Let’s get rid of the initial question: after his mechanical disappointment at the Melbourne Grand Prix (GP), Max Verstappen (Red Bull) has – unsurprisingly – regained first place. The one he had not left during the nine Grands Prix preceding that of Australia. The three-time reigning world champion, who started from pole position, scored the 57th victory of his career – the third at Suzuka – on Sunday April 7. He is ahead of his Mexican teammate Sergio Pérez… as in Jeddah, and as in Bahrain.

And besides that ? Behind the dominant Red Bull drivers, the Japanese race had no shortage of twists and turns. After his victory in Australia, Carlos Sainz (Ferrari), third, remains on good momentum by reaching the podium for the third time this season. The Spaniard, who will no longer drive for Ferrari in 2025, overtook his teammate Charles Leclerc, 4th, at the end of the race.

“It was tense, as always at Suzuka, but it went well. I was fast on the hard tires and that gave me confidence to go for the podium,” reacted the Spanish driver to Canal. The Briton Lando Norris, 5th, confirmed the ease of the McLarens on the fast tracks.

A spectacular accident at the start

The race was especially marked by a spectacular accident followed by a red flag at the start of the Grand Prix. Daniel Ricciardo and Alex Albon crashed into the wall of tires after the former hit the latter at the third corner. Fortunately, both drivers escaped the collision unscathed.

Difficult to say the same for the heavily damaged chassis of the Williams. The British team could find itself in a delicate situation during the Chinese GP (April 20 and 21), when it does not have any spare chassis. A scenario reminiscent of Australia, where only one car was able to start after Alex Albon’s accident in free practice.

Fernando Alonso (Aston Martin), sixth in Japan, confirmed his good intentions, at a time when his possible transfer to Red Bull was being discussed in the paddock. The Spanish world champion could join Max Verstappen. The Austrian team would strike a big blow sportingly, but also from the point of view of its image: the last duo of world champions dates back to 2018, when Sebastian Vettel and Kimi Raikkonen raced for Ferrari.

The Dutchman, however, does not seem to be in favor of it: “Red Bull has always had a tradition of training young drivers itself. She already deviated from this trend with the signing of Sergio Perez, as there was no one in the pool at the time. But it would go even further with a 42-year-old driver. »

On the French side, there was no miracle for Alpine. Despite the arrival of the first modifications of the A524, the results are still poor and the atmosphere seems frosty in the French team. From the start, Esteban Ocon, 15th, complained on the radio about having been hit by his teammate Pierre Gasly, 16th, before getting angry, halfway through, with his engineer: “I’m already in the process of to attack, what are you talking about? » “It’s a racing accident, but one that costs us aerodynamic performance, almost a second per lap,” said Gasly after the race. The French team, which did not score any points, is carrying out its worst start to the season since 2016. “We made a leap forward in qualifying, but we’re not where we want to be in the race,” Ocon said. Today, we took a step back in the race, we must continue to work headlong. »

In the World Drivers’ Championship standings, Max Verstappen is leader with 77 points. The Dutchman is ahead of Sergio Pérez (64) and the two Ferrari drivers, Charles Leclerc (59) and Carlos Sainz (55). The next Grand Prix will be held in Shanghai from April 19 to 21, where a sprint race is also planned.