2024 Japanese Grand Prix: Verstappen Leads Home Red Bull 1-2

Round four of the 2024 F1 season landed in springtime Japan at the Suzuka Circuit for the officially titled Formula 1 MSC Cruises Japanese Grand Prix.


By Ben Bush
Published on April 7, 2024

Reviewed and checked by Lee Parker

2024 Japanese Grand Prix Podium
Max Verstappen P1, Sergio Perez P2 and Carlos Sainz P3 – 2024 Japanese Grand Prix Podium

Unlike in previous seasons, when Suzuka featured in September or October, the Japanese Grand Prix appeared much earlier in April, at a time of the year when locals and fans could enjoy the impressive cherry blossoms in bloom. But who would leave Suzuka the happiest come Sunday?

Home favourite Yuki Tsunoda hoped the fans’ support would lead him to back-to-back points finishes after opening his account in the previous Melbourne race. With his RB teammate Daniel Ricciardo under pressure from the team and media to perform better after three difficult race weekends, he would need a strong drive to silence his critics.

During qualifying, Max Verstappen narrowly pipped his Red Bull teammate Sergio Perez to secure pole position, with Perez’s final attempt bringing him to within just 0.066 seconds of Verstappen’s leading time of 1:28.197. It was Red Bull’s first front-row lockout since the 2023 Bahrain Grand Prix, remarkable considering their dominance but reflective of Sergio Perez’s occasional struggles to leverage his car’s performance advantage.

After failing to finish the previous race, Max Verstappen rebounded from his early retirement in Australia with a dominant performance at the Japanese Grand Prix on Sunday. He secured the win ahead of his Red Bull teammate Sergio Perez and Ferrari’s Carlos Sainz.

Verstappen was in the lead from the beginning to the end, with unexpectedly warm weather conditions, diverse tyre strategies, and an initial collision involving Red Bull’s Daniel Ricciardo and Williams’ Alex Albon contributing to the dynamic of the race.

This win represented Verstappen’s third consecutive win from pole position at Suzuka and his third win in four races in 2024, strengthening his position in the drivers’ championship following a setback due to a brake failure at Albert Park previously.

Championship background

After a week’s break from the Australian Grand Prix, teams and drivers were ready to race again for the fourth round of the 2024 season.

After being comprehensively beaten by Ferrari in Australia, all eyes were on Red Bull to see how they responded to Max Verstappen’s woes down under and a lacklustre performance by his teammate Sergio Perez after Carlos Sainz led home a Ferrari 1-2 with Charles Leclerc.

In form, Sainz was looking to continue his impressive drive at Albert Park to boost his appeal, still in search of a drive for the 2025 season now that Hamilton had been confirmed as his replacement at the start of the year.

Elsewhere on the grid, Mercedes needed a strong race after two DNFs in the previous race. Lewis Hamilton had reliability issues, and George Russell crashed on the final lap. As a result, Mercedes fell down the standings behind McLaren, who secured third and fourth in Melbourne.

Race entries

After Alex Albon crashed in FP1 at the 2024 Australian Grand Prix and subsequently took Logan Sargeant’s chassis for the rest of that race weekend, who had to sit out on the sidelines, the Japanese Grand Prix saw Sargeant’s return to Williams.

FP1 saw Daniel Riccardo relinquish his seat for Super Formula racer Ayumu Iwasa, who made his F1 debut with the RB team during that session. Riccardo resumed normal activity from FP2 onwards.

Aside from FP1, which featured Ayumu Iwasa, all the drivers from the start of the season took to the track during Qualifying and the Grand Prix.

Tyre choices

As was the case at the season opener in Bahrain, F1’s official tyre supplier, Pirelli, brought the hardest compounds from their range to Suzuka with the C1, C2 and C3 tyres.

Two sets of the hard tyre (marked white), three sets of the medium tyre (marked yellow), and eight sets of the soft tyre (marked red) are available to drivers across the weekend alongside the green intermediate tyre and the blue full wets.

Unlike in previous seasons, the 2024 Japanese Grand Prix featured much earlier in the year, changing from a typically September or October slot to April. Despite this, Pirelli still chose a hard combination of tyres, even with lower temperatures expected during the weekend.


Free Practice

Continuing with the standard Friday and Saturday practice sessions, FP1, FP2, and FP3 took place over the race weekend.

FP1 was held on the 5th of April 2024, under cool, mostly dry conditions, with drivers starting their runs on medium and hard tyres. The reigning drivers’ champion, Max Verstappen, quickly set the benchmark on the C1 tyre, outpacing McLaren’s Lando Norris and Aston Martin’s Fernando Alonso, who were on the C2. As Lewis Hamilton switched to soft tyres, anticipating others to do the same, Sargeant misjudged a turn at Dunlop Curve, veering off into the grass, losing control of his Williams, and crashing into the barriers, resulting in a Red Flag. Once the session resumed, drivers took to the track on soft C3 tyres for performance runs. Verstappen posted the best time of 1m 30.056s, narrowly leading Perez by less than two-tenths of a second.

FP2 later in the day was heavily affected by rain, with only five drivers managing to post lap times. Oscar Piastri claimed the fastest lap amidst sporadic track action. Notable absentees from the session were Max Verstappen, his Red Bull teammate Sergio Perez, the Aston Martin duo of Fernando Alonso and Lance Stroll, Alpine’s Pierre Gasly, Mercedes’ George Russell, and Sargeant.

The final practice, FP3, was held on Saturday, April 6th. Max Verstappen led the field, with Red Bull teammate Sergio Perez following. After a disturbed FP2, Free Practice 3 saw a flurry of activity as drivers eagerly took to the track in improved weather conditions. Mercedes drivers George Russell and Lewis Hamilton claimed third and fourth, buoyed by their car’s performance in the initial practice sessions. Fernando Alonso, driving an updated Aston Martin, secured fifth, ahead of McLaren’s Lando Norris, who narrowly missed completing a fast lap due to a kerb mishap.

Full Free Practice Reports


Qualifying, held on April 6, 2024, saw Verstappen secure pole position for the Grand Prix. He overcame a late challenge from his Red Bull teammate Sergio Perez, with Lando Norris in third. Norris in the McLaren delivered an exceptional performance against the formidable Red Bull RB20, ahead of the 2024 Australian Grand Prix winner Carlos Sainz in the Ferrari. The duo notably outperformed their teammates, with Oscar Piastri and Charles Leclerc landing in sixth and eighth, respectively.

Full Qualifying Report

11Max VerstappenRed Bull Racing Honda RBPT1:28.8661:28.7401:28.19712
211Sergio PerezRed Bull Racing Honda RBPT1:29.3031:28.7521:28.26312
34Lando NorrisMcLaren Mercedes1:29.5361:28.9401:28.48913
455Carlos SainzFerrari1:29.5131:29.0991:28.68212
514Fernando AlonsoAston Martin Aramco Mercedes1:29.2541:29.0821:28.68612
681Oscar PiastriMcLaren Mercedes1:29.4251:29.1481:28.76012
744Lewis HamiltonMercedes1:29.6611:28.8871:28.76615
816Charles LeclercFerrari1:29.3381:29.1961:28.78612
963George RussellMercedes1:29.7991:29.1401:29.00815
1022Yuki TsunodaRB Honda RBPT1:29.7751:29.4171:29.41318
113Daniel RicciardoRB Honda RBPT1:29.7271:29.47212
1227Nico HulkenbergHaas Ferrari1:29.8211:29.49412
1377Valtteri BottasKick Sauber Ferrari1:29.6021:29.59312
1423Alexander AlbonWilliams Mercedes1:29.9631:29.7149
1531Esteban OconAlpine Renault1:29.8111:29.81612
1618Lance StrollAston Martin Aramco Mercedes1:30.0246
1710Pierre GaslyAlpine Renault1:30.1196
1820Kevin MagnussenHaas Ferrari1:30.1319
192Logan SargeantWilliams Mercedes1:30.1396
2024Zhou GuanyuKick Sauber Ferrari1:30.1436

What happened in the 2024 Japanese Grand Prix?

Red Bull’s Max Verstappen clinched a convincing win, rebounding from an unexpected DNF in Melbourne with a third one-two finish for Red Bull in 2024. Carlos Sainz narrowly beat his Ferrari teammate Charles Leclerc for third after the race saw an early red flag due to a collision between Daniel Ricciardo and Alex Albon.

Just two weeks after an unforeseen first-race retirement in two years at the Australian Grand Prix—a race claimed by Ferrari’s Carlos Sainz—Verstappen made a striking comeback at Suzuka. The reigning world champion outperformed his teammate Sergio Perez by a solid 12-second margin.

The race initially faced a halt with a red flag on the first lap when RB’s Ricciardo and Williams’ Albon crashed into each other, leading to a collision for both into the barriers.

Following a 30-minute interruption to remove the damaged cars and repairs to the Turn Three barriers, Verstappen again outpaced Perez at the second start, swiftly taking the lead. The race unfolded with a mix of tyre strategies among the top 10 drivers.

Sainz secured third place, continuing his streak of podium finishes in 2024, even though it required him to overtake his teammate after Leclerc showcased an impressive performance on a unique one-stop strategy. Leclerc’s strategy came after a disappointing qualifying that saw him start from eighth.

Starting third, McLaren’s Lando Norris was eventually overtaken by both Ferrari drivers, finishing fifth. The MCL38 struggled to match the pace of the Ferraris throughout the race.

Fernando Alonso delivered a standout performance in the Aston Martin, securing a sixth place by fending off faster drivers throughout the weekend.

In the closing stages, facing intense competition from Oscar Piastri, also on a two-stop strategy, and Mercedes’ George Russell, who had opted for fresher tyres on his later second pit stop, Alonso managed to maintain his position ahead of both.

Piastri, unable to overtake Alonso, was caught and passed by Russell for seventh place during the final lap’s opening corner.

An earlier attempt by Russell to overtake at the chicane led to contact, forcing McLaren off the track, yet they retained their position. The race stewards’ subsequent investigation concluded there were no penalties needed.

Lewis Hamilton, starting from seventh, concluded the race in ninth. His race strategy was hampered by a disappointing performance and understeer issues. Capitalising on the race’s initial red flag, Mercedes switched to a hard tyre strategy aiming for a single pit stop. Hamilton, struggling behind Russell, eventually allowed his teammate to pass, a move he couldn’t counterbalance later in the race.

Yuki Tsunoda delighted the local fans by clinching tenth, rounding off the points positions.

In the Drivers’ Championship standings, Verstappen extended his lead to 13 points after the fourth race, with Perez moving back into second place. This left Leclerc trailing by an additional five points.

2024 Japanese Grand Prix race results

11Max Verstappen*Red Bull Racing Honda RBPT531:54:23.56626
211Sergio PerezRed Bull Racing Honda RBPT53+12.535s18
355Carlos SainzFerrari53+20.866s15
416Charles LeclercFerrari53+26.522s12
54Lando NorrisMcLaren Mercedes53+29.700s10
614Fernando AlonsoAston Martin Aramco Mercedes53+44.272s8
763George RussellMercedes53+45.951s6
881Oscar PiastriMcLaren Mercedes53+47.525s4
944Lewis HamiltonMercedes53+48.626s2
1022Yuki TsunodaRB Honda RBPT52+1 lap1
1127Nico HulkenbergHaas Ferrari52+1 lap0
1218Lance StrollAston Martin Aramco Mercedes52+1 lap0
1320Kevin MagnussenHaas Ferrari52+1 lap0
1477Valtteri BottasKick Sauber Ferrari52+1 lap0
1531Esteban OconAlpine Renault52+1 lap0
1610Pierre GaslyAlpine Renault52+1 lap0
172Logan SargeantWilliams Mercedes52+1 lap0
NC24Zhou GuanyuKick Sauber Ferrari12DNF0
NC3Daniel RicciardoRB Honda RBPT0DNF0
NC23Alexander AlbonWilliams Mercedes0DNF0
*Fastest lap: Max Verstappen (Red Bull Racing Honda RBPT) – 1:33.706 (lap 50)

2024 Post-Race F1 Championship Standings

Championship standings for Drivers’ and Teams after the 2024 Japanese Grand Prix.

2024 Post-Race F1 Drivers’ Championship Standings

1Max VerstappenNEDRed Bull Racing Honda RBPT77
2Sergio PérezMEXRed Bull Racing Honda RBPT64
3Charles LeclercMONFerrari59
4Carlos SainzESPFerrari55
5Lando NorrisGBRMcLaren37
6Oscar PiastriAUSMcLaren32
7George RussellGBRMercedes24
8Fernando AlonsoESPAston Martin Mercedes24
9Lewis HamiltonGBRMercedes10
10Lance StrollCANAston Martin Mercedes9
11Yuki TsunodaJPNRB-Honda RBPT7
12Oliver BearmanGBRFerrari6
13Nico HulkenbergGERHaas Ferrari3
14Kevin MagnussenDENHaas Ferrari1
15Alexander AlbonTHAWilliams Mercedes0
16Zhou GuanyuCHNStake F1 Team0
17Daniel RicciardoAUSRB-Honda RBPT0
18Esteban OconFRAAlpine Renualt0
19Pierre GaslyFRAAlpine Renualt0
20Valtteri BottasFINStake F1 Team0
21Logan SargeantUSAWilliams Mercedes0

2024 Post-Race F1 Constructors’ Championship Standings

1Red Bull Racing Honda RBPT141
3McLaren Mercedes69
5Aston Martin Mercedes33
6RB-Honda RBPT7
7Haas Ferrari4
8Williams Mercedes0
9Stake F1 Team0
10Alpine Renualt0

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About The Author

Chief Editor

Ben Bush

Ben is our chief editor specialising in F1 from the 1990s to the modern era. Ben has been following Formula 1 since 1986 and is an avid researcher who loves understanding the technology that makes it one of the most exciting motorsport on the planet. He listens to podcasts about F1 on a daily basis, and enjoys reading books from the inspirational Adrian Newey to former F1 drivers.

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