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Sainz again in front of Leclerc: “The podium? The hard tires helped me.”

“I struggled in the second stint, so I didn't know if I'd be able to catch up with Norris and Leclerc.” Perez: “I'm having a good time. A second place here is encouraging for the future.” Verstappen: “Better than this, is impossible.”

Auto - News: Sainz again in front of Leclerc: “The podium? The hard tires helped me.”

Max Verstappen’s win at Suzuka is no surprise. The Red Bull’s Dutch rider remains the number one candidate for the title, thanks to the competitiveness of his RB20, but also thanks to his degree of confidence when he’s at the wheel. And, barring unforeseen events, it seems unlikely that someone will be able to threaten him.

At the start, I managed to maintain control and, from there, the car increasingly grew,” he said at the end of the race. Everything worked well, between strategy and stops. It couldn’t have gone any better. We had a hiccup in Australia, but we’ve made a comeback. It’s great to have won with Honda. The race in Shanghai? It’ll be busy as always, when there’s a sprint race. Not to mention that we haven't been on that track for a while. It’ll be interesting.”

Satisfied with a second place, Sergio Perez warned his rivals, looking to the immediate future. “It was a good weekend for the team. Redoing the starting procedure is never a walk in the park, since you have to find your concentration again. The second start was better for me, but not enough to get past Max. I probably paid for the lack of balance in the first stint, that made us return to the garage in advance. The fight with Norris also forced me to push a lot. At the end, the feeling improved. Overall, I'm having a good time. Last year, I had my worst weekend here. Today we proved to be really strong, so we can do well anywhere,” the Mexican rider analyzed the situation.

Carlos Sainz was another surprise. He demonstrated that he was really solid in his performance and mental clarity and proved to be even more incisive than Leclerc. “I had a great race, considering that it wasn’t easy at all with the tire wear. Fortunately, at some point, it became cloudy, and the situation improved. Maybe it would’ve been easier with just one stop, but we had decided for two, and this forced me to do several overtakes. As usual, this track is insidious, because you have to do the last chicane perfectly to go fast at turn one. Overall, everything went smoothly, but it was complicated. In the second part of the race, overtaking the two Mercedes was hard. In particular, I struggled to stay in the slipstream. I would’ve needed to go a lot faster to reach Norris and Leclerc. In any case, in the end, I did it, thanks to the hard compound, which I felt good with. It gave me the confidence to push. The China round? It won’t be easy to tackle a sprint on a circuit that we haven’t been on for four or five years, with only one hour of free practice available, and with the new asphalt. It’s going to be a nice challenge. Now we have two weeks to recuperate and do our best.



Translated by Leila Myftija

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