The Japanese Grand Prix had an exciting start to the race as Ferrari were their own enemy once again. The Maranello outfit had a strong qualifying session to earn first and second on the grid, yet that didn’t last very long in the race.
Sebastian Vettel had a poor start as he moved forward in his position box before the red lights had gone out at the start. The driver was forced to stop and then accelerated again, which allowed Valtteri Bottas to spring past him into the lead at the first corner.
Aside from Vettel’s mistakes, Charles Leclerc was also another victim of Ferrari’s poor decision making in the Japanese Grand Prix. Leclerc had a slow start and Red Bull’s Max Verstappen was alongside him through the first two corners.
In the second turn, Leclerc had gone wide and hit Verstappen, which spun the Red Bull driver off the track and left damage on the side of his car. In the 15th lap of the race, the Dutch driver had to retire as he couldn’t continue with the amount of damage which was sustained from his collision with Leclerc.
Mercedes race-pace superior to Ferrari's
These mistakes proved to be costly and Mercedes took full advantage as they have done countless times this season. Vettel finished in second and Leclerc finished in seventh place.
To make matters worse, Mercedes clinched their sixth double in a row and they officially won the Constructors Title. Additionally, Bottas and Lewis Hamilton are the only two drivers left in the running for the Driver’s Championship.
Mercedes driver Bottas had a good start to the race and capitalized on Vettel’s early mistake. The pit crew did well with efficient pit stops to keep their drivers ahead.
Hamilton made his second pit stop late in the race as the crew were uncertain if he could continue the race with only one stop. After coming out of the pit-lane, he challenged Vettel for second, however, the Ferrari driver did very well to defend and hung on to second place.
As for the rest of the field in the top ten, Alexander Albon finished fourth, Carlos Sainz fifth, Daniel Ricciardo sixth, Charles Leclerc seventh, Pierre Gasly eighth, Sergio Perez ninth and Nico Hulkenberg rounding up the top ten.
A bad day for Leclerc
Leclerc started in second on the grid after a strong qualifying session, however, two penalties and a collision cost the Ferrari driver from finishing on pole.
In the first lap, Leclerc hit Verstappen and the stewards deemed the Ferrari driver predominantly at fault for the incident. He was handed a five-second time penalty as well as two penalty points on his license.
The second penalty came after Leclerc decided to continue driving with a damaged front wing after the collision. He did not bring the car to the pit at the end of lap one and the race director told the driver to stay out and this was deemed unsafe by the stewards.
The Monegasque’s car suffered front wing damage, with a small piece of it detaching on lap two and then a larger piece breaking off and hitting Hamilton’s Mercedes. This resulted in a $25,000 fine for Ferrari and a 10-second penalty. The two penalties led to Leclerc to finish in seventh and Ricciardo to finish in sixth.
Red Bull continue to struggle with bad luck
Since winning the German Grand Prix, Verstappen has been unable to follow up with similar results. It was a difficult day in Japan for the Dutch driver.
He collided with Leclerc and this put a dent into his race, causing the driver to retire in the 15th lap. Verstappen will now look forward to the next Grand Prix in Mexico and will need to hope for better fortunes at a track he has had success at previously.