Max: Two weeks, two podiums

Courtesy of Red Bull Media Service

SUZUKA, JAPAN – OCTOBER 08: Second place finisher Max Verstappen of Netherlands and Red Bull Racing in the post race press conference during the Formula One Grand Prix of Japan at Suzuka Circuit on October 8, 2017 in Suzuka. (Photo by Mark Thompson/Getty Images)

Close second for Verstappen in Japan with Ricciardo in third.

Max Verstappen finished 1.2s behind Lewis Hamilton at the Japanese GP, coming close from taking another victory following his Malaysian success last week. At one stage the gap had even been under a second.

Meanwhile his teammate Ricciardo hung on to get the Suzuka podium he’s always wanted – that’s his ninth podium of the season.

SUZUKA, JAPAN – OCTOBER 08: Top three finisher Lewis Hamilton of Great Britain and Mercedes GP, Max Verstappen of Netherlands and Red Bull Racing and Daniel Ricciardo of Australia and Red Bull Racing celebrate on the podium during the Formula One Grand Prix of Japan at Suzuka Circuit on October 8, 2017 in Suzuka. (Photo by Mark Thompson/Getty Images)

The Spaniard Carlos Sainz lost control of his Scuderia Toro Rosso in Turn 7 on the opening lap – an unhappy ending to Sainz’s last race with the Italian team before switching to Renault. Their new pilot Pierre Gasly brought his car home 13th.

Red Bull Racing

Max Verstappen, Finish Position: 2nd, Start Position: 4th  

SUZUKA, JAPAN – OCTOBER 08: Race winner Lewis Hamilton of Great Britain and Mercedes GP and second place finisher Max Verstappen of Netherlands and Red Bull Racing shake hands in parc ferme during the Formula One Grand Prix of Japan at Suzuka Circuit on October 8, 2017 in Suzuka. (Photo by Will Taylor-Medhurst/Getty Images)


“This is my second year in a row on the podium here at Suzuka; it seems like Japan is a good place for me! Our car was very competitive in the corners but it meant we lost a bit on the straights and weren’t ever really able to have a proper go at it. The degradation on the soft was really good and the balance felt good throughout the race, which is really positive in terms of finishing the season strongly. Lewis had some difficulties when he had traffic in front but at the end of the day he was controlling it. The traffic gave me a bit of a chance to close up and potentially have a chance to take him. It was a bit of a shame the back-markers came into play but I don’t think it made a big difference, once Lewis had clean air I would have struggled to pass him. It just seems that the Mercedes struggle when following other cars closely. In the race it seems we are always more competitive than Qualifying, so I’m looking ahead to Austin and hoping we can carry this form on and get another podium. Two podiums in two weeks means I leave Asia extremely satisfied and excited to get back in the car in the US and try and extend this streak.”

Daniel Ricciardo, Finish Position: 3rd, Start Position: 3rd

SUZUKA, JAPAN – OCTOBER 08: Second place finisher Max Verstappen of Netherlands and Red Bull Racing and third place finisher Daniel Ricciardo of Australia and Red Bull Racing celebrate on the podium during the Formula One Grand Prix of Japan at Suzuka Circuit on October 8, 2017 in Suzuka. (Photo by Will Taylor-Medhurst/Getty Images)


“Overall the race today was a thumbs up for me. At the start of the weekend I said I wanted to get a podium in Suzuka and I got it. I can’t go back on what I said and wish for more, but I need to look back at the start and the actual getaway as that was what cost me the place to Max and Ocon. The first 100 metres could have been better but otherwise the race was pretty lonely in third place. As fun as this track is on one lap it’s tricky to do much in the race and very hard to follow another car. In the end it was actually nice to have some pressure from Valtteri to keep me pushing all the way to the finish. I felt confident I could keep third place in the closing laps if I drove cleanly and hit all the apexes, which is what I did. I’m happy to spray some more champagne, it’s my ninth podium of the season which is a new record for me and to be in the position that we are now makes me pretty happy. It’s really encouraging for the team to have another double podium, both cars are getting to the finish reliably now and we are also quick. We should be able to put up a good fight in Austin and Mexico and if we can keep this rolling into 2018 then absolutely we should be looking pretty good. All I have to say now is arigatooooooooo Japan.”

Christian Horner, Team Principal:
“Great drives by both Max and Daniel today. After a good start Daniel unfortunately lost out to Esteban Ocon on the first lap but made a fantastic pass around the outside of Turn 1after the safety car restart and from there onwards we looked as if we had very good pace this afternoon and Max was able to stick with Lewis pretty comfortably in what turned out to be a one-stop grand prix. Towards the end of the race we saw a blister begin to appear on the inside of Max’s front left tyre; despite having to manage that he was still able to catch Lewis and put pressure on him. It was unfortunate that there was a back-marker on the last lap that allowed Lewis off the hook or else it might have been a very interesting finish. Nonetheless a fantastic performance by both Max and Daniel to finish second and third here in Suzuka and achieve our first back to back double podium in the hybrid era.”

Scuderia Toro Rosso

Pierre Gasly (STR12-04, Car 10)
Race: 13th

SUZUKA, JAPAN – OCTOBER 08: Pierre Gasly of Scuderia Toro Rosso and France during the Formula One Grand Prix of Japan at Suzuka Circuit on October 8, 2017 in Suzuka. (Photo by Peter Fox/Getty Images)


“It was quite a difficult race, I’m a bit disappointed. The overall pace was not great today, and I was struggling quite a bit with the car. I still tried to do my best and, at one point, I was doing well to keep behind a Haas, but as soon as I started to close the gap it became too difficult to stay behind or try to overtake. Then, after a massive lock-up, we had to pit earlier than expected… so definitely not an easy one, that’s for sure, but we’ll keep pushing! We now have to analyse today’s race and try to improve the overall performance.”

Carlos Sainz (STR12-01, Car 55)
Race: DNF

SUZUKA, JAPAN – OCTOBER 08: Carlos Sainz of Scuderia Toro Rosso and Spain with his team during the Formula One Grand Prix of Japan at Suzuka Circuit on October 8, 2017 in Suzuka. (Photo by Peter Fox/Getty Images)


“How disappointing, this wasn’t the way I wanted to end my time with Toro Rosso, that’s for sure! I’d like to say sorry to the whole team for retiring on the first lap… I was trying to risk everything at the start to try and gain some positions, so I went around the outside at Turn 6 and I found a lot more dust on the track than I was expecting, and lost it; as simple as that. It’s a shame, because I was really looking forward to finishing on a high here in Suzuka with the team but I’m going to remain positive: these three years here have been absolutely amazing – it’s been an ideal preparation for me; the driver I am today, compared to the driver I was in 2015, is a more complete and better one, and this is thanks to Toro Rosso, who are a great group of professionals who have helped me a lot to become the driver I am today. It’s going to be quite emotional leaving the track tonight…”

Franz Tost (Team Principal)
“A very frustrating and difficult weekend for us. Carlos had to start today’s race from the back of the grid because we had to change the complete Power Unit. He then went off half-way through the first lap and this meant that his race was over, unfortunately. Pierre started from P14 and was close to scoring a point, but we had to end up doing an extra pit-stop, which meant that, in the end, he finished in P13. The positive is that he finished the race and continued to gain experience at the wheel of the car. Generally, our pace over the weekend was not at the level we expected but, hopefully, we can improve in the next couple of back-to-back races in two weeks’ time.”

Japanese GP race results
1          LEWIS HAMILTON – MERCEDES
2          MAX VERSTAPPEN – RED BULL RACING
3          DANIEL RICCIARDO – RED BULL RACING
4          VALTTERI BOTTAS – MERCEDES
5          KIMI RÄIKKÖNEN – FERRARI
6          ESTEBAN OCON – FORCE INDIA
7          SERGIO PEREZ – FORCE INDIA
8          KEVIN MAGNUSSEN – HAAS
9          ROMAIN GROSJEAN – HAAS
10       FELIPE MASSA – WILLIAMS

Driver standings
1          Lewis Hamilton – MERCEDES 306
2          Sebastian Vettel – FERRARI 247
3          Valtteri Bottas – MERCEDES 234
4          Daniel Ricciardo – RED BULL RACING 192
5          Kimi Räikkönen – FERRARI 148
6          Max Verstappen – RED BULL RACING 111
7          Sergio Perez – FORCE INDIA MERCEDES 82
8          Esteban Ocon – FORCE INDIA MERCEDES 65
9          Carlos Sainz – TORO ROSSO 48
10       Nico Hulkenberg – RENAULT 34

 

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