Teams' reactions after the Japanese Grand Prix

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F1 Grand Prix, GP Japan, Circuit Suzukajp

Following a disappointing race in Melbourne, championship runaway leader Max Verstappen bounced back to clinch his third win of 2024, heading a dominant one-two for Red Bull in Suzuka. F1Technical's senior writer Balázs Szabó delivers teams' reactions after the Japanese Grand Prix.

Red Bull

Red Bull endured a difficult weekend last time out in Australia. Max Verstappen retired with brake problems while Sergio Perez suffered from a minor damage to his RB20 and graining on his front tyres. However, Japan saw Red Bull excel once again on a track that very much highlights the strengths of their car due to the long high-speed corners.

It was therefore no surprise to see Max Verstappen and Sergio Perez secure a dominant one-two in Suzuka to build up a margin to Ferrari in the Constructors' Championship. Demonstrating their superior pace around the Honda-owned track, it was Red Bull's third consecutive one-two in Suzuka in the last three years.

Max Verstappen, 1st
“Today was simply lovely and I really enjoyed the race. We stayed out of trouble in the first lap and from there, we tried to look after the tyres as much as possible. We made the right calls before we went into qualifying, which definitely helped today and it is very nice to come back and win after Australia.

"The car just got better throughout the race and, although it took a few laps before I got a nice rhythm as we didn’t have many practices on the long runs, on the second stint the car really came alive. I could push where I needed to and I could look after my tyres well, so the race went really nicely. It was a great Team result the whole weekend and brilliant to score a one two here: our third of the season. Suzuka is always a great track to go racing at and overall I am really happy about the performance today.”

Sergio Perez, 2nd

“It was a good day for the Team. We had good pace today, we just struggled with the degradation initially and didn’t get enough out of the medium due to the balance and track temperature. We suffered a little on the first stint, it compromised our race a little too much and with Lando pitting early. The second stint was better, but we had to get through a lot of traffic and that made our life a lot harder. On the hard we were back to our best, but things were a little out of sync by then.

"What is positive and an improvement is that when we have issues like on the first stint, we are able to solve them during the race, which is something we lacked last year. We are in a good place and performing at a very nice level, we just need to keep progressing. My confidence is coming back and the momentum should be with me for the coming races, if I am able to have such a consistent weekend in Suzuka it can only be positive moving forward.”


Ferrari continued the trend that it has set at the start of the season. The Scuderia appeared to struggle for one-lap pace on Saturday, but managed to massively raise its pace in the race on Sunday. Carlos Sainz executed a 'normal' two-stop strategy to beat Lando Norris for the third spot on the rostrum.

By contrast, his team-mate Charles Leclerc elected to complete the 53-lap Suzuka race with a one-stop strategy, becoming the only point-scoring driver to do so. Given the high degradation on the 5.8km track, it was not an easy task to master, but the Monegasque demonstrated once again how much Ferrari has managed to improve their tyre management which was their aching Achilles' heel last year.

Charles Leclerc, 4th
"Looking just at today’s race, I’m quite happy, because there is nothing that we could have done better. Our pace, tyre management, communication and strategy were all really good. However, what prevented us from getting a better overall result mostly comes down to our qualifying yesterday.

"Since Australia, we’ve had some difficulties putting the tyres in the right window on the out laps in qualifying, which is something we never struggled with before, so we really have to focus on that in the next few days to make sure we can put it all together in China."

Carlos Sainz, 3rd
"It was a good day for the whole team. We executed a very solid race and brought home a lot of points, maximising the potential of our package. A strong couple of starts kept me in a good position and from there onwards we managed it perfectly with very strong pace on both compounds and good overtakes to make the strategy work.

"We obviously want to fight a bit further up, but if we keep pushing like this, I’m sure we will have more opportunities. Now it’s back to the factory with the team and from tomorrow we’ll start preparing for China."


Visiting Japan this weekend, McLaren returned to the circuit on which they delivered one of their strongest performances last year. In qualifying, Lando Norris delivered a sensational lap to grab P3 on the grid, but he was unable to hold on to it with Ferrari drivers Carlos Sainz and Charles Leclerc massively picking up their pace in race trim.

His team-mate Oscar Piastri lacked pace all through the weekend and was involed in a fight with Fernando Alonso in the closing stages of the race. Altough he appeared to have more pace than the Spaniard, he was unable to go by, and was overtaken by Mercedes racer George Russell in the dying phases of the 53-lap race instead.

Lando Norris, 5th
"Tough race! We gave it a good try, but we just didn't have enough pace today, so trying to cover and stay ahead of the Ferraris was challenging. I think we still did a good job and maximised the points but starting third and finishing fifth is never the nicest thing to happen. It’s the maximum of what we could achieve today though, so I think we have to be happy with it as much as it doesn’t feel like a great result."

Oscar Piastri, 8th
"It was a difficult afternoon. Things didn’t quite click into place and we weren't fighting for the positions we wanted to. However, it's four points finishes on the bounce this year and there’s plenty to take away and try to learn from. We’ll go back to the factory and turn our attention to China where we’ll look to secure more valuable points for the team."

Aston Martin

Aston Martin brought a raft of crucial upgrades to Suzuka, including significant tweaks to the sidepod of the AMR24. Fernando Alonso made good use of the upgraded car to qualify himself fifth. In the race, Aston Martin appeared to be vulnerable due to the higher tyre degradation, but the two-time champion managed to keep the Mercedes of George Russell and Lewis Hamilton and the McLaren of Oscar Piastri behind to leave Japan with a sixth-place finish.

Lance Stroll lacked pace in qualifying which meant that he started the race from P16. The Canadian pursued an extremely aggressive strategy to become the only driver to use two sets of soft tyres during the race. Despite climbing up the order, the Montreal-born racer was not able to score any points in Round 4 of the season.

Fernando Alonso, 6th
“It was a great weekend for me with fifth position in Qualifying yesterday and sixth place in the race. It was one of my best for a while. I think we slightly outperformed our true position here this weekend, but we are executing our races very well this season and scoring good points for the team. Our plan for today worked well and a special thanks for the pitstops which were very impressive, so credit to all of the team for that. We still need to analyse our update package, so we’ll have a look at all our data from this weekend in Japan ahead of our return to Shanghai.”

Lance Stroll, 12th
“It was a difficult race today. Starting from P16 meant we had a compromised strategy and struggled to find any clean air. We also lacked the straight-line speed we needed. I did make some good overtakes at Turn 6 though, so that made for some fun racing. We were hoping to catch Yuki [Tsunoda] for P10, but the soft tyres just didn’t have the grip towards the end of the race, so it was disappointing not to finish in the points. We’ll take these learnings into China in a couple of weeks’ time.”


Mercedes looked relatively strong through the practice sessions and both drivers, particularly Lewis Hamilton sounded optimistic regarding the car's balance. However, they missed the crucial final tenths of a second in qualifying as Hamitlon and his team-mate George Russell qualified themselves only P7 and P9 respectively.

The team then elected to execute an ambitious strategy in the race. At the restart, both Hamilton and Russell opted to use the Hard compound with the decision seeing them lose a spot right after the second standing start. Having lacked pace during their first stint, they both delayed their first stop, but doing so they lost time when race leader Max Verstappen, Sergio Perez, Lando Norris and Carlos Sainz overtook them on fresh tyres.

Having picked up a minor damage, Hamilton struggled from horrible understeer which the team could improve with tweaks to the front wing during the pit stops. In the end, the Briton ended the race in P9 while Russell finished two places higher up to end another difficult weekend for Mercedes.

Lewis Hamilton, 9th
"It was a difficult day today. I did my best, but the result wasn’t a good one. Unfortunately, that is where our car is at the moment. I didn’t feel great on the Hard tyre and picked up a little bit of damage on the restart. I had lots of understeer, particularly during that first stint, which was why I decided to let George past. Once we put on the Medium compound, it started to feel a little better. The final stint was the first time in the race that I felt like I had good grip.

"We need to keep working hard as today, our pace was likely only good enough for P6. If we want to move up the grid, then we will need to add more performance to the car."

George Russell, 7th
"We moved forward today and that was positive. The plan to start on the Hard tyre after the red flag was to give us the flexibility to attempt either a one-stop or a two-stop. It was good to have this freedom and ultimately, we ended up on the two-stop strategy as the one stop wasn’t working. We had a challenging opening stint but after that first stop, our pace looked competitive to those ahead.

It was an exciting race towards the end. It’s always nice to be attacking rather than defending, and it was good, hard racing. There was some contact with Oscar, which was a racing incident, but I was glad to get the position in the end. It’s close between the four teams behind Red Bull and qualifying is going to be critical at each race. Whoever starts ahead will likely finish at the front of that pack. We know we’ve got work to do and we will keep pushing. Hopefully a track like the one in China will suit us better."


The Visa Cash RB team had a strong weekend in Suzuka. Yuki Tsunoda qualified himself P10, and managed to hang on to this position in his home race to become the first Japanese driver since 2012 to score points in Japan. The Sagamihara-born driver has had a very encouraging season so far, having finished in the points for the second time in 2024 and having earned promotion into Q3 for the third time in four qualifying sessions.

His team-mate Daniel Ricciardo had a much more difficult weekend. The Australian handed over his car to Ayumu Iwasa in Free Practice One, and was unable to complete any meaningful running in the second one-hour qualifying session due to the brief rain shower. However, he made the best of the final practice to only narrowly miss out on Q3. Despite his encouraging qualifying position, his race ended prematurely as he collided with Alexander Albon as the pair approach Turn 3.

Daniel Ricciardo, DNF
“After yesterday, where we made some steps in the right direction, I was really excited to come racing today to have a good day. In these cases, a Lap 1 incident is one of the worst things that could happen to a driver, especially as you don’t really have the chance to do anything after the massive build-up and energy used to be prepared for the race. It was a shame and an unfortunate one for all of us involved. It was a racing incident, and luckily, after some checks, both Alex and I are okay.

"The start of the race was really poor as Yuki and I were on medium tyres, and we were struggling so much compared to the other cars behind on the soft compound. In Turn 2, it settled a little bit, but I still felt like I was sliding and then saw an Aston on the outside of me. I was watching him but when I was preparing to enter Turn 3, without using all the track as it was the first lap, Albon got alongside me and had a better exit from Turn 2. I didn’t see him and we touched. This is racing sometimes and is part of it; not really anyone to blame, there was just a huge difference in terms of grip out of there. I’m sorry for the team, but China is soon, so we’ll focus on that.”

Yuki Tsunoda, 10th
“I’m feeling relieved. After I lost some positions on the first start, I felt a little disappointment for sure, but at the same time, I just focused on the second start. I had a good one and was able to make up a few positions. One of the big highlights was the pitstop. Our mechanics did a fantastic job, it was such a fast pitstop that allowed us to overtake two cars, and that’s insane! Without that, it would’ve been a lot more difficult to score points today, so the team deserves big credit. So do the Japanese fans, they are great! Obviously, finally being able to score points in front of my home fans, here and those who couldn’t make it to the track and watched it on TV, makes me a very happy guy.

"I felt confident today. I knew our straight-line speed isn’t that competitive compared to other cars but at the same time, we know we had a lot of downforce, and the only chance we had was through the esses, normally affected by downforce. It allowed me a couple good overtakes and I definitely enjoyed that. In terms of tyre management, I feel like my driving in today’s race was probably my best. I started my career here and to be able to score points here is extremely special. A big thank you to everyone at Honda, Red Bull and Visa Cash App RB who have been involved and supported me throughout my journey. I don’t feel like I scored P10 today but P1 – it’s a great feeling.”


Haas has had a quite weekend in Japan. The Suzuka track has been a real test for the American team as tyre degradation was a hot talking point this weekend, and that was the area Haas wanted to improve on for this year. Having shown signs of improvements with tyre degradation during the opening rounds, Nico Hulkenberg and Kevin Magnussen managed to look after the tyres much better than last year, albeit it was still not enough to score points.

Nico Hulkenberg, 11th
“I don’t think we could’ve got any higher than P10 probably, and Tsunoda was 50 seconds behind Hamilton, so I didn’t have that kind of pace. I had one good start and one really bad start – the car went into anti-stall. After that, I got my head down as I think the pace was pretty good for the midfield. I did a long stint on the hard at first, and a ‘splash and dash’ on the second set so that I could really show some pace. I take our race pace as a positive, it was better than what I expected before the race so that’s a relief and promising for China and going forwards.”

Kevin Magnussen, 13th
“At one point I was running inside the top 10 – I didn’t know what those around me were doing so I wasn’t sure if it was realistic or not – but I was trying. With the tires we had, the red flag effectively helped a few people and they were able to do a one-stop from hard to hard, where I had to do two stops from medium to hard, so that was tough. I had to pit quite early for the second stint on the hard tires, so it was a bit tricky. We’re there or thereabouts in the races again, so that’s encouraging and gives some hope for coming races that we can be in the hunt for points.”

Kick Sauber

Valtteri Bottas, 14th
“Our pace overall looked quite strong today, this is the positive we can definitely take out of this race: it should have allowed us to finish higher than we did today – which confirms the step forward we have made in terms of performance thanks to the upgrades we have been bringing recently and the work done to refine our understanding of our package. Unfortunately, our potential for points was scuppered when we suffered the traffic at our second stop: we stopped with a group of other cars, it was not the easiest stop and, once I made it back out on track, I ended up being stuck behind Kevin [Magnussen] for most of the final laps.

"I am definitely disappointed, as we could have easily achieved more today, and scored our first points of the season. Still, our race pace looked promising, and there is progress made both on and off the track. We can hope for a stronger performance in Shanghai: our priority remains getting more consistent execution across the whole board, and fight for points in what is an extremely tight pack. I am excited to be going back to China after a few years, and it’ll of course be a big one for us as a team and for Zhou – hopefully, we’ll be able to be back in the fight and put up a decent show and some points.”

Zhou Guanyu, DNF
“It has been a difficult weekend for me: unfortunately, we encountered some smaller issues over the weekend, from the reduced run time in FP3, that ultimately impacted my qualifying, to a DNF in a race where I had the pace to make up some positions. I had a good start and first laps of the race, before we noticed that we might have some technical problems and being informed to retire the car.

"While this is definitely not the start of the year that I hoped for, we keep working hard as we know things will improve: our overall pace looked good, and my focus now is on the preparation for my first home Grand Prix. With the team trackside and back at the factory, we’ll investigate our issues and work on them to be in a better position, so I’ll be fighting for points at home in China – in Saturday’s Sprint Race as well as the Race on Sunday.”


Alex Albon, DNF
"I didn’t have a great start but being on the Hard tyres, I had good traction coming up into Turn 2, but I don’t think Daniel [Ricciardo] saw me and it was a bit of a pinching moment… I tried to back out of it but I couldn’t quite get out of the way quick enough. It’s a tough one to take, so all in all a very frustrating and disappointing weekend. It wasn’t a big crash but the way I hit the tyre wall, the car gripped and went under it, and I came to a hard stop really fast and aggressively, so that won’t help with the damage to the car. Looking ahead, we’ll assess the damage and get the car ready in time for China."

Logan Sargeant, 17th
"After that second stop, I was pushing as hard as I could to catch the group ahead and make something happen. I bottomed on the exit kerb, locked up and went straight. That moment was disappointing but leading up to it there were some positives. We had a bold strategy trying to do the Hard, Hard race which I think would’ve worked. Of course, the lap we try to pit everyone pits and instead of jumping four cars, we got jumped by four cars which can make or break a race. Had that gone to plan, the race would’ve played out very differently.

"Nonetheless, we tried to adapt to the situation by boxing again. We still could’ve had a decent result, but I made that little mistake."


Alpine has another difficult race weekend following their difficult start to the 2024 F1 season. Esteban Ocon delivered encouraging performance to get himself into the second qualifying segment, but he was unable to keep up with Alpine's direct rivals. His team-mate Pierre Gasly was delighted with the getaway at the start and the restart, but he also lacked race pace. Both driver complained about damage to their car, but they conceded that it did not completely change the overall picture.

Esteban Ocon, 15th

“It was not an easy race today. We picked up some damage at the start, and after that we tried some different strategy options to give us a fighting chance. But, ultimately, we were not quick enough today to compete with those around us and keep them behind after the restart. It was unfortunate to pick up damage, however, I do not think it made a huge difference to the overall picture of the race. We struggled with race pace compared to Qualifying, so we have a lot to review and hopefully we can come back stronger at the next race in Shanghai.”

Pierre Gasly, 16th

“Unfortunately, it’s been a long afternoon for us in Suzuka. There are some positives, including having two very strong standing starts. At the second one, after the red flag, I overtook the Haas, then Esteban and then got myself alongside Yuki [Tsunoda]. At that point, I was sandwiched between both in an unfortunate racing incident. It meant I had significant damage to the floor – costing around 30 points of downforce – and therefore lap time as a result of the damage.

"From then, it was a very difficult race, there was not much we could do other than push as hard as possible. It’s not where we want to be, but it’s good that we brought the first upgrades to the car this weekend. We have to keep developing the concept, keep bringing parts as soon as possible as we need it in order to improve our current position.”