Verstappen 'proud of everyone' as Red Bull seals title

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Max Verstappen was delighted to be the one to hand his Red Bull team another world championship, Red Bull's second in a row and sixth in total, after claiming victory in the Japanese Grand Prix.

Verstappen had claimed a dominant pole position in Saturday's qualifying and after holding off an initial threat from McLaren drivers Oscar Piastri and Lande Norris at the start, he was in a class of his own on Sunday.

Despite a retirement for team mate Sergio Perez, neither Ferrari nor Mercedes making it onto the podium means Red Bull's points advantage in the championship going into the remaining six races of the season is now unassailable.

Verstappen will have to wait until Qatar before getting an opportunity to clinch his own drivers championship, despite a 177 point lead over Perez in the current standings.

“It’s an unbelievable weekend,” Verstappen said when interviewed in parc ferme after the chequered flag. “To win here was great. I think the car was working really well on every compound.

“But of course, the most important was also to win the constructors [title]", he continued. "I’m very proud of everyone working at the track but also back at the factory. We’re having an incredible year."

1st place Max Verstappen (NLD) Red Bull Racing. 24.09.2023. Formula 1 World Championship, Rd 17, Japanese Grand Prix, Suzuka, Japan, Race Day. -, EMail: © Copyright: Batchelor / XPB Images

He identified the start as the one moment of concern today. “Only the start. Probably a bit too much wheel spin. But after that, it was quite a straightforward race luckily.”

That wasn't the case for Perez, who collided with Lewis Hamilton on the opening lap, was penalised for an infringement of safety car rules, and then had another collision this time with Kevin Magnussen before retiring.

“It was just a disastrous weekend,” Perez admitted. “It all started into turn 1 with a really bad start. I was squeezed and was just a passenger there, in a sandwich.

"I had Sainz on my right, Lewis on my left, and they just took out the whole front wing endplate," he explained. "I think we carried a lot of damage in the car as well and that just made it a lot harder for us.”

Although he retired on lap 12, he came back out again later in the race once this car was patched up in order to serve his penalty rather than have is carry over to the next race in Qatar although he was still given four penalty points.

Sergio Perez (MEX) Red Bull Racing. 24.09.2023. Formula 1 World Championship, Rd 17, Japanese Grand Prix, Suzuka, Japan, Race Day. -, EMail: © Copyright: Moy / XPB Images

Despite his personal disappointment, Perez was able to join in the celebrations at Red Bull and share the delight of clinching the title.

"It’s a very special day for the whole team, to finally clinch that constructors’ title," he said. "It’s been an incredible year. I’m really happy to contribute to [it].

"It would have been really nice to clinch the championship with a one-two finish," he added. "But anyway, it is what it is.”

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