SUZUKA: Formula One leader Max Verstappen ran away with the Japanese Grand Prix from pole position on Sunday as his dominant Red Bull team secured the constructors’ title for the second year in a row.
The victory at Suzuka was the Dutch driver’s 13th in 16 races this season and left him on the brink of a third world championship after team-mate Sergio Perez, his closest rival, failed to finish.
McLaren’s Lando Norris and Australian rookie Oscar Piastri, on a grand prix podium for the first time, finished second and third, respectively.
Verstappen, who also took the fastest lap bonus and now leads Perez by a massive 177 points, can seal his third drivers’ title in a row with five rounds to spare at next month’s Qatar Grand Prix.
Verstappen now has 400 points to the Mexican’s 223 while Red Bull have an unassailable lead of 318 points over Mercedes.
Constructors’ title was Red Bull’s sixth since they entered the sport in 2005.
Verstappen took the chequered flag 19.387 seconds ahead of Norris, whose second place was the Briton’s fourth in seven races.
McLaren’s first double podium of the season, with team orders ultimately deciding the positions on strategy, cemented their growing status as Red Bull’s closest challengers on track.
Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc finished fourth with Lewis Hamilton fifth in a bouncing, sliding Mercedes that he said left him exhausted.
Carlos Sainz finished sixth in his Ferrari.
George Russell took seventh for Mercedes after letting Hamilton through, reluctantly, on team orders and then being passed by Sainz.
Aston Martin’s Fernando Alonso was eighth, ahead of Alpines Esteban Ocon and Pierre Gasly.
Published in Dawn, September 25th, 2023