Max Verstappen bounced back from his retirement in Australia with a commanding drive to victory during the 2024 Formula 1 Japanese Grand Prix, taking the chequered flag ahead of Red Bull teammate Sergio Perez and Ferrari’s Carlos Sainz.

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Verstappen led the way from start to finish, as the weather conditions were warmer than expected. A variety of tyre strategies and a first-lap accident involving RB’s Daniel Ricciardo and the Williams of Alex Albon all contributed to the proceedings.

It meant a third successive pole-to-victory conversion for the Dutchman at Suzuka while also marking a third win from four races in 2024, boosting his lead in the drivers’ championship after being dented by a brake-related retirement last time out at Albert Park.

Fresh from an improved qualifying display that saw him finish just over half a tenth away from pole, Perez backed up Verstappen to give Red Bull another one-two finish after their perfect results in Bahrain and Saudi Arabia to kick off the season.

Australian Grand Prix winner Sainz was the last of the front-runners to make their final pit stop. He benefitted from fresher rubber to clear McLaren’s Lando Norris and teammate Charles Leclerc in the closing laps, the latter having completed one stop fewer on an alternate strategy.

Leclerc kept Norris at bay in fourth and fifth places, respectively, while Fernando Alonso continued to lead Aston Martin’s charge en route to sixth, finishing just in front of the squabbling Mercedes and McLaren machines of George Russell and Oscar Piastri.

Piastri, on ageing hard tyres, and Russell, on newer medium tyres, had come close to colliding towards the end of the race when they went wheel-to-wheel at the final chicane, with the stewards looking into the incident after the Australian argued he was forced off the track.

Lewis Hamilton mirrored Russell’s strategy en route to ninth, having questioned Mercedes’ approach earlier in the race, with home hero Yuki Tsunoda taking the final point on offer for himself and RB as he battled his way to 10th via a series of fine overtakes.

Haas’s Nico Hulkenberg was one of Tsunoda’s victims in 11th, while Lance Stroll was another to make some eye-catching passes – mainly through the Esses – but ultimately went without reward in P12, commenting over the radio that Aston Martin’s lack of straight-line speed made it feel like they were in a “different category”.

Kevin Magnussen took 13th in the other Haas in front of Kick Sauber’s Valtteri Bottas and the Alpines of Esteban Ocon and Pierre Gasly, who survived contact when the action resumed following Ricciardo and Albon’s coming together at the original race start.

Logan Sargeant tripped through the gravel in the closing moments of the race, but the Williams man reversed out and continued on his way to P17 and last, avoiding the same fate as the aforementioned Ricciardo and Albon and the other Kick Sauber of Zhou Guanyu, who retired early on amid apparent technical trouble.

After four drama-filled rounds, the F1 paddock will head to China with Verstappen leading the drivers’ standings on 77 points, followed by teammate Perez on 64 and Leclerc on 59. In the constructors’ battle, Red Bull (141 points) holds the advantage over Ferrari (120).

Mario Isola, Motorsport Director, Pirelli:

I think once again today Formula 1 proved to be a very spectacular form of racing. On one of the most demanding tracks for drivers and cars, we witnessed a race with plenty of overtaking, where various strategies were brought into play, thanks in part to all three of the compounds we chose for this round being up to the job in hand. This allowed drivers to choose from different options, both in terms of switching compounds and in when to make the pit stops.

While it’s true that, once again, Red Bull and Max Verstappen had the edge, which allowed them to secure the win with relative ease, behind them, there were some great battles, not just on the track but also between the teams on the pit wall.

2024 Formula 1 Japanese GP

Today was the hottest day of the weekend, with a track temperature at the start of 40 °C which then dropped to 32 °C so thermal degradation was significant, and those who did the best job of managing it were able to make up various places from where they started: here I’m thinking chiefly of Leclerc who drove an exceptional race in this respect because his one and only stop saw him go from eighth to fourth. The undercut proved to be very effective, but it’s a fact that those who stopped too early were then at a disadvantage in the closing stages of each stint. All these variables created performance differences that facilitated overtaking, which was great for the spectators. Indeed, the fans that packed out Suzuka all weekend long really added to the show, and it was great to see them able to celebrate a tenth-place finish for local hero Yuki Tsunoda.

The day on the track:

For a start, there was a pretty even split between the 20 drivers in terms of those who opted for the Medium (all in the top ten except Alonso, plus Ricciardo, Tsunoda and Zhou) and those who went with the Soft. However, the red flag on the opening lap meant that seven drivers – the Mercedes and Alpine pairs, Sargeant, Tsunoda and Zhou – all took the opportunity to switch compounds. The Mercedes duo went from Medium to Hard, both Alpines and Sargeant in the Williams went from Soft to Medium, and Tsunoda (Racing Bulls) and Zhou (Sauber) went from Medium to Soft.

2024 Formula 1 Japanese GP

The restart meant the race was effectively shortened by two laps, with the original opening lap and the one to the grid for the second start still valid. Teams thus went for various strategic options both in terms of the number of pit stops and in their use of the available compounds. The most used was the C1 (545 laps, 60%), with the C2 next (281 laps, 31%) with little difference in terms of degradation. While the Hard and Medium were the most popular, the Soft (81 laps completed, 9% of the total) also had a role to play, either at the start or in the closing stages, despite demonstrating significant degradation.

What’s next?

The fifth round of the World Championship takes place in Shanghai from 19 to 21 April, with Formula 1 returning after a five-year break, 20 years after it first appeared on the calendar back in 2004. Shanghai hosts the first Grand Prix of the year to run in the new Sprint format (free practice and Sprint qualifying on Friday, Sprint Race and qualifying on Saturday, and the actual Grand Prix on Sunday). Pirelli has chosen three compounds from the middle of the range: C2 as Hard, C3 as Medium and C4 as Soft.

There is one more task before Shanghai. This coming Tuesday and Wednesday, Suzuka hosts the third Pirelli test session of the season, aimed at developing compounds and constructions for 2025. Sauber, running Valtteri Bottas on both days and Racing Bulls, running Daniel Ricciardo on the first day and Yuki Tsunoda on the second, will support the sport’s sole tyre supplier in this delicate and important task.

2024 Formula 1 Japanese Grand Prix Race Results

Pos No Driver Country Team Time Points Overall
1. 1 Max Verstappen Netherlands Red Bull Racing 1:54:23.566 26 77
2. 11 Sergio Perez Mexico Red Bull Racing +12.535s 18 64
3. 55 Carlos Sainz Spain Scuderia Ferrari +20.866s 15 55
4. 16 Charles Leclerc Monaco Scuderia Ferrari +26.522s 12 59
5. 4 Lando Norris Great Britain Mclaren Racing +29.700s 10 37
6. 14 Fernando Alonso Spain Aston Martin F1 Team +44.272s 8 24
7. 63 George Russell Great Britain Mercedes-AMG Petronas +45.951s 6 24
8. 81 Oscar Piastri Australia McLaren Racing +47.525s 4 32
9. 44 Lewis Hamilton Great Britain Mercedes-AMG Petronas +48.626s 2 10
10. 22 Yuki Tsunoda Japan Visa Cash App F1 Team +1 lap 1 7
11. 27 Nico Hulkenberg Germany Haas F1 Team +1 lap 0 3
12. 18 Lance Stroll Canada Aston Martin F1 Team +1 lap 0 9
13. 20 Kevin Magnussen Denmark Haas F1 Team +1 lap 0 1
14. 77 Valtteri Bottas Finland Kick Sauber F1 Team +1 lap 0 0
15. 31 Esteban Ocon France Alpine F1 Team +1 lap 0 0
16. 10 Pierre Gasly France Alpine F1 Team +1 lap 0 0
17. 2 Logan Sargeant USA Williams Racing +1 lap 0 0
18. 24 Zhou Guanyu China Kick Sauber F1 Team DNF 0 0
11. 45 Alexander Albon Thailand Williams Racing DNF 0 0
12. 3 Daniel Ricciardo Australia Visa Cash App F1 Team DNF 0 0

2024 Constructor Standings

Pos Team Points
1. Red Bull Racing 141
2. Scuderia Ferrari 120
3. McLaren Racing 69
4. Mercedes-AMG Petronas 34
5. Aston Martin F1 Team 33
6. Visa Cash App F1 Team 7
7. Haas F1 Team 4
8. Kick Sauber F1 Team 0
9. Williams Racing 0
10. Alpine F1 Team 0

Here are the team-by-team highlights:


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