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F1: Verstappen back to winning ways in Japan

April 07, 2024 13:36 IST

Verstappen leads home Perez for Red Bull one-two.

Red Bull's Max Verstappen celebrates with the trophy on the podium after winning the Japanese Grand Prix at Suzuka Circuit, Suzuka, on Sunday.

IMAGE: Red Bull's Max Verstappen celebrates with the trophy on the podium after winning the Japanese Grand Prix at Suzuka Circuit, Suzuka, on Sunday. Photograph: Issei Kato/Reuters

World champion Max Verstappen got back to winning ways on Sunday with a third straight pole-to-flag victory at the Japanese Formula One Grand Prix, leading teammate Sergio Perez across the line for a Red Bull 1-2 at Suzuka.

The Dutchman suffered his first retirement since 2022 in Melbourne last time out to snap a nine-race winning streak but had no mechanical issues this week as he made it three wins from four races this season.


Spaniard Carlos Sainz, the winner in Australia two weeks ago, rode fresher tyres in the latter stages of the race to edge Ferrari team mate Charles Leclerc, who used a one-stop strategy, out of the final podium spot in third place.

"You know it was a little hiccup of course the last race but very happy that we are here back on top," said Dutchman Verstappen, who finished 12.535 seconds clear of his team mate and also had the fastest lap.

Perez jumped above Leclerc into second place in the drivers championship, 13 points behind his team mate.

"I think we have good momentum. I think if we are strong in places like this with a lot of high speed corners ... we can be strong anywhere else," said the Mexican.

Sainz, who will be replaced at Ferrari next season by Mercedes' Lewis Hamilton, said after the race he was worried he was on the wrong strategy.

"It was quite tough out there ... I thought that maybe one stop was quicker and we were on the two. I had to overtake a lot of cars out there today," said Sainz.

McLaren's Lando Norris finished fifth with the Mercedes pair of George Russell and seven-times champion Hamilton down in seventh and ninth.

Aston Martin's Fernando Alonso finished sixth, with McLaren's Oscar Piastri eighth.

RB's Yuki Tsunoda finished 10th, securing points in his home grand prix for the first time to the delight of the crowd.

Red Bull lead the constructor standings on 141 points ahead of Ferrari (120) and McLaren (69).

Alex Albon's Williams and the RB of Daniel Ricciardo crashed into each other on the opening lap, triggering a red flag and a 30 minute delay while the debris was cleared and a barrier repaired. Both drivers emerged unscathed.

The wreck is another headache for Williams, who remain without a spare chassis for the next race in China, and for Ricciardo, who is under pressure having underperformed his less experienced team mate Tsunoda this season.

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