Red Bull Racing driver finishes fourth as Verstappen is taken out and Bottas wins.
Because of the threat from the Typhoon Hagibis, which hit large areas of Japan this weekend, organisers of the Japanese Grand Prix at Suzuka were forced to run qualifying a few hours before the start of the race on Sunday morning, leading to a pretty intense day for the teams and drivers.
Aston Martin Red Bull Racing’s Albon celebrated his best-ever result in his debut year, coming home fourth at Honda’s home circuit to continue his impressive points-scoring streak in his fifth race for the team.
RED BULL RACING
ALEX ALBON, Finish Position: 4th, Start Position: 6th
“Fourth is my F1 career best finish and this weekend has definitely felt like my best with the Team. Immediately from FP1 I felt comfortable with the car and the balance, which is important for a track like Suzuka where you need a lot of confidence, especially on your first visit! I wanted more in the race and felt like I could have done better at the start but I had too much wheel spin off the line and lost a couple of places to the McLarens. I managed to get back past them but by then I had already lost a lot of time to the lead pack. The move on Lando for P5 was on, he gave me space and left the door open but it was a bit tight! We then managed to get past Carlos with some good strategy by undercutting him, but from then onwards we were in no man’s land in P4. It was just about managing the tyres to the end but with Max’s DNF it was good to score some points for the Team and fourth was the best we could do. I’m still finding my feet but overall I’m happy with my pace and progress and we took a step forward this weekend. Coming into the weekend we probably wanted more, especially for Honda, and we were close but we just didn’t quite have the pace. Now we’ll do our homework and hopefully come back stronger in Mexico.“
MAX VERSTAPPEN, Finish Position: DNF, Start Position: 5th
“I had a really good start and I think I was up to third place which was positive. I stayed on the outside at Turn 2 but Charles drove into the side of my car. I guess Charles was trying to recover places after the start but it’s a long race so there was no need to risk so much so early. We both lost out but he managed to carry on once he replaced his front wing. I re-joined at the back of the field but my car was severely damaged and we had to retire on Lap 15. From my side I don’t think I could have done anything different, so now it will be investigated by the stewards. It’s very frustrating as I think we had a good chance of being on the podium again especially after such a good start, which would have been amazing for all the Honda fans supporting us. We are definitely improving and the gap is closing but there is still more work to do before Mexico.”
CHRISTIAN HORNER, Team Principal
“After a great start Max was unfortunately involved in contact at Turn 2 with Leclerc which resulted in him retiring from the race. It looked like Max gave Charles plenty of room but we will let the stewards deal with that. Alex had a less than perfect getaway, dropping behind the McLarens but he fought back well, making the two stop strategy work. He passed Norris in a firm but fair move on lap four and closed quickly on Sainz. The remainder of the race was quite lonely but Alex drove faultlessly to bring the car home in P4, his best Formula One result to date. Leaving Suzuka with a fourth place and a DNF is slightly disappointing at Honda’s home race after such a fantastic turnout from a very enthusiastic crowd. Our congratulations go to Mercedes on winning their sixth Constructors’ Championship here today.”
SCUDERIA TORO ROSSO
Pierre Gasly (STR14-04, Car 10)
Qualifying – Best lap: (Q1) 1:29.411, (Q2) 1:28.779, (Q3) 1:28.836, pos. 9th
Race: Pos. 8th
“I’m very happy with today! It started really well this morning as I made it to Q3 and qualified ninth. We didn’t really expect to make it there after such short preparation, since I missed both FP1 and FP3. I spent most of the race running in P7 and P8, it was really intense as Renault and Racing Point were pushing very hard. We had a suspension issue in the middle of the race which made it quite tough, so I just gave it everything I had inside of the car to keep the position. There were some intense battles and I really wanted to make it to the end for the team, Honda, and for the Japanese fans who came out to support us. I’m really pleased to score points for the team, especially in Japan…it feels really special! We can be pleased with the day and we can’t wait for the remaining races.”
Daniil Kvyat (STR14-03, Car 26)
Qualifying – Best lap: (Q1) 1:29.723, (Q2) 1:29.563, pos. 14th
Race: Pos. 12th
“This morning everything was OK until the last lap of my Qualifying. I don’t know why I was so slow on the last lap, the car felt a bit different to Friday – the conditions were quite different – but we all had to deal with it in the same way. Starting the race from P14 was not ideal and I knew it was going to be tricky. I feel like the race itself was strong, and even if we lost a couple of places at the start, from then on it was a solid recovery. It’s a shame not to score points because the pace was really good. We will need to work in order to improve our Qualifying.”
Franz Tost (Team Principal):
“After yesterday’s difficult weather conditions, which forced Qualifying to be postponed to Sunday, we showed quite a good performance this morning; Pierre qualified ninth, while Daniil had some problems on his last run in Q2 and qualified 14th. Both Drivers had a reasonably good start of the race. We called Pierre in on lap 18 and he was able to stay ahead of Stroll when he re-joined the race. Pierre was capable of holding his position, driving a very strong race and defending well, finishing in eighth position. He was able to get the maximum out of the car, especially considering that we detected a problem on his suspension, which made his car more difficult to drive. Pierre had to be very careful – especially on the last laps – not to lose the rear, but he managed it in a professional way, showing very good car control. Daniil stayed out longer as we brought him in on lap 27. He showed a good performance overtaking many cars, but unfortunately, that wasn’t enough to score points. However, it’s positive that today’s race increased the gap to Racing Point by two more points. We now head to Mexico for the last back to back races of the year, where we hope to continue to score points.”