Verstappen returns to winning ways and gives Red Bull the title
Max Verstappen has returned to winning ways in the Grand Prix of Japan. The two-time world champion drove dominantly to victory just like he used to. With his points, he has ensured that Red Bull has won the constructors championship with six races to go in the season.
Verstappen picked up his 13th win of the season. He is close to his third world title and could win it in the next race in Qatar. He struggled with his Red Bull car in Singapore a week ago and fought to a fifth-place spot. At the circuit in Suzuka, he was easily the fastest and kept the competition at bay with a perfect race. Lando Norris of McLaren finished in second with an almost 20-second deficit, and his teammate Oscar Piastri came third.
The mechanics and engineers of Red Bull are still trying to figure out why Verstappen’s car struggled last week on the street circuit of Singapore, but the problems were clearly the nature of the track, as there were no issues in Suzuka. Verstappen drove easily and smoothly in his RB19 from the first lap and had the dominant car that helped him pick up so many victories this season, including a historic record of ten races won in a row.
Verstappen did have to work hard in Japan to keep the top spot in the first lap. Piastri and Norris pushed in their McLarens and tried to pass the Dutchman on the first corner. But the two-time world champion cut the corner off well and came out the first lap as leader.
The safety car was immediately called in the race as many vehicles collided at the back and caused some damage. Sergio Pérez hit Lewis Hamilton and had to enter the pits for a new front wing. Perez was involved in another collision later in the race and once again had to go in for a new front wing; he was also given a time penalty. The Mexican decided to quit the race after fifteen laps.
The quick exit of Perez seemed a disappointment for Red Bull as the Mexican could now get no points to bring home the constructors championship. Verstappen ensured that Red Bull was too many points ahead of Mercedes come the end of the race to win the team title for the second year in a row.
Reporting by ANP