Max Verstappen returned to winning ways to head a resounding Red Bull one-two in a Japanese GP that was restarted following a big first-lap crash involving Daniel Ricciardo and Alex Albon.

A fortnight after suffering a shock first race retirement in two years in Australia in a race won by Ferrari’s Carlos Sainz, Verstappen hit back in dominant style at Suzuka with the world champion beating team-mate Sergio Perez by 12 seconds.

Verstappen had to navigate two starts on the grid from pole position after the race was red-flagged on the first lap after RB’s Ricciardo tangled with Williams’ Albon and both spun off into a heavy impact with the barriers.

After a 30-minute delay while the stricken cars were cleared away and the barrier repaired, Verstappen again held the race lead from Perez and set off into the lead in a race dominated by differing tyre strategies through the top 10.

Sainz took third to maintain his 100 per cent podium-finishing record in 2024, although had to overtake Charles Leclerc for the position late on to do so after his Ferrari team-mate impressed on an unconventional one-stop strategy after a poor qualifying had left him eighth on the grid.

Lando Norris was leapfrogged by both Ferraris through the race and ended up fifth, with Fernando Alonso sixth after a successful rearguard action in the closing stages from apparently faster cars behind.

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Lando Norris makes an impressive overtake on George Russell at the Japanese Grand Prix

That was initially against McLaren’s Oscar Piastri but the Australian was overtaken on the final lap by Mercedes’ George Russell. However, the Briton is under investigation for forcing Piastri off track at the chicane several laps before.

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George Russell and Oscar Piastri end up touching as the pair are involved in a brilliant battle at the Japanese Grand Prix

Lewis Hamilton, who had earlier let Russell through on his own accord during the first stint as the Mercedes initially pursued a one-stop strategy, was ninth.

And Yuki Tsunoda gave the passionate Japanese crowd reason to cheer by taking the final point in 10th.

What happened in the Ricciardo-Albon collision?

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The drivers were quick to show their concern after Daniel Ricciardo and Alex Albon collided on the opening lap of the Japanese GP

Ricciardo and Albon tangled on the approach to Turn Three as the pack snaked through Suzuka’s iconic Esses for the first time.

Being challenged by Aston Martin’s Lance Stroll on the inside and Albon on the outside as they approached the left-hander, Ricciardo came across to the right to take the usual racing line, but the RB’s right-rear tyre tagged the Williams’ left-front and the contact sent both cars off track and into the barriers.

“I think Ricciardo reacts to Stroll on his left-hand side,” said Sky Sports F1’s Anthony Davidson. “That’s unfortunate. It wasn’t Albon’s fault and it wasn’t Ricciardo’s.

“Ricciardo is going for the racing line and three into one doesn’t really go. It’s a racing incident and wrong place, wrong time for Albon.”

More to follow…

Next up is the return of the Chinese Grand Prix on April 19-21, which is also the first Sprint weekend of the season. Watch every session live on Sky Sports F1 and steam every F1 race and more with a NOW Sports Month Membership – No contract, cancel anytime

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