Foreign media give high marks with a critical note: ‘Verstappen was never completely safe’

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Foreign media give high marks with a critical note: 'Verstappen was never completely safe'

Max Verstappen took pole position, victory, and the fastest lap. The fact that he missed out on the maximum score in most foreign media says a lot about the show of power in recent years. There were mainly positive reports from Germany and Italy about the Dutchman, but in Great Britain some critical notes were placed on Verstappen’s performance.

La Gazzetta dello Sport (Italy) – 9

After Australia, there was hope in Italy that the championship could still become interesting, but Verstappen quickly put an end to that hopeful thought among the challengers in Japan. ‘The fourth pole position in four Grand Prix weekends laid the foundation for another lonely escape at the front of the field. He was perfect on both starts, had solid race pace, and was supported by an excellent Red Bull, which forms a great marriage with Suzuka,” La Gazzetta dello Sport reports.

In Italy one could only conclude that Verstappen is firmly in control again after an exhibition in Japan. ‘The gap to teammate Sergio Pérez actually says it all. If his car has no problems, no one can stop Verstappen.’ Verstappen was rewarded with a 9, which gave him the highest grade of everyone. Both Ferrari drivers received an 8, while Sergio Pérez had to settle for a 7. Yuki Tsunoda surprisingly got stuck at a 6, while Lewis Hamilton only got a 5.

The Race (Great Britain) – 2nd place

Journalist Edd Straw from The Race does not hand out grades to the drivers, but ranks them from best to worst. The British journalist put Verstappen in second place, behind Fernando Alonso. The Spaniard called the weekend in Japan one of the best five performances of his career, and Straw was also impressed with how he kept Oscar Piastri and George Russell behind in the closing stages.

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Verstappen himself could also count on compliments. ‘Verstappen was surprisingly followed in qualifying by Sergio Pérez, taking pole position with a lead of just 0.066 seconds. He set two lap times that were good enough for the first place on the grid,” says Straw. ‘He was really at a completely different level in the race than the rest. He celebrated both starts well to control the race from start to finish, despite some concerns about his race pace after the training sessions. Qualifying wasn’t perfect, but he was superior in the race,” concluded Straw, who gave Yuki Tsunoda the final podium spot.

Auto Motor und Sport (Germany) – 10

‘Verstappen was otherworldly again, but Yuki Tsunoda earned the same grade as Sergio Pérez, Carlos Sainz, and Fernando Alonso. The Japanese are getting better and better,” Schmidt notes at the German Auto Motor und Sport. The journalist therefore gave Verstappen a 10, while the other four gentlemen were treated to a 9. ‘Verstappen had another one of his perfect weekends. Verstappen’s 57th Grand Prix victory was never in danger. He didn’t lead the race for just five laps.’

Yet Verstappen started in Japan less dominantly than six months earlier, when the race in Suzuka was on the 2023 calendar. ‘He had to fight for it in qualifying. Pérez was only 0.066 seconds short, less than ever before. However, during the race the difference between the two Red Bull drivers continued to widen. After 53 laps the difference was 12.5 seconds. Verstappen once again showed excellent tire management, which is why the world champion gets the top grade, and Pérez only a 9.’

Schmidt also reflected on the other drivers with high marks. ‘Sainz qualified better and defeated Charles Leclerc again, in qualifying and the race. Alonso made teammate Lance Stroll look like a schoolboy. Yuki Tsunoda was one of the stars of the Grand Prix. The fans cheered him as if he had won the race. That was true in a sense, because he was the strongest in Formula 1B,” Schmidt points out the difference between the first and the last five teams.

Motorsport (Great Britain) – 9

Autosport rewarded Verstappen’s performance with a 9. The only other driver with that high score was Tsunoda. “This was not the Dutchman’s most memorable victory: he looked confident, but was never completely safe,” is the striking conclusion after Verstappen’s show of power. ‘He got through both starts well, maintaining the lead at a consistent pace, but held back a bit and let the strategy do the work. The margin over Pérez was not as big as the times he received a 10, and he lost time in qualifying, is the explanation for missing out on the top score.

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