Max Verstappen returned to winning ways on Sunday as the Dutchman strolled to victory after seeing off the threat of McLaren duo Oscar Piastri and Lando Norris at the start of the race.
Verstappen’s 13th win of the season moved him a mammoth 177 points clear of team-mate Sergio Perez in the standings, meaning that the Dutchman can claim the Drivers’ Championship title as early as the Qatar Grand Prix sprint race.
There was also plenty to celebrate in the wilder Red Bull camp. Verstappen’s win ensured that the team are now the Constructors’ Championship winners for 2023, capping off a phenomenal season with six months to spare.
Unfortunately for Perez, there was less to celebrate. The Mexican driver was handed two penalties, was involved in two moments of questionable wheel-to-wheel action and retired from the race twice due to a loophole in the rulebook.
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Ricciardo facing fresh issue
Daniel Ricciardo could face a fresh problem come 2025 with Liam Lawson apparently guaranteed a place on the grid with AlphaTauri beyond next season.
As cited by LastWordOnSports, Red Bull have reportedly promised the young New Zealander a seat in 2025 in order to keep hold of their star rookie.
This spells bad news for Ricciardo, who will therefore likely have just one season to impress the Red Bull hierarchy enough to earn a call-up to the Red Bull team.
The popular Aussie stepped into the AT04 for two races in Hungary and Belgium, but a hand injury suffered during FP2 at the Dutch Grand Prix has stunted his progress.
FIA looking into loophole after Checo saga
Sky Sports F1 pundit Ted Kravitz has explained that the FIA will be looking into the loophole that allowed Sergio Perez to re-enter the Japanese Grand Prix and serve a five-second time penalty.
Speaking during his post-race notebook section, Kravitz said: “The FIA said yes so they did it and it worked. It was quite bizarre watching Checo go back, I think he was in his jeans already and having an ice cream. He went back out, served a penalty and then rejoined only to DNF again.
“But I can tell you that the FIA, having seen this loophole, are rather minded to close it off quite quickly for the next race and say for certain infringements – if the penalty has not been served, then it has to be a grid penalty at the next race, they are not going to let Red Bull get away with gaming the rules.
“Don’t get me wrong, it was really clever and if I was in the Red Bull team I would say to definitely do it, it’s competitive. It was genius if you’re competitive, never mind the spirit of the rules haha! But the FIA aren’t too happy about it.”
Good morning and welcome to Express Sport’s rolling F1 news coverage. We’ll be keeping you up to date with all of the latest news and reactions in the fallout from the Japanese Grand Prix.
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