F1 2023: Max Verstappen back to winning, as Red Bull seal Constructors’ Championship at Japanese GP – Times of India

F1 2023: Max Verstappen back to winning, as Red Bull seal Constructors' Championship at Japanese GP - Times of India


Normal services have resumed as it was Max Verstappen standing on the top step of the podium once again. With his win, Red Bull have sealed their claim over the Constructors’ Championship at Suzuka. It took just 16 races for Red Bull to win the championship. This is Red Bull’s sixth Constructor’s title while Max cruised to his 13th victory this season. Joining him were two McLarens with Lando Norris in P2 and Osace Piastri in P3. Max’s teammate, Sergio Perez had a torrid day and did not finish the race.

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It was a race where we saw a lot of teammates fighting with each other. The start saw the two Alpha Tauri’s scrapping for 10th position and the two Mercedes were fighting each other as well.
There was a lot of melee at the start of the with a number of cars coming in contact at the first turn. There were two incidents with the first one starting off after Carlos Sainz got a great start, resulting in four cars going side by side including that of Leclerc, Perez and Hamilton. This resulted in Hamilton being pushed wide by Perez and Perez receiving front wing damage. The second and much more damaging incident involved Alex Albon, Valtteri Bottas and Zhou Guanyu. Albon, starting from P19, made contact with the front left wheel of Valterri Bottas’ Alfa Romeo. The debris from the collision was bad for the other Alfa Romeo of Zhou. Fernando Alonso was a big winner at the start going up from P10 to P6. Perez and Bottas came back to the pits under the Safety Car to get their damaged front wing replaced.
Further up, Max Verstappen was sandwiched between the two McLarens but was able to stay ahead. Even before the first lap could end, the Safety Car was released onto the track because of the debris on the track.
After the restart, Bottas had no luck. He was plum last and looking at overtaking Logan Sargeant at the tight hairpin turn but was shunted off the track by the rookie driver due to a lockup. The American driver was handed a five-second penalty for the incident while Bottas had to retire from the race. By Lap 26, Sargeant, himself retired from the race as well.
Contrasting fortunes at Red Bull garage today. While Max won the race, Perez first got a five-second time penalty for gaining positions under Safety Car and then made an overly ambitious move on Kevin Magnussen resulting in huge contact. The scenario was similar to the one in Singapore when he had contact with Albon. The collision left Perez with a damaged front wing and Magnussen’s Haas was spun around with much more damage. Even before race control could impose a penalty, Perez was asked to retire the car.
Fernando Alonso was found complaining to his team that he was asked to pit too early. His Hard compound tyres not giving him much grip compared to the others. Both he and Estaban Ocon, who was running ahead, were overtaken by Leclerc, Sainz and then Hamilton rather quickly after the three had stopped for a fresh set of tyres themselves. Meanwhile, Lance Stroll, who was running outside the points, retired from the race. In a surprise move, Red Bull asked Perez to join the race again on Lap 29. Meanwhile, Albon was asked to retire the car. It would take another 11 laps before Red Bull actually released Perez onto the track. The Mexican driver was more than 20 laps behind the last car. He was released onto the track for one lap, called in the pits for the second five-second penalty and then asked to retire again. This was blatantly a move to take away any penalty from the next race.
McLaren had some trouble with making their two drivers work together towards the end. Lando, who was quicker by Lap 26, was quicker than Piastri but refused to let Norris go for a while. Eventually, the rookie had to listen to team orders and let the faster McLaren pass. On lap 49, Mercedes asked Russell to swap positions with Hamilton behind him. They had Sainz behind for company who managed to overtake Russell on the pit straight on Lap 50.
The race ended with Max Verstappen first across the line with a gap of 19 seconds over Norris. The final podium place was secured by Piastri. Verstappen now sits with 400 points under his belt in the Drivers’ Championship while Red Bull has laid claim to the Contrsuctors’ title at a track that is very close to the Honda factory.


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