Photo: Getty Images/Red Bull Content Pool

Verstappen Defends Late Race Move Against Hamilton in Japanese GP

By Joey Barnes, Editor-in-Chief

Max Verstappen secured his sixth podium finish of the season after finishing second in the Japanese Grand Prix, but came under the scrutiny after a controversial defensive move on Lewis Hamilton in the closing stages of the race.

Verstappen led the three-time Formula 1 World Champion as they exited 130R, Hamilton began to surge and showed enough pace to pull alongside the Red Bull at the chicane but Verstappen closed the door under braking, forcing the Mercedes off the track and down the escape road.

“I saw him coming in my mirrors,” Verstappen said. “Already on the laps before he was closing in quite a bit there. I saw already out of Turn 14 that he had a good exit so I was using a bit of energy and defended into the last chicane.

“I know he’s fighting for the world championship so you’re not going to do crazy things, of course, but I think in the end it was all good.”

The 19-year-old Dutchman finished a surprising 28.963 seconds ahead of Red Bull Racing teammate Daniel Ricciardo, whom ended the afternoon at Suzuka sixth, and also progressed to fifth in the Drivers’ Championship, tied with Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel.

Verstappen was pleased with his overall with both the car and the strategy, noting the focus was on tire management.

“The car was feeling quite good, I was trying to follow Nico (Rosberg) a bit and I think in general we did a great strategy so the car was working well,” said Verstappen.

“I managed to keep my tires alive and to come home in second. Of course that’s also a great result for myself and I think also one of my best races so far, but also for the team and the constructors’ it was a very good result.”

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Joey Barnes is the Founder of Motorsports Tribune. He has covered auto racing since 2013 that has spanned from Formula 1 to NASCAR, with coverage on IndyCar. Additionally, his work has appeared on Racer, and Autoweek magazine. In 2017, he was recognized with an award in Spot News Writing by the National Motorsports Press Association.

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