2023 Japanese Grand Prix Takeaways
This season’s Japanese Grand Prix featured two significant storylines: Max Verstappen helping Red Bull clinch its second consecutive Constructors Championship after an underwhelming weekend, and a first GP victory for 2023’s most notable rookie. Check out the top 2023 Japanese Grand Prix storylines care of Nitrobetting below.
Key Takeaways from the 2023 Japanese Grand Prix
Red Bull Clinches 2023 Constructors’ Championship Title
Last week’s race in Singapore witnessed a rare case of Verstappen failing to reach Q3 and score a podium finish at the very least. The Belgian-Dutch driver hoped for better results over the weekend, which he did. The defending champion bounced back with a masterclass. He dominated the weekend and led FP1, FP2, FP3, Q1, and Q3, and scored a hat-trick by winning from pole with the race’s fastest lap.
Other than Norris’s challenge at Turn 1, when the McLaren was a hair ahead of the RB19, the result never looked in question at any point during the Japanese GP weekend. Verstappen was the fastest man out of the blocks and his advantage was disheartening to the drivers behind him over three days.
It was an emphatic performance and a great way to win Red Bull’s sixth Formula 1 constructor’ title. Verstappen is also a few weekends away from scoring his third Drivers’ Championship.
Meanwhile, teammate Sergio Perez underperformed in Japan. He played a part in Red Bull’s commanding Constructors’ championship victory but suffered discouraging moments around Suzuka. His qualifying day was only good enough for a fifth-place start and was quickly followed by a startline clash, then a pit entry penalty. His move on Kevin Magnussen, which forced the Haas driver off the road, added to the penalty loophole he endured.
Perez is a much better driver than what we saw last Sunday. There’s no shame in racing behind Formula 1 wonder Max Verstappen, but his recent drive is too messy. Checo needs to recover from this slump as drivers head to the Middle East soon.
McLaren Double Podium
Huge moments were expected at Suzuka since Lando Norris finished second to Singapore GP winner Carlos Sainz. The team continued its positive trend over the course of 2023, and the pair did not disappoint last weekend.
While Verstappen maintained a sizable gap the rest of the field couldn’t close, the McLarens pulled off an incredible turnaround performance in-season. This is not the first time we’ve seen the orange cars hold enough pace to bag podium finishes. From a poor start this season to an impressive all-out attack for fourth in the constructor standings, the MCL60 slowly became a viable track weapon. We’ve seen both Ferraris and Mercedes have a tough time keeping up with the duo of Lando Norris and Oscar Piastri.
Zak Brown is proud to say that his team currently has the second-fastest car on the grid. Although Mercedes and Ferrari are too far ahead at this stage to be under pressure, McLaren is likely to take huge chunks out of the difference before the final race.
Norris had the upper hand on Sunday. Despite Piastri grabbing P2 on qualifying day, the Englishman’s experience provided why he is the man for the job. The 23-year-old recorded his tenth podium finish of his career and ended the day with a second-place finish. This is also his fourth P2 finish of the season thanks to an improving MCL60. Norris now holds back-to-back podium finishes and hopes to keep the momentum going in Qatar a few weeks from now.
Meanwhile, rookie driver Oscar Piastri will forever remember this race. The Australian driver had an amazing qualifying Saturday and logged lap times good enough to start with Max Verstappen in the front row. However, his position eventually shifted as Lando had more pace. Piastri dropped to third place at the end of the race, but his weekend was a good enough indicator of the team’s upward direction.
A Tame Weekend for Mercedes
The Mercedes pair managed fifth and seventh place. Their results were enough to limit the constructors’ damage to four points to main rivals Ferrari. It’s not a disaster for the team by any means, but we would’ve wanted to see Lewis Hamilton and George Russell put pressure on the McLarens like last time.
What concerned many during the race were several wheel-to-wheel moments between the teammates. If one of the two handled the tension differently, or they’d been less professional about the situation, things could have ended sideways. Thankfully, none of that was a problem at Suzuka.
The F1 W14 E needs more hardware upgrades to get close to the front. The car wasn’t very quick like what we witnessed around Marina Bay, and they needed to work fast as both McLaren and Ferrari started to catch up to the frontrunners.
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