Verstappen’s qualifying display at the Japanese Grand Prix was arguably the best of his F1 career so far, taking pole by nearly 0.6s with an inch-perfect lap. The Dutchman converted it into his 13th win of the season, 19s clear of second-place.
Norris was narrowly beaten to a front-row start by teammate Piastri. However, the British driver made a blistering start and even challenged Verstappen for the race lead. He was comfortably quicker than Piastri in the race, finishing second for the fourth time in F1 2023.
Piastri’s strong qualifying form didn’t maintain itself in the race as he struggled with tyre degradation. Given his inexperience, it’s no surprise Norris still holds a clear advantage in the race.
After three disappointing races relative to Sainz, Leclerc was the quicker of the two Ferrari drivers at Suzuka. He qualified and raced well – P4 was the maximum given their deficit to Red Bull and McLaren.
Hamilton continues to get the most out of the Mercedes. On balance, it was the fourth-fastest car at Suzuka. Despite picking up some damage, his race pace seemed to be unaffected.
A step behind his teammate all weekend, Ferrari’s failure to respond to Hamilton’s undercut cost him one position.
Not quite at Hamilton’s level at Suzuka, his one-stop strategy didn’t quite work out.
Aston Martin’s form continues to decline as they slip closer to McLaren in the constructors’ championship. Alonso progressed into Q3 and finished in the top eight – you can’t ask for much more than that.
A long first stint on the hard tyre allowed Ocon to propel himself into the top 10. He got ahead of teammate Gasly on the last lap after Alpine deployed team orders.
Gasly continues to impress at Alpine. He out-qualified Ocon, and would have finished ahead without team orders. Granted, team orders allowed him to get past in the final stint in the first place.
Liam Lawson – 7.5
Yet another impressive weekend from Lawson. His move on Tsunoda on Lap 1 was brilliant. He ultimately beat his more experienced teammate in a straight fight.
Yuki Tsunoda – 6.5
While Tsunoda starred in qualifying, the race once again didn’t go to plan, finishing behind Lawson.
Zhou Guanyu – 6
Zhou was over 0.3s off Bottas in qualifying as both Alfa Romeos were knocked out in Q1. Zhou survived the opening lap carnage to finish a respectable 13th.
Nico Hulkenberg – 6
A tough race for Haas unsurprisingly given that tyre degradation was so high. Hulkenberg finished just ahead of teammate Magnussen.
Kevin Magnussen – 6
Magnussen seems to have taken a step forward as he out-qualified Hulkenberg for the second race running. He was last of the classified runners in the race.
Alex Albon – 6.5
Albon’s race was ruined on the opening lap after unfortunate contact with Bottas.
Logan Sargeant – 1
A shocking weekend on the whole for Sargeant. He crashed in qualifying before punting Bottas into the gravel. His F1 future is in serious doubt.
Lance Stroll – 3
Another driver who continues to underperform is Stroll. He was knocked out in Q1 again before retiring due to a technical issue.
Sergio Perez – 2
A weekend to forget for Perez. He was nowhere in qualifying, around 0.7s behind his teammate. While the damage on Lap 1 was unfortunate, points were still possible. However, a penalty for overtaking another driver under the Safety Car, and a clumsy collision with Magnussen, capped off an abysmal weekend.
Valtteri Bottas – 6.5
Bottas’ race ended prematurely after he was punted off by Sargeant into the hairpin.