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Bottas wins last Japanese GP, Leclerc bowls Verstappen out of race

Bottas wins last Japanese GP, Leclerc bowls Verstappen out of race

4 October - 08:35
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GPblog.com

The 2019 Japanese Grand Prix was held for the last time with Valtteri Bottas as the eventual winner. It was a frustrating afternoon for Lewis Hamilton and especially for Max Verstappen.

Ferrari's engine

Due to the coronavirus, the Japanese Grand Prix was not run in 2020 and 2021, so we have to go back to 2019 for the last edition of the event. Another period for Formula 1 in which Ferrari still dominated over one lap at the Suzuka Circuit. The familiar engine had been dialled back slightly by now, but on Saturday Sebastian Vettel and Charles Leclerc were still remarkably fast.

During qualifying at Suzuka, it was Sebastian Vettel who took his last pole position (for now). He beat his teammate by a nice margin of almost two-tenths. On the second row of the grid started the two Mercedes, with the Red Bulls of Verstappen and Alexander Albon behind them again.

The start was a drama for Ferrari. Both cars got off badly and Bottas had a world-class start. The Finn shot past Ferrari's two men and soon disappeared on the horizon. Lewis Hamilton overtook Leclerc but was stuck behind Vettel throughout the race. He, therefore, expressed considerable dissatisfaction over the board radio as his teammate drove towards victory.

Verstappen thrown out

Behind the trio, things went wrong for Verstappen. Leclerc's lousy start allowed even Verstappen to get a look in at the first corner. The Dutchman tried the outside but was hit by Leclerc who came out too far with understeer. For Verstappen, this meant the race was well and truly over. After 15 laps, the damage to his car proved too great to continue driving competitively.

Leclerc did drive on, but had a lot of damage to his car. He continued to drive with this and a large piece of his front wing flew dangerously off his car and landed on Hamilton's car. Leclerc received a 10-second penalty for this, having already received a five-second penalty for the incident with Verstappen. Leclerc still finished the race in sixth place.

Bottas, Vettel and Hamilton took to the podium. For Bottas, it was his first victory since Baku, after which 12 races had already been completed. The Finn, whose seat was under pressure, could make good use of the result. Vettel held off an onrushing and exasperated Hamilton to finish second. Albon finished just off the podium in fourth place.

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