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5 things that made 2024 Japanese Grand Prix worth watching

Red Bull and Max Verstappen are back on top

It was right for Formula 1 to move the Japanese Grand Prix to early April for a cooler and more scenic race. PHOTO FROM FORMULA 1

Under the gorgeous Sakura trees in full bloom at the Suzuka Circuit, we saw the 2024 Japanese Grand Prix unfold. While not as exciting as that banger of a race held two weeks ago in Australia, several key things happened that made this race worth watching.

Two major crashes put Williams in a tight spot for the next race. PHOTOS FROM FORMULA 1

1. Williams chassis woes continued. Remember when Alex Albon had to end up driving Logan Sargeant‘s car in the last race after a heavy crash? The team didn’t have a spare chassis at the time, hence having to bench the American for that race.

This time, the team ended up yet having two more major crashes. The first was Sargeant’s crash during Free Practice 1. He missed out on the second practice but was able to participate in the race. Then, Albon was sent into the barriers after being clipped by Daniel Ricciardo (VCARB) on Lap 1.

This obviously red-flagged the race (and shortened the duration by two laps), but the main concern here is that Williams will need to repair the damaged chassis in time. Otherwise, the team will face a problem once the circus makes its way to China.

How long do you think Daniel Ricciardo will keep his seat? PHOTO FROM FORMULA 1

2. A tale of two VCARBs. Things aren’t looking so good for Daniel Ricciardo right now. Aside from being involved in that major crash with Albon on the first lap, he narrowly missed out on a Q3 appearance by just 0.732 second.

It may just be P10, but to Yuki Tsunoda, it means a lot for finishing in front of his home crowd. PHOTOS FROM FORMULA 1

Ironically, his teammate, Yuki Tsunoda, beat him to that 10th-place qualifying spot. While the VCARB isn’t the fastest out there, the Japanese driver made some bold moves after being pushed down to P12 following the race restart.

Couple that with a speedy pit stop that helped him jump two cars, and he managed to finish in the points with a P10 finish. A great way to end a race for Yuki, and it was also his first time ever to score points at his home race.

George Russell had a fairly respectable and exciting race. PHOTOS FROM FORMULA 1

3. A so-so weekend for Mercedes-AMG. After a double DNF in Australia, the team was confident it could make up for that this weekend.

Thankfully, no accidents happened to the two Silver Arrows, but the cars just weren’t up to speed for the drivers during qualifying. George Russell performed well enough with some overtakes, aside from a last-lap tussle that pushed Oscar Piastri (McLaren) out into the corner.

He took P7, two positions ahead of a frustrated Lewis Hamilton, who finished in P9.

While one Mercedes driver performed fairly well, the other didn't. PHOTO FROM FORMULA 1

During the early parts of the race, Lewis asked the team if he could “let George by” due to him having difficulty with the car’s ability to turn in (allegedly due to debris and damage from the Lap 1 crash).

In a post-race interview, he said: “The car is never what I hoped it would be.” Is it the car or the driver? We can only find out in the next few races.

Carlos Sainz showed the team a few reasons why they might have made the wrong decision for 2025. PHOTO FROM FORMULA 1

4. The Spanish driver is showing that Ferrari made the wrong decision for 2025. After that glorious 1-2 finish in Australia, many people were wondering if this was a fluke. But it looks like Carlos Sainz is on a mission to prove his team wrong after swapping him out for Hamilton for next year.

From a strong P4 qualifying, the Spaniard was on a two-stop strategy that gave him access to fresher tires later in the race, which allowed him to pull off several crucial overtakes.

It was a solid effort from Charles Leclerc to help bolster Ferrari's position in the constructor's championship. SCREENSHOT FROM FORMULA 1

Still, his teammate Charles Leclerc took home the “Driver of the Day” award for making a one-stopper strategy work.

He momentarily led the pack, but he dropped down to P3 due to a small error on Lap 25 that allowed Sergio Perez (Red Bull) to take his spot. Leclerc was down to P4 on Lap 46 (and finished there) as his teammate passed him on the straight for a P3 finish.

A strong finish for the Scuderia, which makes us wonder if Lewis is anxiously waiting for the year to end.

Death, taxes, and a Max Verstappen P1 finish are always certain. PHOTO FROM FORMULA 1

5. Red Bull is back on the podium. A trouble-free race for the most dominant car means that the top spot will always be Max Verstappen‘s.

Even with Leclerc briefly leading the race as Max pitted for new tires, that glimmer of hope was quickly erased as the Dutchman made easy work of the Monegasque’s Ferrari on the straight.

Will Sergio Perez be dropping off, or will he continue to keep his form for the rest of the season? SCREENSHOT FROM FORMULA 1

But it seems that someone has lit a fire under Sergio Perez during this race. He qualified P2 just as expected, but he was only 0.066 second behind the pole-sitter.

After a series of pit stops brought him down the pack, he fought his way back to his second-place finish with some overtakes against Hamilton, Lando Norris (McLaren), Leclerc, and Sainz.

The next race will be the Chinese Grand Prix on April 21 (3pm, Philippine standard time). It’s also the first Sprint Race of the year, so expect an action-packed race weekend.

Sam Surla

Sam is the youngest member of our editorial team. And he is our managing editor (believe it or not). He specializes in photography and videography, but he also happens to like writing about cars a lot.