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F1 Japanese GP - Race Report + Analysis

Written by Owen Bradley

Credit: Kym Illman

Formula One returned to the iconic Suzuka Circuit for the 2023 Japanese Grand Prix, and what a chaotic and thrilling race it was.


1st - Max Verstappen, Red Bull Racing - WINNER

2nd - Lando Norris, McLaren - +19.387s

3rd - Oscar Piastri, McLaren - +36.494s

4th - Charles Leclerc, Ferrari - +43.998s

5th - Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes - +49.376s

6th - Carlos Sainz, Ferrari - +50.221s

7th - George Russell, Mercedes - +57.659s

8th - Fernando Alonso, Aston Martin - +74.725s

9th - Esteban Ocon, Alpine - +79.678s

10th - Pierre Gasly, Alpine - +83.155s

11th - Liam Lawson, Alphatauri - + 1 Lap

12th - Yuki Tsunoda, Alphatauri - + 1 Lap

13th - Guanyu Zhou, Alfa Romeo - + 1 Lap

14th - Nico Hulkenberg, Haas - + 1 Lap

15th - Kevin Magnussen, Haas - + 1 Lap

16th - Alex Albon, Williams - DNF

17th - Logan Sargeant, Williams - DNF

18th - Lance Stroll, Aston Martin - DNF

19th - Sergio Perez, Red Bull Racing - DNF

20th - Valtteri Bottas, Alfa Romeo - DNF

Red Bull are the 2023 F1 Constructors' Champions, their 6th Constructors Championship in Formula One, with Verstappen bringing home the points needed, with a dominant victory at Suzuka.

Grand Prix

The Race got underway with both McLaren's swarming Max Verstappen on the run into Turn 1, with Piastri on the inside and Norris on the outside. Piastri ended up backing out as the track tightened up, three-wide was never going to work. Norris tried to fly around the outside of Verstappen at Turn 2, but to no avail as Verstappen managed to cover him off.

Credit: Kym Illman

Then there was a scary crash between Valtteri Bottas and Alex Albon on the run down towards Turn 1, sending Albon hopping into the air for a split second, and sending debris across the track and into the face of Guanyu Zhou. A Safety Car was then deployed for the debris. On the restart, Bottas would be in the wars once again, this time with the other Williams of Logan Sargeant, as Sargeant locked up into the hairpin at Turn 11, going straight into Bottas and sending him into the gravel. Bottas ended up retiring from the race, as Sargeant got a penalty.

It was then revealed that Sergio Perez had received a penalty for overtaking another car under the Safety Car, just before coming into the pit lane to get a new front wing. However, after catching up to Magnussen, Perez made a desperate move into the hairpin, leaving it too late and spinning Magnussen around, damaging the front wing once again. Perez would then come back into the pits and retire the car.

A Virtual Safety Car was then deployed for debris on circuit once again, coming out just at the right time for McLaren's Oscar Piastri, who pitted onto the Hard compound tyres, and saving himself around 10 seconds of race time.

Credit: Kym Illman

Lewis Hamilton and George Russell then began battling each other quite intensively, making light contact at Spoon Curve, sending Russell wide. Russell got on the radio to ask the team why they were fighting each other, quite frustrated at the incident which was then investigated by the FIA. Verstappen and Norris then came in for their stops, with Norris pitting onto the Hard Compound tyres and Verstappen onto the Medium Compound. Norris would end up losing position to Teammate Piastri, who benefited from the Virtual Safety Car.

Piastri and Norris then began a subdued battle, as Piastri wanted to stay out front, playing a masterful strategy and getting himself into that position, however Norris was the quicker driver by over half a second a lap. McLaren swapped both cars, with Piastri appearing unhappy with this decision, though not very outspoken about it.

Shockingly, Sergio Perez then got back into his car, apparently not wanting his 5-second penalty from the contact with Magnussen, to be taken into the next race at Qatar. He would drive a couple of laps, serve his 5-second penalty and then ultimately retire the car once again.

Credit: Mark Thompson

McLaren then pitted both drivers for the Hard Compound tyres again, with Verstappen responding one lap later, with his own set of Hard Tyres. There was then a Fastest Lap point battle between Verstappen and Norris for a while, with Verstappen eventually getting the fastest lap, a 1:34.183.

Norris and Piastri would then go on to overtake Russell, who was on the risky one-stop strategy, nearly making contact. Piastri was chasing his first ever F1 podium, in his rookie season.

Russell then began to sink further through the field, being overtaken by Leclerc, then Hamilton and then eventually Carlos Sainz. Hamilton did try to use Sainz' Singapore strategy with the DRS, against him for George Russell, but the Hard tyres Russell was using, had no traction getting onto the straight, with Russell being a sitting duck even with the DRS.

Max Verstappen would round the final corner, and come home to take his 13th victory in 2023, matching Sebastian Vettel and Michael Schumacher's record of 13 wins in a season, and getting closer to breaking his own record of 15 wins in a season.

Race Stories

Credit: Mark Thompson

Red Bull became the Constructors World Champions for the 6th time, with an extraordinary and dominant performance in 2023, one of the most dominant seasons we've ever seen in F1.

Oscar Piastri managed to get his first ever F1 podium, as a rookie in 2023. Not even the likes of Max Verstappen, Lando Norris or Charles Leclerc had managed to get a podium in their rookie season. However, Piastri didn't look entirely satisfied with P3, likely knowing that it could have been P2 if he was able to battle with Lando Norris, but this is a sign of a great driver, not being entirely satisfied with anything except the victory.

And so, Suzuka delivers once again and proves exactly why F1 loves Japan, one of the best countries with rich history for motorsport in both four-wheels and two-wheels.

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