White form recovery, maturation, alarm bells and time running out fast. This is the winners and losers of Japan GP 2023. In the largely dominant Mercedes era, the team went to Japan after struggling in Singapore and pitted at Suzuka.
Mercedes, now Red Bull, but Max Verstappen is ready to give the field an absolute blast similar to what Lewis Hamilton did here in 2017 and 2018. But in the non-Verstappen class, it was an exciting battle overall. of the brightest young prospects to finish in the F1 series added another feather to their cap, while the rookie’s chances of finishing his second year were greatly reduced. Let’s start the 2023 F1 Japanese Grand Prix by qualifying winners and losers with pole sitter Verstappen.
Winner – Max Verstappen Rarely, if ever, can a driver be as confident at a Grand Slam as Verstappen was at the Japanese GP. If he exits Turn 1 in one piece, all four wheels in the same direction, he disappears on the road to Suzuka and that is the race wins. It was a tremendous display, although he took the loss in Singapore very personally and is on a revenge mission.
His lap was excellent for a driver who, despite his struggles in Singapore, was a serious threat to win, only to be taken out by the timing of the safety car. With a 177-point lead after 53 rounds on a 180-point board, he can’t get the best of the Japanese title and it won’t be over until the fat lady sings. But he’s been clearing his throat for months and is just about to hit the high note. This is pure, raw, unfiltered Verstappen in his astonishingly destructive ways. Such a high level is rarely seen in top sports. What did Verstappen say? “We had a bad weekend in Singapore, but during the preparation I felt it would be a good track, but of course you never know how good it will be, but from the first round [the car] was very nice.”
Loser – Sergio Pérez Like Rubens Barrichello and Valtteri Bottas before him, Sergio Perez has the unfortunate position of teammate to a man who was considered “the man” of his era. Of the three, Bottas was the most likely to have a good weekend to match teammate Lewis Hamilton and take the win, but he just couldn’t do it consistently. Bottas was always close to Hamilton in qualifying and beat him about a third of the time. That made his Sunday a lot easier than Perez has been lately, The simple fact is this: Perez cannot use the fact that he could not set up the car correctly as an excuse for his poor performance. The RB19 hasn’t fully unleashed this season and is more of a race car than a qualifying car, but the sheer raw speed known as Verstappen usually finds it.
Perez needs to do a better job of being closer to Verstappen more often. Seven-tenths of a second on equal machinery on the same track in the same conditions and in an intact car is a gap the McLaren duo and Charles Leclerc were happy to sink into. For Perez to be so far behind Verstappen is simply not acceptable – although he crowned Hamilton as “the man to beat”. What did Perez say? “Using the second [set of tyres] in Q2 was not ideal and it put us behind McLaren, mainly because we didn’t have new tires [in Q3].
” Winner – Oscar Piastri Approaching one of the most terrifying tracks in the world for the first time in F1 and leaving the elite is a good day’s work for Oscar Piastr. Armed with a new three-year contract in his back pocket, the Australian immediately won the “non-Verstappen class”, finishing with a 0.581 for Red Bull. But he was less than a tenth ahead of Lando Norris in a sister MCL60 and Charles Leclerc in a Ferrari.
Let’s not forget, this is also his first weekend with the latest updates, It’s all about putting in as strong a performance as possible, and she’s certainly a worthy maiden F1 trophy in racing. What did Piastri say? “It’s going to be cool because I only have to pass one car, so I’m going to try…”
Loser – Mercedes For an example of how much Mercedes’ fortunes have changed in recent years, look no further than Singapore and Japan.
In dominant driving, Brackley’s cars crashed at fast-flowing tracks like Suzuka or Silverstone and tended to struggle at slow tracks like Marina Bay or Monaco. The W14 also doesn’t like bends, so it’s better in full-speed corners or mid-slow corners, but it’s hard to set up tracks with fast sweepers, zigzags and hairpins.
Mercedes are clearly fourth best at Suzuka, as evidenced by Lewis Hamilton’s seventh and George Russell’s eighth – always a good indicator of the pack’s potential when their team-mates are behind them. Both drivers warned the team of the fact that high-speed rear instability had not been fixed since it was first discovered at Silverstone.
If Mercedes can’t fix this weakness in the W15 series over the winter, they can forget about catching Red Bull in 2024 or 2025 while they spend all of 2024 trying to catch up. Even more worrying is the fact that Aston Martin and McLaren – both teams that this monster should beat easily – have both managed to make big strides this season – twice in McLaren’s case. Applying for Mercedes is not enough. Solutions are needed