Japanese GP: Verstappen wins at Suzuka, sealing constructors’ title for Red Bull team
Max Verstappen continued his winning streak in Formula 1 at the Japanese Grand Prix. The two-time world champion drove to victory in his usual dominant manner. With the points he won, he also secured the constructors' world title for the Red Bull team six races before the end of the season. "That title was a big goal this year and to win it so early is very special. I am very proud of it," said the Dutchman shortly after his dominant victory in the Japanese Grand Prix.
Constructors Champions of the world!!! 🏆— Max Verstappen (@Max33Verstappen) September 24, 2023
What an unbelievable season we’re having 🙌 I couldn’t be more proud to be part of this @redbullracing 🙌 Everyone working on the track and back in the factory, thank you so much. What a rocket ship 🚀
It’s amazing to achieve this… pic.twitter.com/c1MHnjukCr
Verstappen himself drove to his 13th victory of the year. He is heading for his third world title and could win it as early as the next race in Qatar. A week ago, he struggled to finish fifth in his Red Bull at the Singapore Grand Prix. At the Suzuka circuit, Verstappen was again by far the fastest and the Dutchman outpaced the competition in a flawless race. McLaren driver Lando Norris was second, almost 20 seconds behind, while his teammate Oscar Piastri finished third.
"It's been an incredible year. The team has really built a rocket of a car. The car worked well on every tire, I was further ahead on every lap," Verstappen continued. "I just had to be careful at the start, because I had a little too much wheelspin and those guys from McLaren were close to me," the Dutchman said.
“Op zaterdag kun je toch ook drinken ’s avonds…?” 🤣— Viaplay Sport Nederland (@viaplaysportnl) September 24, 2023
Max moet minstens 6e worden tijdens de Sprintrace in Qatar om zijn 3e wereldkampioenschap te pakken. 🏆
➟ https://t.co/30lPmgn2FI#ViaplaySportNL #ViaplayF1 #RedBull #MaxVerstappen pic.twitter.com/FOCSuYIltH
However, the Red Bull team's mechanics and engineers are still baffled as to why Verstappen failed to make progress on the Singapore street circuit last week, but the problems were clearly due to the nature of that circuit, as there were no problems at Suzuka. Verstappen drove consistently and quickly in the RB19 from the first lap and once again had the dominant car with which he has been on a winning streak this season and has already set a historic record of ten consecutive victories.
Verstappen had to pull out all the stops to hold on to first place at the start in Japan. Piastri and Norris put on the pressure in their McLarens and tried to overtake the Dutchman before the first corner. But the two-time world champion deftly pulled out of the corner and came through the first series of turns in the lead.
The safety car immediately came onto the track as some cars at the back of the field crashed into each other and caused damage. Sergio Pérez bumped into Lewis Hamilton and immediately had to go to the pit lane to get a new front wing. Later, Pérez was involved in another collision, had to pit again to fit a new front wing, and also received a time penalty. Disappointed, the Mexican decided to retire from the race after just 15 laps.
Pérez's quick retirement appeared to be a setback for Red Bull, as the Mexican failed to score any points for the constructors' championship. However, Verstappen single-handedly ensured that Red Bull had enough of a lead over rivals Mercedes after the race to secure the team title for the second year in a row.
Verstappen can win his third world title in the Qatar Grand Prix in two weeks. That's five races to go. His lead over his teammate Sergio Pérez, who crashed out early at the Japanese Grand Prix and failed to score any points, is now 177 points. That means Verstappen could clinch the title as early as Saturday's sprint race in Qatar. "Who knows," Verstappen said on Viaplay. "And then if we win the race on Sunday, we can celebrate twice."
Red Bull team boss Christian Horner spared no superlatives in praising Verstappen's 13th win this year and sixth constructors' title in Red Bull history. "That was the most fantastic race and it's the most fantastic year for us. We have to thank the guys who are doing their job on the tracks, but also the guys and gals who are doing their best at the factory in Milton Keynes. And of course, Max is on another level at the moment."
Reporting by ANP