Max Verstappen returned to winning ways in Formula 1 after finishing ahead of McLaren pair Lando Norris and Oscar Piastri at the Japanese GP.
The Dutch driver’s haul of 26 points pushed Red Bull over the line to clinch their second consecutive constructors’ championship despite teammate Sergio Perez’s retirement at Suzuka.
We look at who were the biggest winners and losers of the race.
● Max Verstappen – The Dutch driver was untouchable in Japan and scored his 12th win in 2023. Verstappen’s pole qualifying lap was half a second faster than Norris’. He comfortably held the two McLarens off at the start and bagged the fastest lap of the race to cap off a perfect weekend.
● Red Bull – There is no denying the brilliance of the RB19. It went on a run of 15 straight victories that stretched back to 2022. The team’s lofty standards have seen them win back-to-back constructors’ championships.
● McLaren – Zak Brown’s team reduced the constructors’ points standings deficit with Aston Martin to 49 after finishing second and third in Japan. F1 rookie Oscar Piastri started on the front row and had to settle for third place for his maiden podium finish. His teammate Lando Norris had the better race pace and finished behind Verstappen.
● Liam Lawson – The young New Zealand driver again performed brilliantly as he deputised for Daniel Ricciardo in the AlphaTauri. The 21-year-old shrugged off the disappointment of not securing a seat at the Italian in 2024 by finishing in 11th place. Crucially, he kept teammate Yuki Tsunoda at bay in the closing laps to cap off a gritty performance.
● Mercedes – Lewis Hamilton and George Russell finished fifth and seventh after they squabbled during the race. The pair both felt the race strategy was unclear and Russell’s reluctance to allow Hamilton passed was indicative of that decision. “Who do we want to fight here, each other or the others?” Russell pointedly asked the team over the radio.
● Sergio Perez – The Mexican had a race to forget after qualifying fifth, behind the McLarens and a Ferrari. He made contact at the start, suffered a pit entry penalty, clashed with Haas’ Kevin Magnussen, and damaged the RB19’s front wing. He changed his wing and served the penalty. A quarter of an hour later the team asked him to rejoin to serve a second penalty for Magnussen. The Mexican only then retired.
● Logan Sargeant – The American driver had a tough debut at Suzuka and only completed 22 laps. He severely damaged the FW45 in Q1 and was hit with a 10-second penalty before the race. Sargeant failed to find consistency and left the Williams mechanics with a tough job to get his car ready multiple times. A clash with Valtteri Bottas ultimately made sure the Americans met his demise in Japan. The likelihood of the rookie continuing in F1 next season doesn’t look rosy, particularly with the form of Lawson.