F1 winners and losers from 2024 Japanese GP

Max Verstappen returned to the top step of the F1 podium at the 2024 Japanese GP


Max Verstappen won a 2024 Japanese Grand Prix that ignited late-on but never threatened anything other than a Red Bull 1-2, with Sergio Perez following the Dutchman home.

The signs weren’t looking good after one of the dullest qualifying sessions in recent memory but diverging strategy in the race produced a fascinating battle with all the points paying positions from third downwards only decided in the closing stages of the race.

McLaren missed out on the podium despite entering the weekend hoping that Suzuka would play to their strengths and they could establish themselves as the second-best team of the weekend, but they also miss out on the list after still scoring 14 points. So who does feature?

Winner: Red Bull

Was it ever in any doubt? Red Bull landed in Japan with just a four-point constructors’ championship lead but that never looked in danger of falling further once they proved their reliability.

If anything, Red Bull look further ahead of the field than they did at Suzuka last September. Yes, the qualifying gap to McLaren was halved from 2023 but that was more down to driver error as Verstappen didn’t nail his final run, particularly in the final sector.

Verstappen effortlessly raced out to a 20-second gap over Sainz when it really mattered, and Perez‘s second-place was one of his most composed performances since the 2023 Azerbaijan GP.

However, the celebration of Perez‘s qualifying performance was overblown given he felt like he nailed his lap and still couldn’t beat Verstappen‘s effort that was far from his best.

Loser: Daniel Ricciardo

RB’s Daniel Ricciardo and Red Bull reserve Liam Lawson in the paddock prior to practice ahead of the 2024 Saudi Arabian GP | Rudy Carezzevoli/Getty Images / Red Bull Content Pool

Could we have said Liam Lawson for this? Christian Horner publicly backed Daniel Ricciardo to turn a difficult start to the season around once he does get a confidence-boosting result, but that feels far from a certainty right now.

He actually started the season by outperforming Yuki Tsunoda at the Bahrain GP and their intra-team spat earned the Australian some brownie points too.

While he can’t be blamed too heavily for the first-lap crash, Ricciardo was more at fault than Alex Albon and it was off the back of a poor getaway from the line. By contrast, Tsunoda used the restart to launch back up the grid and went on to beat Lance Stroll and the much faster Aston Martin to tenth.

It means he’s scored 100% of RB‘s points after also outqualifying Ricciardo once again, and already it feels like Tsunoda is threatening to send Ricciardo down a McLaren-esque slope.

Winner: George Russell

The final stint really was the tale of two Mercedes. The hard tyres could barely have done less for the Silver Arrows if they were square, as Mercedes slipped down the order from an initially promising position.

However, Russell turned it on in the final stint in stark contrast to his teammate, fighting hard to claim an extra two points from Oscar Piastri despite a tough position to make the overtake.

Hamilton had a really tough weekend after initially proclaiming FP1 his best session of the season, and seemed mentally checked out post-race, even suggesting he allow Russell through early in the grand prix.

Did you know Russell has beaten the seven-time champion in every race of 2024 so far? While Mercedes themselves are well behind where they hoped, their driver for 2025 and beyond maximised his result today.

Loser: Williams

Alexander Albon looks on at the 2024 Saudi Arabian GP | Williams F1 Team
Alexander Albon looks on at the 2024 Saudi Arabian GP | Williams F1 Team

When it rains, it pours. Williams just can’t catch a break right now, as two heavy crashes heaped more pressure on their mechanics and spare parts bin with just 10 days until they’ll start setting up in China.

Albon couldn’t have done anything to avoid his first-lap crash with Ricciardo but that doesn’t change the fact that this damage is affecting how many aggressively Williams can upgrade an FW46 that was already a big reset for the team.

Meanwhile Sargeant never looked in contention for points without major incident ahead of him even before his unforced error at the first Degner.

Winner: Fernando Alonso

Fernando Alonso leads Lewis Hamilton of Mercedes, and McLaren’s Oscar Piastri during 2024 Japanese GP | Aston Martin F1 Team
Fernando Alonso leads Lewis Hamilton of Mercedes, and McLaren’s Oscar Piastri during 2024 Japanese GP | Aston Martin F1 Team

Fernando Alonso would’ve wanted a good bounce-back performance after his disappointing Melbourne weekend, and he delivered. The Spaniard gelled well with Aston Martin‘s upgrades and consummately outperformed the struggling Lance Stroll.

It’s still difficult to gauge exactly where the AMR23 fits into the pecking order but Alonso finished ahead of both Mercedes for the third time this season, cannily keeping Piastri in DRS range to stay ahead of Russell.

Aston do appear behind McLaren and Ferrari – the only question is how much – so any top-six finish without retirements ahead certainly counts as an achievement. His qualification was arguably even more impressive though – just four-thousandths off his compatriot and the second row of the grid.

The Aston pitwall more than played their part too (and their gamble on Stroll played into the improved end of the race), it was just a superb weekend from team and driver.

Loser: Alpine

While we try to mix this up which is why the worst team on the grid right now don’t just sit in the losers every single week, you can only give Alpine so many breaks.

The worst thing is that they weren’t completely anonymous this weekend – Esteban Ocon reached Q2 and both drivers found themselves in the top 12 at the restart.

But contact between the drivers is the last thing a team like Alpine needs, and from there they just plummeted down the order. They made overtaking at Suzuka look easy – for everyone else on the grid – with the A524 hopelessly uncompetitive right now.

Winner: Carlos Sainz

Race winner Max Verstappen and third placed Carlos Sainz of Ferrari celebrate on the podium during the 2024 Japanese GP | Clive Mason/Getty Images / Red Bull Content Pool

He’s putting some job application together isn’t he? Perhaps the best indicator of Sainz‘s form was Charles Leclerc‘s somewhat rattled response in his Thursday press conference when asked about the intra-team battle at Ferrari.

The Monegasque is always affable, but his answers to the media also almost universally toe the party line. So it was fascinating to see Leclerc get about as punchy as he goes (granted, he’s still no Mike Tyson) by comparing Sainz’s headline-grabbing results over the past 12 months to their overall record as Ferrari teammates.

“Wins are important but also points at the end of the season are even more so.

“At the end of the day, I think very quickly people tend to forget That and it’s based on the last race”

Leclerc addesses his Ferrari battle with Carlos Sainz

Ahead of 2024, Leclerc had beaten his teammate in two out of three years by an average of 21 points but that record will come under increasing threat if this season’s status quo continues.

Sainz has been rocking all over the world when fit to race so far to the tune of a victory and two other podiums in the three grand prix he’s started, and is the outstanding 2025 free agent right now amongst a star-studded list.

Both Ferraris from very well in Japan with Sainz benefitting from the optimal strategy (and his better qualifying) while Leclerc pushed his tyres to the limit for fourth, but the Spaniard’s 2024 record could scarcely be better in the circumstances.

Adam Dickinson
Adam Dickinson
An international multi-award-winning journalist, Adam Dickinson has written for Total-Motorsport.com since June 2022 and also contributes to TNT Sports, Eurosport and the Rugby Paper. He's also had articles published in the Daily Telegraph and several local newspapers, previously worked for Last-Lap.co.uk and FeederSeries.net in motorsport, and graduated with a First-Class Journalism Degree from the University of Sheffield having also studied in Oklahoma. Adam started watching F1 by accident in 2007, catching the last race in Indianapolis, and attended his first race as a journalist at the 2023 British Grand Prix.
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