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Max Verstappen won the Japanese Grand Prix to claim his second world title, as the race was shortened due to the extreme rain. Sergio Perez followed in second place, ahead of Charles Leclerc, with some controversy on the last lap, following the Monegasque cutting a corner and being awarded a penalty. 

Max Verstappen – 10

There are no words to describe Verstappen this season. He wins, often with a solitary run and with enormous gaps to his rivals. 

Once more, he repeated the feat in Japan, claiming the fifth pole position of the season and resisting Leclerc’s pressure at the start, by holding on to first place. 

After that, Verstappen opened a large gap and went on to win the title with four races remaining. His advantage is 113 points to his teammate, with this victory being number 12, just one short of a record he can target to surpass.

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Sergio Perez – 8

After a strong outing in Singapore, the Mexican was back to his number two role in Japan, but he managed to give Honda a one-two at their home race. 

He made up for a fourth place in qualifying by overtaking Carlos Sainz at the start and pressurising a struggling Leclerc as the race went on, forcing him into a mistake that granted him second, even though he was third on the line. 

Beating Verstappen would be a close-to-impossible challenge for everyone, so Perez can be happy with second place, as he also moved up into the runner-up spot in the standings. 

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Charles Leclerc – 7.5

With such tight margins in qualifying, which saw him come short by one-hundredth of a second to a 10th pole position of the season, Leclerc expected to be more than just a distant threat to Verstappen. 

He nailed the start, but Verstappen had the advantage of the outside line, which is favourable in wet conditions and could hold on to a first place he wasn’t going to lose. 

Leclerc appeared to run away with the champion, but his pace soon dropped, to be caught up by Perez with a few laps to go. 

He resisted until an avoidable mistake at the very last braking zone, which saw him cut the corner and receive a penalty that cost him second place both in the race and the championship. 

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Esteban Ocon – 9.5 

Alpine needed to bounce back and so did Esteban Ocon, who arrived in Japan after failing to score in the past two races. 

With the car proving quick, the Frenchman did an excellent job, qualifying in P5 and resisting Lewis Hamilton’s consistent pressure throughout the race, never putting a wheel off. 

He also responded to teammate Fernando Alonso’s recent moment of better form, by racing in front of him and coming very close to a podium he would have deserved. 

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Lewis Hamilton – 7.5

Once and to this day a wet weather wizard, Hamilton encountered the struggle of being stuck behind the quick Ocon, as overtaking proved an insurmountable challenge. 

The impression was that Hamilton was faster and could have possibly challenged Leclerc and Perez, but his grid slot of P6 didn’t help, with the Mercedes taking a step back at Suzuka. 

He was faster than teammate George Russell across the weekend and raced relatively flawlessly, but perhaps a more aggressive approach could have earned him a few places. 

Sebastian Vettel – 8.5

His rating is slightly lower due to a lap one spin which could have cost him dearly, but which he made up for with a smart strategy call, being in the first group of cars to pit for intermediate tyres. 

This elevated him from last to P6, a position he had to hold on to, with two intense battles with Alonso, one of which was at the last lap. 

Vettel was also very quick in qualifying, putting his car in P9, as his teammate failed to get out of Q1 and looked comfortable all weekend, overperforming the car. 

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Fernando Alonso – 7

Alonso contributed to a strong Alpine show, clinching seventh place after a late switch to a two-stop strategy that saw him come back from P10 up to his starting slot, with a scintillating pace. 

The car looked quick all weekend, but Alonso couldn’t extract as much as Ocon in qualifying, splitting the two Mercedes cars. He briefly led the race when he was yet to switch to intermediates, which perhaps he did a lap too late. 

The Spaniard tried to get Vettel back in every way, even with a last corner move but was denied. 

George Russell – 6.5 

The Brit will be disappointed with eighth place, as he felt the result wasn’t a reflection of the car’s potential. 

After starting from P8, he dropped to P14 when called to box and waited several seconds behind Hamilton, being left with a lot of ground to make up for. 

He recovered to return in the points but could do no more, as, by the time he moved up to P8, Alonso and Vettel were too far ahead. 

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Nicholas Latifi – 8

And so they arrived. Nicholas Latifi’s first points of the season were long-awaited but fully deserved for the strategy called Williams made, as well as for the resilience the Canadian had during the season. 

Not much time after it was announced he would part ways with Williams, Latifi put on one of the best displays of the season, despite starting from last place. 

He made up several positions at the start and was the first driver to come into the pits for intermediate tyres, climbing up to the points and resisting with a strong pace and no mistakes. 

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Lando Norris – 6

A messy weekend followed his great performance in Singapore, as Lando Norris managed 10th place to get McLaren’s only point. 

The car looked to have some more potential on Saturday, but Norris only managed P10 in Q3 after a close call with Verstappen and had a poor start to drop to P13. 

He recovered places with an early stop, but the pace wasn’t strong and he settled to P10, failing to put up a challenge to Latifi, in front. 

Daniel Ricciardo – 5.5

His early Q2 run saw him fifth and left people hoping that perhaps, just perhaps, the honey badger could bounce back after a tough season. However, as the track improved, so did everyone else, but Daniel Ricciardo, who dropped to 11th and was eliminated. 

He recovered to P8 at the start, but his pit stop to intermediate tyres was left too late and Ricciardo found himself well outside of the points, recovering to P11 at the end. 

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Lance Stroll – 5

The race itself wasn’t too bad, as Lance Stroll made up six places to finish P12. 

However, Vettel’s pace proved that there was more to extract from the Aston Martin and Stroll underperformed, starting from behind and not capitalising on the unpredictability of the strategy. 

Yuki Tsunoda – 6

Yuki Tsunoda had to go through all sorts of difficulties, with a car struggling with brake temperature across the weekend. 

In his home race, he finished 13th, which is the same place he started from. Despite running close to the points in the early part, he opted to stop twice, from which he could do limit recovery.  

Kevin Magnussen – 5

 It was another phantom-like weekend for the Danish driver, who failed to score for the seventh consecutive race, always featuring outside of the points. 

He was only 18th in qualifying and was involved in another first-lap clash, despite making up five places at the start. 

The timing of the pit stop cost him dearly, as he dropped to P17, before moving up three places at the end. 

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Valtteri Bottas – 6

The Finn had a frustrating afternoon, as he spent most of the race stuck behind Kevin Magnussen, after another difficult first lap, in which he lost three places. 

He was close to entering Q3, but the Alfa Romeo is dropping down the order and Valtteri Bottas is struggling to claim points, even if he outperformed teammate Zhou Guanyu across the weekend. 

Zhou Guanyu – 5

It wasn’t the weekend Zhou was hoping for, with a series of mistakes that saw him reach the finish line in 16thplace. 

He was 14th in qualifying, two places behind Bottas, and spun on the opening lap, dropping at the back of the field. 

He gambled, as one of few drivers to stay out longer on full wet tyres, but it didn’t pay off as a meagre consolation was the point for fastest lap. 

Mick Schumacher – 6

Despite losing running time with an FP1 crash that resulted in his FP2 absence, Mick Schumacher extracted more pace from the Haas across the weekend than Magnussen. 

He qualified in P15 and was up to P10 at the start. As it looked like the race promised a return to the points, Schumacher was the driver who stayed out the longest on full wet tyres, briefly leading the race. 

However, his 15 seconds of glory failed to pay off, as this gamble dropped him down the order, reaching the chequered flag in last place, albeit being promoted following a penalty to Pierre Gasly. 

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Pierre Gasly – 5

A tough weekend for the Frenchman, following the announcement that he would drive for Alpine next season. 

He lamented brake issues in qualifying, leading to a Q1 elimination. The decision to change the setup and start from the pits didn’t pay off, as Gasly was also penalised for exceeding the red flag delta and dropping to last place. 

Carlos Sainz – 4

Carlos Sainz is not looking like his former self this season, with Japan being the third time he crashes out in the opening laps in 2022.

It promised to be an exciting race, as he was once again close to pole position, but he dropped a place at the start, once a strength of his own, and then crashed due to aquaplaning soon after. 

This retirement put an end to his chances to claim P2 in the standings, as a podium would have been up for grabs. 

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Alex Albon – N/A

His retirement in lap one was hydraulics-related, but it came because of a collision with Magnussen that put an early end to his race. 

Alex Albon could have capitalised from a smart strategy call, as he was running in front of Latifi, but his race was too short to be judged. 

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May 2024