We have left the first fifth of the championship behind and the forces in the field are emerging. Red Bull confirmed it is in command, and unapproachable at the present time. Behind it, Ferrari consolidates second place ahead of McLaren and Mercedes which, at the present time is the “big” most in difficulty at the moment.

They must certainly roll up their sleeves because even today both Russell and Hamilton suffered. Compared to the seven times world champion, Russell manages to make better use of his car. However, it must be considered that the most important developmental steps will be introduced by the Teams only from Imola. It will be interesting following the weekend at the Enzo and Dino Ferrari Circuit starting from Friday.

After the debacle in Melbourne, Verstappen and Red Bull came back ahead of everyone, showing all their worth (even if it was never in doubt). In the 51st lap Verstappen also set the fastest lap of the race,

However, a consideration must be made.

Last year the Japanese GP was held in the month of September as the sixteenth round of the world championship. Barely six months later it is incredible to see the developments and the improvements made by all the teams:

In addition to having made the fourth pole of the season, he improved his time by almost seven tenths of a second compared to 2023 (1.28.197 against 1.28.877);

Carlos Sainz (fourth in qualifying) went from his best time in 2023 of 1.29.850 (Charles Leclerc had set 1.29.542) to 1.28.672.

Therefore, Ferrari improves in both qualifying and above all in the long run, managing to halve the gap, even if it is still not enough to worry the leader. Precisely Leclerc built his comeback by managing the tyres very well covering 27 laps with the “yellows” before passing onto the hard “whites”. He went well beyond the window indicated at the start by Pirelli. Once again Sainz demonstrated his quality: with the same car, he is second to none.

We are watching a demanding world championship in which the slightest slip is enough to end up in the rear. On a major track such as Suzuka we saw qualifying with eight cars enclosed within 7 tenths of a second (between Perez – second – and Leclerc eighth there were barely 532 thousandths of a second) and a very technical and tactical race certainly conditioned by the red flag.

In the final laps of the GP Oscar Piastri and George Russell made themselves the protagonists of a fight for seventh position (which ended with the advantage of the Mercedes driver) with Russell finishing in the sights of the marshals. The British driver was certainly aggressive in a point of the track where two cars do not pass, but he was right to try and it was correct not proceeding with a penalty.

Having said goodbye to Japan, the next round will be in China, Shanghai on April 21st, which returns to the calendar after 5 years and hosting the first Spraint-race. The last appearance dates back to 2019.

Gian Carlo Minardi