Red Bull’s Redemption in Japan

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No. 33 Max Verstappen car racing at the Japanese Grand Prix. Photo courtesy of Takayuki Suzuki.

Team Red Bull won its second straight Constructors Championship title in Suzuka, Japan for the Japanese Grand Prix on the Suzuka International Racing Course. 

Max Verstappen clenched a first place finish, after his fifth place weekend in Singapore that put an end to  his 10 consecutive win streak. Verstappen gifted his team its sixth Constructors Championship, with six races left in the season to spare. 

“Fantastic weekend, first of all, I think the pace has been amazing,” Verstappen told the Red Bull Instagram. “It’s been really enjoyable to drive. Very proud of the whole team, the whole year already, I think we’ve been really dominant.”

Max Verstappen holds a 145-point lead over Red Bull teammate Sergio Perez with eight of 23 rounds remaining.

Perez retired his car twice from the Grand Prix. The first time Perez was forced to retire because of earlier damages to the car that happened during Turn 1 of the starting lap. The Red Bull driver got into a dog fight with Lewis Hamilton’s Mercedes along with the two Ferrari cars of Carlos Sainz and Charles Leclerc. Perez was sandwiched between Sainz and Hamilton making  contact between cars, damaging the front wing, setting the tone for the rest of his race.

“He got sort of concertinaed down to Turn One. He picked up some front-wing damage, then we needed to change the front wing.” Christian Horner, for team Chief for team Red Bull said over the radio.

Perez pitted his car around Lap 12, after he had dropped down the grid from his damage. Perez, while entering the pit lanes, received a five-second penalty for passing another driver in a pit lane under safety car conditions; he and the team served the penalty patiently in the pits. 

In an attempt to pass Kevin Magnussen, the Haas driver, on the way out of the pits and back onto the Suzuka track, Perez dove into the left rear wheel of Magnussen, sending it spinning. Perez was charged with another penalty and too damaged of a car to continue the race. 

He soon came back out on the track closer to the end of the race to attempt the No. 19 car again, but after a couple of more laps Perez had to retire from the race for a second time. 

“After fixing the car we then had a penalty to serve, which we did, and then brought the car in,” Perez reported in the post race. 

Despite the retirement of one car, Red Bull still took the pole finish with Verstappen and ended the race to the Constructors League Championship with 623 points.  

Team Mercedes are currently second for the most constructors points, for the second year in a row they finish behind team Red Bull. Driver Hamilton gave his thoughts on what his team needs to do in order to prevent another season like this. 

“I have no idea where the car is going to be next year but we are a long, long way away,” Hamilton told Sky Sports after the Suzuka race.

“The next six months have got to be the greatest six months of development that we’ve ever, ever had to close that gap. To be really banging on the door.”

Mercedes are allegedly making quite a few changes to its cars for the 2024 season, to be competitive against team Red Bull.

Team Mclaren earned a double podium in Japan, with driver Lando Norris coming in second overall, and teammate, Oscar Piastri, coming in third. This puts team Mclearen in fifth for the Constructor’s League with 172 points. Its drivers currently hold the seventh and ninth most points, Norris with 115, and Piastri with 57 points. Piastri received “driver of the day” for his performance in Japan. 

Ferrari is currently third for constructors league points after a fourth place finish by French driver, Charles Leclerc, along with a P6 finish by the team’s Spanish driver, and Singapore race winner, Carlos Sainz. Ferrari currently stands with 285 points after the Japanese race, only 20 points behind team Mercedes. 

The next Formula 1 race is scheduled on Oct. 8 and is going to take place in Qatar, for the Qatar Grand Prix at the Losail International Circuit. 

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