Max Verstappen dominates in F1 Japanese GP win as Red Bull secures 2023 title, with Lando Norris second from Oscar Piastri.
It wasn’t the cleanest of starts in F1 Japanese GP at Suzuka especially outside the Top 3. Red Bull’s Max Verstappen went to his right to cover McLaren’s Oscar Piastri which allowed Lando Norris to take the line on the left and try to pounce on the Dutchman.
But Verstappen covered him off at Turn 1 to lead from Norris and Piastri. It was a four-wide moment behind with Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc on the extreme right and Mercedes’ Lewis Hamilton on the extreme left beside Red Bull’s Sergio Perez and Ferrari’s Carlos Sainz.
A small moment from Perez to not hit Sainz on his right meant he touched Hamilton who was on the grass for a moment. It was Leclerc in fourth from Sainz and Perez as Aston Martin’s Fernando Alonso gained places to be seventh with Hamilton in eighth.
His teammate George Russell was ninth from AlphaTauri’s Liam Lawson who went side-by-side with teammate Yuki Tsunoda at the start to snatch the track position. There was incident outside the Top 10 with another collision in a threw-wide moment.
Williams’ Alexander Albon was on the extreme left with Alfa Romeo’s Valtteri Bottas in the middle and Alpine’s Esteban Ocon on the right. A small moment from the Frenchman meant the Finn got sandwiched and suffered a puncture after colliding with the Thai.
The debris hit Alfa Romeo’s Zhou Guanyu which left him part stuck in his front wing. The safety car was deployed to clear the debris with few cars forced to pit which included Perez, when he was noted for a safety car infringement when entering the pits.
He seemingly overtook Alonso which resulted in a 5s time penalty. He had a further 5s time penalty for his collision with Haas’ Kevin Magnussen after re-start. The Mexican tried a bold move on the inside at the hairpin when his front right touched the Dane and he was spun.
They both pitted but Perez eventually retired. The corner also had a collision between Williams’ Logan Sargeant and Bottas when the Finn was spun around at re-start. The American was handed a 5s penalty after getting a pre-race 10s time penalty.
Verstappen, meanwhile, continued to lead from Norris and Piastri with Leclerc in fourth ahead of Sainz, Alonso, Hamilton, Russell, Lawson and Tsunoda in the Top 10. The Mercedes pair, though, went wheel-to-wheel on the main straight.
Russell got ahead of him in the final corner but Hamilton came back and retook the place. The two had another fight later when the latter went a bit wide at Degner 2 and allowed the former to get with him. But the aggression from Hamilton kept Russell off.
The former pitted straight up with the latter going a bit longer. Post the pit stops, Verstappen continued to lead F1 Japanese GP with Piastri jumping the queue after he pitted just when the Virtual Safety Car was deployed to clear debris from Perez incident.
But the Australian came under pressure from Norris soon with Leclerc and Sainz behind in the Top 5. Hamilton was sixth from Ocon and Alonso with Russell ninth from Alpine’s Pierre Gasly in the Top 10 where the Spaniard was pretty angry on the radio.
He decided to pit which allowed Russell through as he passed Ocon for seventh as the Frenchman was eighth from Gasly and Tsunoda in the Top 10. There was retirement spree after multiple damages for multiple drivers since the start of the grand prix.
Bottas was first to retire as he was followed by Perez, Aston Martin’s Lance Stroll and the Williams pair of Sargeant and Albon. At the front, Verstappen continued to lead as McLaren applied team orders to put Norris ahead of Piastri in the Top 3.
The Australian started to come under pressure from Leclerc along with Sainz who were clear from the Mercedes pair of Hamilton and Russell. After a stop from Ocon, it was Gasly in eighth from Alonso who climbed back up to ninth from Tsunoda in the Top 10.
The Spaniard was made aware of Stroll’s retirement due to rear wing problem as Red Bull interestingly readied Perez’s car to re-join the F1 Japanese GP. The Mexican eventually made it out to serve the 5s time penalty he had to be in the clear.
He eventually retired after doing that which erased any chance of a grid penalty in Qatar. The second round of pit stops kept Verstappen ahead of Norris as Piastri had to clear a to-be one-stopper Russell for third who soon had Leclerc on his tail.
The Monegasque went around the outside at Turn 1 and into Turn 2 to take fourth. It was Hamilton in sixth then from Sainz, Alonso, Ocon and Gasly in the Top 10. The tasty battle focused on the Mercedes pair against the Ferrari of Sainz.
Russell wanted to redo what Sainz did in Singapore by holding position but Mercedes instructed the Brit to give way to Hamilton which he did. They tried to give Russell a DRS from Hamilton but it didn’t work due to the tyre advantage for Ferrari.
He cleared Russell for sixth to set himself in the chase of Hamilton. At the front, Verstappen dominated to win F1 Japanese GP by 19.387s margin as Red Bull secured the 2023 constructors’ championship at the home event of Honda at Suzuka.
Norris was second from Piastri as McLaren completed a double podium for the first time in 2023 with Leclerc in fourth from Hamilton who held off Sainz for fifth. Russell had to be content with seventh from Alonso, Ocon and Gasly in the Top 10.
Lawson was 11th as he missed on points from Tsunoda, Guanyu and the Haas pair of Nico Hulkenberg and Kevin Magnussen where everyone from 11th until 15th finished a lap down on the leader. DNF: Albon, Sargeant, Stroll, Perez, Bottas.