Read the full story on SportsLook - Max Verstappen Cruises to Victory in the Japanese Grand Prix
Red Bull driver Max Verstappen came out ahead on a nail-biting first lap and then coasted to victory to win the Japanese Grand Prix on Sunday, September 24. With the victory, Verstappen moved a step closer to clinching his third straight Formula One drivers' championship.
Verstappen, who missed out on the podium a week ago in Singapore, was simply dominant in Suzuka, Mie Prefecture, leading every practice session and qualifying for Sunday's race, where he started from pole and held on for his 13th win of the season.
With Verstappen's win, Red Bull secured this year's constructors' title, its sixth overall and second in a row. Red Bull did it with six races remaining.
"What an unbelievable season we are having," Verstappen said. "You can all be very proud here at the track and back at the factory."
Verstappen added, "You guys built a rocket ship of a car, well done."
McLaren driver Lando Norris was second, a full 19.4 seconds back of Verstappen, while his teammate Oscar Piastri, an Australian rookie, was third for his first F1 podium.
Verstappen Extends Points Lead at Japanese Grand Prix
With the dominating win, Verstappen increased his lead over Red Bull teammate Sergio Perez to 177 points. He could wrap up his third consecutive title at the Qatar Grand Prix (October 6-8).
The race got off to an exciting start with Verstappen, Piastri and Norris going wheel-to-wheel. But the Red Bull driver held his nerve through the first two turns.
"Luckily nothing happened," Verstappen said. "It all got quite close but that's racing, that's how it goes at the start. And then of course you had a good battle into Turn 1 and Turn 2, I was lucky there was a bit more grip in Turn 2."
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Author: Jim Armstrong
The author is a longtime journalist who has covered sports in Japan for over 25 years. You can find his articles on SportsLook.