Japanese GP: Preview

Published on 22 September 2023 at 00:00

Formula 1 heads to Suzuka for the second consecutive Asian race after last weekend's Singapore Grand Prix. Will Red Bull be able to bounce back? Will Ferrari be able to maintain their impressive momentum?


Verstappen and Red Bull will be looking to bounce back (Image Credit: Mark Thompson/Getty Images)


Can Red Bull bounce back?


Red Bull went into last weekend's Singapore Grand Prix winning 100% of the races in 2023, dominating every race. However, things would change at the Marina Bay Circuit as the Austrian team struggled finding the right set up for the RB19, leading to them losing their 100% win record in 2023.


Max Verstappen also went into the Singapore Grand Prix on a high, winning 10 consecutive races. However, that streak would also be ended as the Dutchman finished fifth, as Ferrari driver Carlos Sainz won the race.


The Marina Bay Circuit has appeared as an 'anomaly' on the calendar due to its rough street track nature. This forced Red Bull to raise their ride height, losing lots of performance in downforce.


However, going to a more traditional circuit in Suzuka, rival teams are confident that Red Bull will bounce back strongly. The Austrian team will be able to perfect the set up for the weekend.


With the first two practice sessions already happening on Friday, it was Verstappen who comfortably topped both sessions, confirming that the Austrian team had gone back to normality.


Can Ferrari maintain their momentum?


The 2023 season has not been a memorable one for the Scuderia. Comparing to last season, the Maranello team has significantly underachieved, providing a car that had been good in qualifying, but bad in the races due to poor tyre wear.


However, since after the summer break, Ferrari has stepped it up. Their driver Carlos Sainz has also stepped it up, achieving back-to-back pole positions in Monza and Singapore. The Spaniard also managed to win the last race in Singapore.


The Scuderia has been applying upgrades to its SF-23, which has seemed to be working efficiently. The Maranello team are expected to be the second-quickest team in Suzuka, potentially challenging for second behind Verstappen as Sergio Perez continues to struggle in the RB19.


During the first two practice sessions, both Ferrari drivers managed to achieve top four finishes, confirming that they have strong pace at a high-downforce circuit.


My Predictions


I think that Red Bull will have a dominant weekend, after seeing the first two practice sessions. Verstappen's set up seems nailed, which should be a convincing win for the Dutchman by the chequered flag on Sunday.


Race Winner - Max Verstappen

Podium - Carlos Sainz and Lando Norris

Pole Position - Max Verstappen

Darkhorse - Yuki Tsunoda

Disappointment - Sergio Perez


Nathan Hartley

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