Verstappen comes up short but happy with runner-up spot

The Japanese Grand Prix saw Max Verstappen once again in the running as the Red Bull Racing driver collected a well-deserved second-place finish in Suzuka.

Verstappen was incisive at the outset, getting the measure of team mate Daniel Ricciardo on the run through Turn 1 at the start and then passing a troubled Sebastian Vettel.

While the Dutchman remained in close contact with leader Lewis Hamilton, he just missed the speed necessary to mount a proper attack.

Verstappen closed the gap dramatically however on the Mercedes driver in the closing stages of the races as Hamilton’s pace suddenly slowed, but in the end the runner-up came up just a bit short.

  • Hamilton clinches win in Suzuka after early exit for Vettel

“It was great day again, I think Suzuka is great to me, I already loved the track last year,” said Max on the podium.

“I think the pace today was really promising. The first stint on the supersoft, I was struggling a bit with the left front but as soon as we switched to the soft tyre it was actually very competitive.

“I was always with Lewis, especially in the last few laps. We had great pace, it was just really hard to pass.

“I could see Lewis managing his tyres and, with traffic, it seemed difficult for him to follow other cars compared to me.

“When you close up, you lose a lot of downforce. I couldn’t really attack him, but I tried.”

Verstappen was also cautious about going flat out in the closing laps because of a front tyre worn right down to the canvas.

He asked on the radio if he was “allowed to give it everything”, to which the team responded with the affirmative.

“The last two, three laps I gave it all to try and close the gap,” he added.

“We had a really good day again, the car is definitely improving race by race, so I’m really happy about that.”

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