Red Bull Return to the Top with Win in Japan

April 7, 2024Ramon Jones
Formula 1

Max Verstappen bounced back from his DNF in Australia to secure the win in the Japanese Grand Prix. Verstappen lead another Red Bull 1-2 with Sergio Perez securing P2 and Australia’s winner Carlos Sainz finished third. The Red Bulls still appear to have an advantage having won 3 of the 4 races this year with 1-2 finishes. However the story here is based on Sainz and his second podium in a row after it was announced he would be replaced by Lewis Hamilton at Ferrari next year. In the short term it seems as though the decision to axe Sainz has proven to be a mistake. To add insult to injury, Sainz secured third after passing his teammate Charles Leclerc which will leave Ferrari questioning their decision.

Sainz commented, as quoted by Sky Sports F1, “I had a good race. I’m very happy because it was quite tough out there with the degradation but then the clouds came and the degradation went a lot lower and I thought one-stop was quicker and we were on the two.

I had to overtake a lot of cars out there. Overtaking was tricky, like always at Suzuka, you need to nail the last chicane to get a good run into Turn One. I could finish my moves but it was tough out there.”

Red Bull Racing Has Avoided Destabilization

Despite the off track distractions faced at Red Bull Racing; the team has maintained their level of success from the conclusion of the 2023 Formula One season. Having won 3 of 4 races this far while facing the adversity the team has faced in the media is feat in itself. Red Bull has been the center of an ongoing investigation regarding team principal Christian Horner and another employee. Horner was cleared of any wrong doing. However, the rumor mill has been flying with reports of key personnel leaving the team and a potential move for Verstappen. Verstappen is rumored to have been offered a contract with Mercedes.

Given the current performance of the Red Bull, it is a tough sell for the defending world champion to leave the winning side for a lower performing competitor. Thus far Verstappen has made no indication that he will be leaving Red Bull. The team appears to be working as normal as they maintain their dominance with a 21 point lead over Ferrari in the constructor’s championship.

Ferrari Settle for 3rd and 4th

Carlos Sainz showed he had the lead team pace today in Japan after passing Ferrari teammate Leclerc on lap 46 of the 53 lap race and wouldn’t look back finishing almost 6 seconds behind. Ferrari did what it needed to today and that was defend against the McLarens and Aston Martins which showed early season success. With back to back double point finishes for Ferrari and 3 podiums in the lap 2 races it seems that Ferrari may have turned things around.

SUZUKA, JAPAN – APRIL 07: Carlos Sainz, Scuderia Ferrari, 3rd position, with his trophy and Champagne during the Japanese GP at Suzuka on Sunday April 07, 2024 in Suzuka, Japan. (Photo by Andy Hone / Motorsport Images)

Tsunoda Scores Points, Ricciardo Crashes Out

Yuki Tsunoda had a brilliant performance in front of his home crowd. Tsunoda scored 1 point for RB after finishing P10 in the race. His teammate Daniel Ricciardo crashed out of the race on lap 1 of the race after an incident with the Williams car of Alex Albon. Both drivers retired from the race due tot the incident. Unfortunately for Ricciardo he was out of the race before it started.

It was rumored that Ricciardo needs to improve his performance starting in Australia and then Japan if he wants to retain his seat at RB. On both occasions Ricciardo was out qualified and out finished which raises questions as to whether his future at RB is disappearing. Liam Lawson stays poised for an opportunity to get back on the Formula one grid. With Ricciardo’s shortcomings continuing it will be a difficult but necessary decision to remove him if things don’t turn around soon.

Full Formula One Japanese Grand Prix Results

11Max VerstappenRED BULL RACING HONDA RBPT531:54:23.56626
211Sergio PerezRED BULL RACING HONDA RBPT53+12.535s18
355Carlos SainzFERRARI53+20.866s15
416Charles LeclercFERRARI53+26.522s12
54Lando NorrisMCLAREN MERCEDES53+29.700s10
614Fernando AlonsoASTON MARTIN ARAMCO MERCEDES53+44.272s8
763George RussellMERCEDES53+45.951s6
881Oscar PiastriMCLAREN MERCEDES53+47.525s4
944Lewis HamiltonMERCEDES53+48.626s2
1022Yuki TsunodaRB HONDA RBPT52+1 lap1
1127Nico HulkenbergHAAS FERRARI52+1 lap0
1320Kevin MagnussenHAAS FERRARI52+1 lap0
1477Valtteri BottasKICK SAUBER FERRARI52+1 lap0
1531Esteban OconALPINE RENAULT52+1 lap0
1610Pierre GaslyALPINE RENAULT52+1 lap0
172Logan SargeantWILLIAMS MERCEDES52+1 lap0
NC3Daniel RicciardoRB HONDA RBPT0DNF0
Max Verstappen received 1 additional point for securing the fastest lap of the race.