Max scored a third consecutive Japanese Grand Prix podium finish as he powered to third place and Daniel delivered a superb, strong drive at Suzuka to rise to fourth place after starting from 15th on the grid.
Pole position man Lewis Hamilton held his advantage at the start, moving across the track to cover team-mate Valtteri Bottas and the hard charging Max. Behind them Sebastian Vettel was on the move. The German started from eighth place after a troubled qualifying session yesterday but was soon past Toro Rosso’s Brendon Hartley and Pierre Gasly and then began to close in on fourth-placed team-mate Kimi Räikkönen.
That task was made easier when Max went wide at the chicane, and in rejoining tangled with Räikkönen. Both cars went wide on the outside of the track and while Max rejoined in third, Räikkönen was slow in returning to the action and that allowed Vettel to sweep past into fourth place. The incident was put under investigation and Max was later handed a five-second time penalty for “leaving the track and not returning safely”, a verdict he disputed.
Further back, Daniel was on the move too, and when Kevin Magnussen went off track with a puncture caused in a first-lap collision with Sauber’s Charles Leclerc, the Australian moved up to 10th place.
The Magnussen incident brought out the Safety Car and when it left the track Max was again battling it out with a Ferrari – this time Vettel. The German attempted an overtaking move on Max in Turn 13 but the Red Bull driver was already turning in. Vettel lost bodywork in the collision and spun, while Max’s car was launched to the right, sending up a shower of sparks. Max was again able to continue, however, Vettel dropped to P19.
After the Safety Car, Daniel’s progress continued. After quickly dismissing Racing Point Force India’s Sergio Perez, Toro Rosso’s Pierre Gasly and Haas’ Romain Grosjean in short order, by lap 14 Daniel was up to P5. Then, when Räikkönen pitted on lap 17 for medium tyres, the Australian moved to fourth place, 9.5s behind Max.
Max then dived into the pit lane and after taking on a set of soft tyres he rejoined just ahead of Räikkönen who was busy passing Gasly. Max quickly overtook Grosjean and then began to close the gap to the Finn, who was struggling to get past the Frenchman.
With Räikkönen not getting the best out of his new medium tyres, Daniel pitted for his own set of the white-banded tyres and jumped the Finn, rejoining in fourth place. Further back, Vettel was see-sawing up and down the order. After pitting from P10 for soft tyres, the Ferrari driver emerged in P16, but with greater grip and power than the rivals around him, he was soon back into the point positions and on lap 33 lay in eighth place, 2.7s behind Grosjean.
He was soon past the Frenchman but after claiming sixth place, and with 40 seconds to make up to fifth-placed Räikkönen, the German’s rise halted.
Max, meanwhile was pushing hard to reel in Bottas and with the Finn appearing to struggle for pace, the gap steadily disintegrated and with five laps to go the gap was under one second.
Daniel, meanwhile, was beginning to struggle with his medium tyres but with 17s in hand over Räikkönen in the final five laps there was no fear that the Australian would lose his grip on fourth place.
At the front, Hamilton was similarly in command and after 53 laps, the Briton powered over the line to claim his ninth win of the season and as 67-point championship lead over Vettel, with four rounds remaining.
Despite a final lap charge by Max, Bottas was able to hold on to second place and so Max took his seventh podium finish of the campaign with third place. Daniel took a brilliant fourth place after starting 15th, while the Ferraris of Räikkönen and Vettel were fifth and sixth respectively.
Sergio Perez was seventh for Racing Point Force India ahead of Haas’ Romain Grosjean and the second Force India of Esteban Ocon. The final point on offer was taken by Renault’s Carlos Sainz.
OUR RACE IN NUMBERS:
3 – Consecutive podium finishes for Max at the Japanese Grand Prix. He finished second in 2016 and 2017.
5 – Career points finishes in Japan for Daniel, including one podium. The Honey Badger was 10th in 2012 with Toro Rosso and then with us he was fourth in 2014, sixth in 2016 and third last year.
9 – Podium finishes in 2018 for the team – Max has seven and Daniel two. Both of Daniels have been wins (in China and Monaco). Max has won once, in Austria.
Japanese Grand Prix - Race Result
- Lewis Hamilton
- Valtteri Bottas
- MAX VERSTAPPEN
- DANIEL RICCIARDO
- Kimi Räikkönen
- Sebastian Vettel
- Sergio Perez
- Romain Grosjean
- Esteban Ocon
- Carlos Sainz