Max Verstappen closes in on third straight title

He won the Japanese Grand Prix on Sunday

By Web Desk
September 24, 2023
Verstappen has won 13 of 16 races so far this season. - AFP 

Formula 1 driver Max Verstappen closed in on a third straight title and helped his team bag the constructors' championship by clinching the Japanese Grand Prix on Sunday.

He finished ahead of McLaren pair Lando Norris and Oscar Piastri in Suzuka to increase his lead to 177 points over nearest challenger and teammate Sergio Perez. He can win the championship at the Qatar Grand Prix next month.

Verstappen has won 13 of 16 races so far this season and he said his car "is just better this year".

"The people are pretty much in the same spot and we know that they're good," he said.

"It's about working with an even better car this year. A bit more predictable this year as well."

Verstappen made a grand comeback after a disappointing fifth-place finish at last week's Singapore Grand Prix.

He took the lead at the first turn after a double challenge from McLaren.

First the Dutchman veered right to squeeze out Piastri, who was starting from second on the grid, then moved left to stop Norris from darting through the gap.

"I saw in the right mirror that Oscar had a little bit of a jump on me but at the same time I saw in my left mirror that Lando had a real jump on me," said Verstappen.

"Luckily nothing happened, it all got quite close -- that's racing, that's how it goes at the start."

Verstappen said it was "quite a straightforward race" from then on, with the Dutchman finishing an impressive 19.387sec ahead of Norris.

"No real issues throughout the race, and I think that just sums up the weekend," said Verstappen, who finished fastest in qualifying and all three practices in Japan.

"It's just been an incredible weekend to drive the car."

— Additional input from AFP