At the beginning of the 2023 Formula 1 Japanese Grand Prix at Suzuka, there was just a sliver of hope that, for the second week in a row, someone other than Max Verstappen could win. The Red Bull driver started from pole position but saw immediate pressure from two McLaren drivers, Lando Norris and Oscar Piastri, who were breathing down his neck from the moment the lights went out. However, as valiant as McLaren's efforts were, Verstappen not only still stood atop the winner's podium but he also clinched Red Bull's 2023 constructor's championship win.
After Verstappen's win in Suzuka, Red Bull has 623 points as a team, which is so much more than the second-place Mercedes (305 points) that there's no chance of catching up. So Red Bull is the 2023 Formula 1 constructor's champion and there are still six races left in the season. It's Red Bull's sixth championship win and it comes in perhaps the team's most dominant season.
Thankfully, McLaren at least made the race interesting by finishing with a two-three finish on the podium. For the fourth time this season, Lando Norris took home second place but the big news is his teammate snagging his first-ever podium finish. Oscar Piastri raced his heart out in Japan, even leading the race for a blink at the beginning, and it payed off with a third-place finish for the rookie.
As for the usual gang of drivers from Ferrari and Mercedes that try to challenge Verstappen every week, they were mostly fighting for fourth, fifth, and sixth place, as the McLaren duo did a great job of holding them off all race. However, it was Verstappen's race yet again. After last week's race in Singapore, in which Ferrari's Carlos Sainz won as both Red Bull cars struggled, there was some hope that we might see more drivers atop the podium. However, the Dutchman returned to his usual dominance in Japan. At one point, he even set the fastest lap while expanding on his 15-second lead over the second place Norris.
Now that Red Bull has the constructor's title locked up, Verstappen will be looking to clinch the driver's title well before the end of the season, which he can potentially do with a win in Qatar in two weeks.
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