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Formula 1 Japanese Grand Prix Preview

Red Bull and Max Verstappen can celebrate in Japan this weekend if the Dutch driver wins the Grand Prix and picks up a point for the fastest lap.

Red Bull and Max Verstappen can celebrate in Japan this weekend if the Dutch driver wins the Grand Prix and picks up a point for the fastest lap.

However, a dark cloud is hanging over the team as it is rumoured to have exceeded the $145 million budget cap last season. The FIA will release a report on Monday 10 October, although it is unlikely the team will face serious sanctions.

Turning our attention to this weekend’s race, the Japanese GP returns to the calendar after a Covid-19 enforced break in the last two years. The Japanese fans are some of the most passionate in the world, and their Suzuka track is iconic. The rapid track is a favourite among drivers, with the flat-out 130R a particular highlight. The 5.8km-long track features the ‘S’ Curves and even has a unique crossover section. The 53 laps will be all-out pedal to the metal, and cars with high top-end speed will be rewarded.

Verstappen heads into this weekend looking to claim his first win in Japan, it would be a particularly sweet win with it being engine manufacturer Honda’s home race. Both Red Bull and AlphaTauri will sport the carmaker’s logo this weekend.

The Dutch driver qualified eighth and could only muster seventh position at last weekend’s Singapore Grand Prix. A rookie error saw Max lose out on pole position due to not carrying enough fuel, and he aborted his lap. Japan poses a new test for the world champion, and he knows a perfect weekend is needed to beat teammate Sergio Perez who held off Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc for the win last Sunday.

Ferrari scored a double podium finish and could’ve had the win were it not for a bad start by Leclerc. Carlos Sainz will look to keep the momentum after scoring fourth and third places in the last two Grand Prix.

Mercedes will look to spoil Max’s race and give Ferrari a hard time and we’ll watch closely how well Lewis Hamilton and George Russell can maintain their tyres in Suzuka. Another team to watch out for is McLaren, who scored a great result in Singapore with Lando Norris finishing fourth and Daniel Ricciardo claiming the fifth spot. McLaren is now four points ahead of closest rivals Alpine in the constructors’ championship and will look to increase that lead. The two-time world champion Fernando Alonso will hope his 351st race start is better than the previous one that saw him retire in a balmy Singapore.

To end off, Verstappen’s F1 career can come full circle this weekend in Japan. He became the youngest driver to feature in an F1 session at the 2014 Japanese Grand Prix practice.

Verstappen, Perez, Hamilton

Fastest lap: Verstappen

Pole position: Verstappen

First to retire: Nicholas Latifi

Most Team Points: Red Bull

Both Cars Qualify for Q3 Shootout: Ferrari

Free Practice 1/2/3 Winning Car: Verstappen / Red Bull

Safety Car: Yes

Top 6: Norris

Top 10: Ricciardo, Vettel, Gasly

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