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Formula One

The five biggest talking points from the Japanese Grand Prix

So the Japanese Grand Prix… occurred. Somehow, we’ve still found five things to talk about

Japanese Grand Prix
  • Normal service resumed at Red Bull

    Normal service resumed at Red Bull

    Two weeks after Max Verstappen’s blazing brake disc opened the door for another Carlos Sainz win, the status quo was restored in Japan as the Dutchman cruised from pole position to the chequered flag without once coming under pressure.

    The only time anyone got close to the three-time champ was in qualifying, when Sergio Perez got within a tenth of demoting his Red Bull teammate to P2 on the grid.

    Verstappen is now 13 points ahead of Perez in the championship and the team already has a comfortable lead over Ferrari in the constructors standings… after the race, rival team boss Toto Wolff professed that the title fight was effectively over already. Oh.

    Meanwhile, the internal chaos at Red Bull hasn’t gone away: reports suggest that the person who complained about team principal Christian Horner’s behaviour is appealing the decision to absolve him, while the power struggle between him and several key figures has yet to resolve itself. Could go on for a while, this one…

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  • Please can someone hire Carlos Sainz already?

    Please can someone hire Carlos Sainz already?

    Ever since he was effectively fired to make way for Lewis Hamilton in 2025, Carlos Sainz has arguably enjoyed the finest form of his career.

    A podium in Bahrain was followed by, er, emergency surgery that ruled him out in Saudi Arabia. But he incredibly bounced back to win in Australia and he was on song again in Japan, outperforming Charles Leclerc in qualifying and then beating him to the podium on race day, despite the latter’s superb recovery drive.

    Sainz has admitted that he is basically talking to every team on the grid, and it’s possible that he could wind up at any of Red Bull, Mercedes, or heck even Sauber, which will of course become Audi in 2026 when the new engine regs could shake up the grid entirely.

    He deserves a top seat, wherever he ends up…

  • Yuki Tsunoda is carrying RB

    Yuki Tsunoda is carrying RB

    Three teams still haven’t scored points in 2024, and RB isn’t one of them thanks to the heroics of Yuki Tsunoda. The 23-year-old scored a solid P7 in Australia, and delivered once again in front of his home crowd with another points finish made possible by a swift pit stop that saw the RB leap ahead of multiple cars. Clutch work from the mechanics, there.

    Compare and contrast with Daniel Ricciardo, who lost out to Tsunoda (again) in qualifying and then lasted three corners in the race as he squeezed out Alex Albon, pitching them both into the tyre wall. Yep, another Williams chassis bites the dust.

    The Aussie just can’t catch a break at the moment, and the longer he makes no impact in that second RB seat, surely the more and more tempting it gets for team boss Laurent Mekies to call up Liam Lawson instead

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  • Lance Stroll did something amusing

    Lance Stroll did something amusing

    Nothing to do with driving though. The Canadian was ejected from qualifying in Q1 and consequently missed out on points as Fernando Alonso hauled his Aston into P6.

    No, Stroll provided some much-needed entertainment towards the end of the grand prix as he radioed in to complain about his car’s performance.

    “It’s unbelievable how bad our speed is on the straight man,” he said, right before his voice quavered. “Like… it’s a different category!”

    Go look up the clip if you missed it in the race. Tres drole.

  • Alpine has a mountain to climb

    Alpine has a mountain to climb

    If you want to know exactly how dire things have got for what used to be F1’s best team outside of the big three not so long ago, then Esteban Ocon whooping and cheering his survival in Q1 (he then finished last in Q2) is as good an indicator as any.

    The race was no better for him or teammate Pierre Gasly, who - of all the finishers - could only beat the Williams of Logan Sargeant. And he spent part of the race reversing out of the gravel.

    In fact, Alpine’s only contribution to the action was being slow enough to be overtaken through the esses, which only tends to happen (and did a bunch of times yesterday) when there’s a big tyre offset between two cars.

    Turns out firing everyone with experience last season was… not just a good idea.

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