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Other SportsJapanese Grand Prix 2024: Verstappen says Red Bull win 'couldn't have been...

Japanese Grand Prix 2024: Verstappen says Red Bull win ‘couldn’t have been better’

Max Verstappen has said his Red Bull became “better and better” during his Japanese Grand Prix 2024 win and described his retirement from the preceding race in Melbourne as “a little hiccup”.

Reigning champion Verstappen left a race early for the first time since 2022 because of a brakes issue at the Australian Grand Prix but took his third victory from the first four races of the season at Suzuka, beating second-placed team-mate Sergio Perez by more than 12 seconds.

“It maybe had to do with the clouds coming in but it was very nice,” said Verstappen, calling the fans at the track “great” while adding that it was “fantastic” to prevail at the home of Honda.

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“Everything went really well: the pit-stops went well, strategy. It couldn’t have been any better.

“It was very nice… the car got better and better for me throughout the race. It was a little hiccup in the last race but I’m very happy that we are here back on top.”

Verstappen is 13 points ahead of Perez and 18 above Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc in the standings after a race which was delayed for 30 minutes by a crash between Alex Albon and Daniel Ricciardo on the first lap.

“Doing the restart, it’s always hard to keep focus for such a long period of time,” said Perez.

“My second start was a little bit better – just not enough to get Max. I had to push so much on the medium stint, but on the hard stint I was a bit more comfortable.

“We are in a good momentum. [Not finishing] last year here was probably my worst weekend. If we are strong in places like this, we can be strong anywhere. It’s been a good weekend.”

Chinese Grand Prix 2024 ‘interesting’

The first sprint of the year now awaits at the Chinese Grand Prix in Shanghai from April 19-21, when Formula One will return to China for the first time since 2019 because of the Covid pandemic.

“It’s going to be quite hectic anyway with the sprint weekend,” predicted Verstappen. “But then, of course, we haven’t been there for a while.

“We will only have one practice session to really get into it again. I think it will be quite interesting.”

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