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Verstappen wins Japanese GP, Red Bull clinch title


SUZUKA - Max Verstappen helped Red Bull clinch the Formula One constructors' championship and took a giant step towards his third straight drivers' title by winning the Japanese Grand Prix on Sunday.

Runaway championship leader Verstappen finished ahead of McLaren pair Lando Norris and Oscar Piastri and can lift the title at next month's Qatar Grand Prix.

Verstappen's win helped Red Bull clinch their second straight constructors' title even though teammate Sergio Perez retired from the race.

"You have built a rocket ship of a car," he told his team over the radio after crossing the line.

Nearest challengers Mercedes were unable to stay in contention, with Lewis Hamilton finishing fifth and George Russell placing seventh.

Ferrari's Charles Leclerc was fourth, while teammate Carlos Sainz was sixth.

Verstappen was back to his breathtaking best after a disappointing fifth-place finish at last week's Singapore Grand Prix.

He held off a double challenge from McLaren to take the lead ahead off Norris at the first turn.

First the Dutchman veered right to squeeze out Piastri, who was starting from second on the grid, then moved left to stop Norris from darting through the gap.

The safety car came out soon after, with Alfa Romeo's Valtteri Bottas and Zhou Guanyu taking damage at the start of the race.

Perez got into trouble when he picked up a five-second penalty for a safety car infringement.

The Mexican retired from the race a few laps later, telling his team "the car doesn't feel right".

He later came back out, ensuring that he would not have to serve his time penalty at the next race.

Russell and Hamilton tried to chase Leclerc but Sainz got himself in the mix by going past Russell late on.

Bottas, Aston Martin's Lance Stroll and Williams pair Alex Albon and Logan Sargeant failed to finish the race.



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