Oscar Piastri grabs maiden podium as Max Verstappen wins Japanese GP at Suzuka

Oscar Piastri became the latest Australian on an F1 podium when third in the Japanese Grand Prix.

Oscar Piastri became the latest Australian on an F1 podium when third in the Japanese Grand Prix. Photo: Getty

Oscar Piastri became the first Australian on a Formula One podium since 2021 and the first rookie since 2017 with a superb third place in the Japanese Grand Prix as Max Verstappen’s victory secured Red Bull another constructors’ title.

After qualifying second behind Verstappen, the 22-year-old Piastri drove a scintillating race on Sunday to become the first rookie since Lance Stroll in 2017 to finish top three.

Verstappen finished 19.4 seconds ahead of Lando Norris, with his McLaren teammate Piastri a further 17 seconds away in becoming the first Australian on a podium since Daniel Ricciardo won at Monza two years ago.

“It feels pretty special definitely,” Piastri said.

“I will remember it for a very, very long time. There are not many people who get this opportunity in their whole life and I’ve managed to have it in my first season.”

Runaway series leader Verstappen returned to dominant form with a win that moved him a step closer to his third consecutive drivers’ championship.

The 25-year-old, who missed out on the podium a week ago in Singapore, held on for his 13th win of the season to secure Red Bull its sixth constructors’ title and second in a row.

Verstappen increased his lead over Red Bull teammate Sergio Perez to 177 points. He could wrap up his third consecutive title at next month’s Qatar Grand Prix.

“What an unbelievable season we are having,” Verstappen said via team radio.

“You can all be very proud here at the track and back at the factory. You guys built a rocketship of a car.”

He later added: “To win here was great. The car worked really well on every compound. The most important thing was to win the constructors. I had too much wheelspin at the start but after that it was a very straightforward race.”

Team principal Christian Horner said: “It’s been the most amazing race for us and most amazing year. It’s a testament to these guys – all the men and women back in the factory at Milton Keynes.

“To Red Bull and all our partners, it’s a collection of an incredible effort of everyone doing their bit to achieve results like we have done and Max is on just another level at the moment.”

It was a disastrous day for Perez, who was given a penalty for hitting Haas driver Kevin Magnussen and retired from the race after serving the penalty.

After Verstappen’s record 10-race winning streak ended in Singapore, the Dutchman came to Japan determined to get back on top of the podium. Prior to Sunday’s race, he led every session at the fast Suzuka circuit, where he wrapped up last year’s championship in a rain-shortened race.

Conditions on Sunday were ideal and Verstappen took full advantage.

The race got off to a thrilling start with Verstappen, Piastri and Norris going wheel-to-wheel but the Red Bull driver held his lead through the first two turns.

The safety car came out on the first lap when Alfa Romeo driver Valtteri Bottas made contact with another car resulting in debris on the track.

Verstappen was able to quickly retake the lead after his first pit stop and was never seriously challenged.

Ferrari driver Charles Leclerc was fourth followed by Mercedes’ Lewis Hamilton.

-with AP

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