piastri for second. Despite some early defense from the Aussie rookie, the Brit was eventually let through on lap 27.
Charles Leclerc was the first of the front-runners to pit, diving in on lap 35. Piastri followed suit a lap later to cover the undercut, prompting Norris and Verstappen to do the same over the following two laps.
The pair emerged behind Russell, who was going for a one-stopper. On much fresher rubber, Norris and Piastri had little trouble getting around the Mercedes.
Verstappen crossed the line 19.2s ahead of Norris, picking up the bonus point for the fastest lap. The result secured Red Bull’s sixth constructors’ title.
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