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Max drops out in Japan after hit by Leclerc: 'Was hit full in the flank'

Published on 13 October 2019 by Mike Motilall

Max Verstappen didn’t make it to the chequered flag at the Japanese Grand Prix. Max got well off the line from the fifth spot, but after a severe hit from Charles Leclerc in Turn two, Verstappen drops back to the back of the field while his RB15 suffers major damage. On lap fifteen, Aston Martin Red Bull Racing decides to call in the Dutchman, which means that this is the second time this season that that Max has dropped out. Valtteri Bottas crossed the line very convincingly while Vettel finished  second second with immediately behind him Lewis Hamilton in P3.

Max discusses the race after he gets out of his car: “I had a very good start. I think the best of the season. It all went right, only, I was hit full in the flank by Leclerc. Very stupid, because I left enough space on the inside. I was actually already ahead of him and you know that you understeer at that point very easily. You just don’t turn in full on the limits then. He just flanked me and I had a lot of damage after that. My bargeboard was just hanging on and my whole car had been slid open. It served no point in continuing on and that’s why we parked the car in the pitbox.”

Race control will take a look after the race whether Leclerc needs to get a penalty. Verstappen is however not impressed by this: “I just don’t get it that this will be looked at after the race. This has to be a penalty right away.” The weekend on Honda’s home track consequently ends on a very bad note: “It’s not our fault, so that takes some pain away. It’s only very frustrating, because we had a very good chance to get on the podium. It’s only very ridiculous that these things happen without someone getting a penalty”, Max concludes disappointingly.   

After qualifying Sunday morning, Max finished fifth fastest. The race gets underway in sunny conditions. Both Ferraris get off the line very poorly on the front row. This enables Bottas, who started third, to immediately take the lead. Max gets well off the line and is side-by-side with Charles Leclerc in Turn one. However, the Monegasque hits Verstappen causing the Dutchman to slip off track and drop back all the way to last. Leclerc in turn has damaged his front wing and is forced to go see his team for a new nose after several laps. The Ferrari-driver drops back behind of Verstappen after his stop.

On lap four, Alexander Albon tries to get by Lando Norris at the chicane for the fifth spot. The two of them come into contact and Norris is left hung out to dry. The young Briton has to pit and is also sent to the back of the field after that. Albon is able to continue on without issues.

Max is passed by Leclerc on lap nine for the sixteenth spot. Verstappen, visibly damaged by the contact he had with Leclerc, complains on the radio to his team about balance issues he has under braking. Max fails to slot in with the guys ahead of him and on lap fifteen he calls it quits and parks his RB15 in the Red Bull garage. This makes him the first drop out of the race.

During the race, Sebastian Vettel and Lewis Hamilton have a nice fight for the second spot. On the final lap, Sergio Perez crashes at Turn two after coming into contact with Pierre Gasly. The Mexican walks away unscathed and even gets lucky as the race is flagged off one lap too early. This puts him ninth fastest. At the front, Valtteri Bottas grabs his third win of the season. Vettel barely manages to cross the line ahead of Hamilton and is second. Albon finishes fourth, his best result so far in his still budding Formula 1-career. Carlos Sains is fifth for McLaren, while Charles Leclerc crosses the line in sixth. Given this result, Mercedes take home the constructors’ title for the sixth time in a row this year.

Results Grand Prix Japan:

1Valtteri BottasBOTMercedes521:21:46.75525
2Sebastian VettelVETFerrari52+13.343s18
3Lewis HamiltonHAMMercedes52+13.858s16
4Alexander AlbonALBRed Bull Racing Honda52+59.537s12
5Carlos SainzSAIMcLaren Renault52+69.101s10
6Charles LeclercLECFerrari51+1 lap8
7Pierre GaslyGASScuderia Toro Rosso Honda51+1 lap6
8Sergio PerezPERRacing Point BWT Mercedes51+1 lap4
9Lance StrollSTRRacing Point BWT Mercedes51+1 lap2
10Daniil KvyatKVYScuderia Toro Rosso Honda51+1 lap1
11Lando NorrisNORMcLaren Renault51+1 lap0
12Kimi RäikkönenRAIAlfa Romeo Racing Ferrari51+1 lap0
13Romain GrosjeanGROHaas Ferrari51+1 lap0
14Antonio GiovinazziGIOAlfa Romeo Racing Ferrari51+1 lap0
15Kevin MagnussenMAGHaas Ferrari51+1 lap0
16George RussellRUSWilliams Mercedes50+2 laps0
17Robert KubicaKUBWilliams Mercedes50+2 laps0
0Daniel RicciardoRICRenault51+1 lap0
0Nico HulkenbergHULRenault51+1 lap0
0Max VerstappenVERRed Bull Racing Honda14DNF0