Verstappen dominates in Suzuka to secure Red Bull’s sixth constructors’ championship

Spread the love
Photo credit: Red Bull Racing

After a lacklustre Singapore Grand Prix and a dominating qualifying performance it was Max Verstappen who would lead the field. Logan Sargeant was starting from pit lange after some unregulatory repairs to his Williams FW49.

At lights out it were both McLarens with a great start, but Verstappen countered into turn 2, leading the pack in front of Lando Norris and Oscar Piastri. Further back it is Carlos Sainz who aggressively tries to pass Sergio Pérez, who has to evade and hits Lewis Hamilton. This requires Pérez to get a new front wing.

Even further back it was Esteban Ocon who squeezed Valtteri Bottas, who subsequently almost launched Alex Albon. Some debris his Zhou Guanyu, requiring both Alfa Romeo’s to visit the pits.

Because of all the damage the Safety Car had to come out, but once the carbon fibre was cleaned up racing resumed, with immediately some pressure by Fernando Alonso behind Sainz. Bottas in the meantime gets turned around by Sargeant in the hairpin, requiring a detour through the gravel and yet another visit to the pits. One lap later he decides to retire as the car is undrivable.

Hamilton in the meantime is pressured by teammate George Russell who passes his veteran teammate in the Casio Triangle, but due to the better exit Hamilton can re-pass his teammate going into the first corner, with a cheeky move by the seven time champion just before turn-in.

Nico Hülkenberg is the first one to make a regular stop, saying goodbye to his soft tyres, quickly followed by Yuki Tsunoda. The soft rubber clearly is degrading to fast, as al soft-runners opt to lose that tyre.

The stewards have also been busy, issuing five second time penalties to Sargeant and Pérez for the collission and a safety car infringement respectively. The penalty for Checo is quickly serverd as the Mexican punts Kevin Magnussen in the hairpin, requiring him to get yet another front wing.

A Virtual Safety Car is issued for the debris, just as Piastri decides to part ways with his medium tyres. Once the VSC is finished Hamilton makes a small error in Degner 2, putting him under threat from his teammate, who tries the overtake on the outside of Spoon. Hamilton forces him wide, but the stewards decide to let it go.

Verstappen and Hamilton stop at the end of that lap, followed by Norris and Charles Leclerc a lap later. Leclerc makes the best of his new tyres by immediately passing Alonso and Ocon, who on his own had a great pass on Hülkenberg into turn 1 earlier in the race.

Hamilton makes error Degner 2 Russell outside spoon gets forced wide Verstappen and Ham box for hards. Norris and Leclerc stop a lap later. After his pitstop Hamilton passes Alonso into 130R, and immediately proceeds to pass Ocon into turn 1.

Lance Stroll retires as Pierre Gasly overtakes Liam Lawson on the outside for 11th. Russell stops in lap 21 for what seems to be his only stop, coming out behind Ocon and Alonso, who he passes quite quickly.

In the following laps both Williams drivers retire, as Norris asks to be swapped with Piastri, as the Briton is clearly quicker than the Ozzy. This swap happens a little while later, as we see Pérez preparing to get back into his car.

The race settles down a bit as Ocon makes his second stop. Alonso get’s notified of the rear wing failure of Stroll, with the request to avoid the kerbs as much as possible.

The second round of pitstops for the top teams is opened by Leclerc, who stops in lap 35 together with Hamilton. Piastri and Norris follow in the following laps, giving Verstappen the gap to make is final stop safely.

Norris gets back on track behind Russell, passing his compatriot on the first possible opportunity. Verstappen smashes the fastest lap, right at the moment that Pérez is sent back out again. After serving his penalty for the collission with Magnussen he’s requested to retire the car straight away.

Piastri in the meantime passes Russell, who clearly nurses his tyres. Leclerc follows a few laps later, mirroring the rookie’s outside overtake into turn 1. Hamilton and Sainz creep up to Russell as well, pressuring the young Briton. Russell get’s the instruction to swap with Hamilton, much to the dismay of the younger Mercedes driver.

Hamilton gives DRS to his teammate, but nonetheless Russell is passed by Sainz, as he doesn’t have the traction of the Ferrari. Sainz immediately gets on with it and closes in on Hamilton with just a few laps to go, but eventually runs out of laps.

Max Verstappen finishes first in a dominant fashion, completing the hat-trick and solidifying the Constructors’ World Championship for Red Bull Racing. Norris and Piastri complete the podium with a very solid race by both McLarens. Leclerc and Sainz sandwicht Hamilton on P5. Russell caps off his one stop strategy with a sixth place. Alonso comes home eighth before both Alpines.