Red Bull are the 2023 Constructors’ Champions after Max Verstappen took victory in the Japanese Grand Prix. He would be joined on the podium by the McLaren duo of Lando Norris and Oscar Piastri.
Max Verstappen started on Pole Position after topping Saturday’s Qualifying session. He would be joined on the front row by McLaren rookie Oscar Piastri, who recently extended his contract with the team until 2026.
Logan Sargeant, who had a big crash in qualifying would have to start in the pit lane and was also handed a ten-second time penalty which he would serve during his first pit stop. Williams effectively built a third car according to the stewards.
Verstappen kept his lead going into the turn one, but Lando Norris was able to get past his teammate Piastri. There was an incident further back in the pack which would bring out an early safety car. Valtteri Bottas was one of the drivers involved, along with his Alfa Romeo’s team-mate Zhou Guanyu, Esteban Ocon (Alpine) and Alexander Albon (Williams). All drivers were able to continue but had varying degrees of damage.
Sergio Perez (Red Bull) and Lewis Hamilton (Mercedes) made contact at the start, with Perez appearing to be worse off and having to change his front wing, dropping to 18th place during the safety car period.
Bottas’ nightmare start to the race got even worse as he spun down at the chicane after being tagged by Sargeant. At the same time, there was a battle between the Mercedes pair who were swapping positions for seventh and eighth.
On lap nine, Bottas pulled into the pitlane to become the first driver to retire from the race, not long after being sent back out for what was more like a test session after being held in his pit box for more than half a minute. Sargeant was handed a five-second time penalty for the incident with the Finnish driver.
Sergio Perez was given a five-second time penalty for a safety car infringement after he came out of the pitlane ahead of some of the drivers that he should have been in front. However, the penalty was actually because he overtook cars on the entry to the pitlane, rather than the exit.
The Mexican driver was then struggling to get past the Haas of Kevin Magnussen in front and locked up and hit the rear of the Danish driver’s car sending him into a spin. Perez had to change his front wing once again, putting a set of soft tyres on at the same time. A virtual safety car was then brought out, with Perez coming onto the team radio to say that the car didn’t feel right. Perez then was told to retire the car.
Lance Stroll was the next driver to retire from the race with rear wing issues on lap 22, with Verstappen leading from George Russell (Mercedes) who was yet to pit.
It would be a day to forget for Williams because both Sargeat and Albon were forced to retire and out of the race on what was a difficult weekend for the team.
Perez had retired from the race but failed to serve the five-second time penalty he was handed due to the incident with Hamilton. Red Bull decided to send him back out into the race to serve the penalty before retiring from the race for the second time.
With the Mercedes duo of Russell and Hamilton racing each other for fifth place, Russell was ordered to let Hamilton pass due to the challenge from Carlis Sainz (Ferrari) behind. It appeared to be the wrong decision for the team if it was about protecting their positions as Sainz breezed past Russell with only a few laps to go.
It was a dominant victory for Verstappen, with an impressive result for McLaren and a first podium for Piastri. Leclerc and Sainz were split by Hamilton, with Russell in seventh. Fernando Alonso (Aston Martin) and the Alpine duo of Pierre Gasly and Esteban Ocon completed the points-paying positions.