F1 2024 Japanese GP – Fastest lap

Max Verstappen was back on form in Suzuka to secure the hat-trick of pole, win and fastest lap

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Max Verstappen completed the hat-trick of clinching pole position, winning the race and setting the fastest lap of the Formula 1 2024 Japanese Grand Prix after Red Bull enjoyed a return to dominance.

The Dutchman was head and shoulders above the rest of the grid for most of the weekend, and pipped his team-mate to pole in qualifying by a tiny margin – 0.065 seconds to be precise.

But he was the quickest in the race without much argument, finishing 12 seconds clear of Perez, to establish his superiority over his Red Bull colleague and the rest of the grid. That was despite Verstappen airing his concerns over Ferrari and McLaren’s pace in the race simulations during practice.

It was no surprise to see him clinch the fastest lap towards the end of the race on lower fuel, however, with Verstappen posting a 1:33.706 on Lap 51 – some five seconds slower than his fastest lap in qualifying. On a fresh set of soft tyres, he would have surely gone faster.

Verstappen back on top

It means Verstappen takes the maximum 26 points from the race to stretch out his lead in the championship to 11 points over Perez, with Charles Leclerc in third place.

After his frustrating retirement in Australia, it was a perfect response from the 26-year-old with his 56th career victory and 30th converted from pole.

Despite complaining of understeer during the race, prompting a humorous exchange with his race engineer Gianpiero Lambiase, Verstappen declared himself happy with the car and his victory in Suzuka.

Max Verstappen and Sergio Perez of Red Bull celebrate after qualifying for the 2024 Japanese Grand Prix | Getty Images / Red Bull Content Pool
Max Verstappen and Sergio Perez of Red Bull celebrate at the 2024 Japanese Grand Prix | Getty Images / Red Bull Content Pool

“It was very nice. The critical bit was the start to stay ahead and after that the car got better and better for me throughout the race, I don’t know if it had to do with the clouds coming in,” Verstappen said in his post-race interview.

“Everything went well – pit stops, strategy. It couldn’t have been any better. The last race was a little hiccup the last race but very happy we are here back on top. Great fans and in front of Honda as well, it’s fantastic to win here.”

Joe Krishnan
Joe Krishnan
Joe Krishnan is an NCTJ-qualified journalist who has worked for a number of media organisations, including the Daily Express, The Mirror, Evening Standard, The Independent and Bleacher Report. Joe has been following F1 since when he watched Mika Hakkinen clinch the 1999 drivers' championship, and his first taste of real-life racing action was watching David Coulthard spin off into the gravel at the British Grand Prix at Silverstone in 2001.
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