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A third Red Bull 1-2 this season in just 4 rounds! DRC’s Formula 1 Japanese GP review.

Red Bulls domination, Ferrari’s strong pace and continued struggles for Mercedes. Here’s how the 2024 F1 Japanese GP went:

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Formula 1 arrived at Suzuka for the 49th Japanese Grand Prix at an unconventional time, compared to recent years when Suzuka typically featured later in the calendar. Despite the unusual timing, the cherry blossoms everywhere were a treat for all.
 A close battle was anticipated, given Sainz’s recent victory in Australia and Red Bull’s dismal performance in the same race. Unfortunately, the outcome didn’t align with the expectations as Red Bull regained their momentum and returned to their winning form, securing their third 1-2 finish of the season. 

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Qualifying Report

Max Verstappen continued his streak of pole positions after setting a pole lap time of 1:28.197s. His teammate, Perez, came very close after an insane lap but fell short by 0.066s. Norris was the closest to the Red Bulls as he qualified third, and the last race winner, Carlos Sainz, managed to place his car at P4.

The other Ferrari of Charles Leclerc only managed a meager P8 despite showing brilliant pace in the practice sessions.

“I’m not happy with our qualifying today. The feeling in the car was quite good, but the pace was just not there, so we will look at the data and assess what exactly this was down to.”
 – Charles Leclerc ( post Quali )

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Veteran Fernando Alonso continued his great run at Suzuka after grabbing the fifth spot on the grid. In contrast, his teammate Stroll was eliminated in Q1 itself leaving the Aston Martin team with many questions regarding their car’s performance.

The challenging times for the Alpines persisted despite the updates, with Ocon and Gasly commencing the race from the 15th and 17th positions, respectively. Surprisingly, Gasly has yet to qualify for Q2 this year.

The Silver Arrows had a decent pace, resulting in them qualifying P7 and P9 on the grid. Piastri continued his run of consistent performances as he qualified P6. On the other hand, his fellow countryman, Ricciardo, missed out on Q3 and qualified for P11 after being pushed to the elimination zone by his teammate and local boy, Tsunoda.

Race Report 

Verstappen and Perez got off to a great start after keeping Norris at bay, who in turn was under pressure from the Ferrari of Carlos Sainz. But the action didn’t continue for long as Ricciardo and Albon crashed during the opening lap, causing a red flag and bringing the action to a standstill. 

Ricciardo commented on the incident post-race,

“After yesterday, where we made some steps in the right direction, I was really excited to come racing today to have a good day. In Turn 2, the tyres settled a little bit, but I still felt like I was sliding and then saw an Aston on the outside of me. I was watching him but when I was preparing to enter Turn 3, without using all the track as it was the first lap, Albon got alongside me and had a better exit from Turn 2. I didn’t see him and we touched.”

The incident provided all the other drivers with an opportunity to grab a free pit stop.


Everybody in the Top 5 followed a similar tyre strategy by starting on the Medium compound. Alonso took a brave call by switching to Softs whereas the Mercedes drivers started on Hards.

Zhou retired a few laps later, citing a gearbox issue.

Norris was one of the earlier cars to pit in the race to undercut the Ferraris, but huge tyre degradation saw him falling behind. In the end, he managed to bring home P5 for the team. Meanwhile, his teammate wasn’t able to do anything significant as he spent the majority of the race behind the car of Alonso and ultimately got overtaken by Russell during the final laps of the race, resulting in an 8th-place finish for him.  

Piastri reflected on the race and said,
It was a difficult afternoon. Things didn’t quite click into place and we weren’t fighting for the positions we wanted to. However, it’s four points finishes on the bounce this year and there’s plenty to take away.” 

The Ferraris were the second-best team on the race day. Although Leclerc started 8th on the grid, he managed his tires beautifully, having stopped only once after the red flag, and led an amazing drive to P4. Sainz also demonstrated an impressive pace, securing himself a spot on the final podium step. 

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The Silver Arrows scored a handful of points as George and Lewis finished P7 and P9, respectively. They seemed to be looking for a one-stopper in the race, but neither car had the race pace to match the rest of the grid which eventually caused them to switch to a two-stop strategy. Interestingly, Lewis conceded his track position to Russell in the race claiming that George was much faster and had a better shot at chasing the guys ahead.

Fernando Alonso continued to impress the fans with his consistent performances for the British team. Starting at P5, he managed to keep the pursuing Mclaren of Oscar Piastri at bay for most of the race. During the final moments, George Russell was closing in on Alonso and Piastri,  but Alonso strategically kept Piastri in the DRS zone to defend against the oncoming Mercedes. In the end, he managed to finish P6. 

Lance Stroll’s Aston Martin battled with the mid-field pack; he nearly cracked the top 10 but fell short, settling for P12 after being overtaken by Haas of Nico Hulkenberg. 

The local Japanese, Yuki Tsunoda, kept his starting position in the race result and also won a solitary point after finishing 10th at his home Grand Prix.

Ecstatic after the race, he commented,
 “A big thank you to everyone at Honda, Red Bull, and Visa Cash App RB who have been involved and supported me throughout my journey. I don’t feel like I scored P10 today but P1 – it’s a great feeling.”

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Verstappen and Red Bull returned to their original winning ways. He established a solid lead on both occasions with a strong start, distancing himself from the rest of the field. Although Perez had to grind a bit after being undercut by Norris for P2, once he did reclaim his position he continued to drift away from the rest and gained a comfortable lead.

Team Standings – After the Japanese GP

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Teams will go racing again in Shanghai in two weeks as the Chinese Grand Prix returns to the Formula 1 calendar after a break of five years and 104 races.

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Formula 1

A Three way Battle in Budapest: The 2024 F1 Hungarian Grand Prix Preview.

Formula One returns to the historic Hungaroring, a tight twisty and unpredictable race track. Read DRC’s race preview here.

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As Red-Bull and Mclaren pull away from the field, Mercedes joins the party. With three race winning cars on track, all three will look to bag good points, while Ferrari will be hopeful for a better result. Welcome to DRC’s F1 Hungarian Grand Prix Preview.

Read the British Grand Prix Review here.


Know the Hungaroring

The tight and twisty Hungaroring track is located in Mogyorod, 11 miles west of the Hungarian capital, Budapest. Described as an enlarged go-kart circuit, it is one of the most technically challenging circuits on the calendar.

The Hungaroring Circuit.
The Hungaroring circuit. Photo credits: F1

The 14 corner track is also called Monaco without the walls, owing to it’s high downforce requirements. Even though overtaking is very difficult here, the track has undergone only one major revision, which was in 2003. The main straight was extended another 200 meters to make it 900m long, and the first corner was tightened to promote overtaking.

The track contains two back-to-back DRS zones, followed by a technical middle sector full of chicanes and esses. The final sector is a short one, only featuring two hairpins that feed back into the main straight. A good middle sector is crucial here.

Historically, Hungary has been a circuit full of firsts. It was the first and only circuit to host a race beyond the Iron Curtian. It is also famous for giving drivers their first wins. Jenson Button, Fernando Alonso, Heikki Kovalainen and most recently, Esteban Ocon have taken their first wins here. Max Verstappen took his first pole back in 2019 at the Hungaroring too.

The 2024 F1 Hungarian Grand Prix will consist of 70 laps around this 4.381 kilometer circuit, with a two stop strategy as the norm.


Red Bull look to fight back blow for blow

Over the last few races, Red Bull has fallen off the pace and is slowly falling into the clutches of McLaren, and even Ferrari. Right now, Red Bull lead Ferrari by 71 points, closely followed by McLaren. With both McLaren cars consistently finishing in the top 5 in the last races bar Norris’s retirement in Austria, and Checo only scoring 8 points in the last five races, it has become difficult for Max and Red Bull to outscore the Papaya clad team.

McLaren’s last upgrade has significantly improved their performance, while Red Bull is still struggling to find and mend the issues with the RB20. Verstappen recently tested the RB18 at Imola, in an attempt to figure out the problem with the new car. As Red Bull work hard to rectify their problems, McLaren seems to be getting better and better. And now with Mercedes back in the fray, a new challenger is rising to take their throne.

Max Verstappen testing the RB18 at Imola.
Max Tests the RB18 in Imola. Image cradits: Autosport

Another factor is the two on one that Max has to face. With Checo qualifying poorly, Max has to take on the McLaren, and sometimes the Mercedes pair alone. Two cars in the mix would greatly help Red Bull, and Checo will be motivated to improve his Qualifying and Race records.


Mercedes on the up as Hamilton eyes another record

The Hungaroring has always been kind to Mercedes. They have the most wins here in the Turbo-Hybrid era. Russell and Hamilton snatched pole here in 2022 and 2023 respectively. Hamilton has also won eight races here, and his first victory with Mercedes came here in 2013.

Mercedes usually nail the set-up here. With the team riding high after back-to-back victories in Austria and Silverstone, they would love to go for a treble. Lewis Hamilton will also eye a record equaling nine victories. After his win in Silverstone, he now holds the record for most wins at a single circuit with 9.

George Russell also has a fantastic track record here, finishing in the points every year since 2021, where he came eight for a struggling Williams. A podium and a top 5 finish followed in 2022 and 2023.

Mercedes will want to secure a large bag of points here, to reduce the 152 points defecit they have to the leaders Red Bull and to catch up with McLaren and Ferrari.


A Ferrari Renaissance on the Horizon?

Ferrari seems to have dropped off after their excellent performances in Melbourne and Monaco. This year, Ferrari seem to be a heavily down-force reliant car, with podiums for Charles and Carlos in Sakhir, Jeddhah, Melbourne and Suzuka, all tracks which require downforce. Of course their victories on the streets of Melbourne and Monte-Carlo confirms this.

Charles Leclerc Wins in Monaco.
Ferrari have dominated the Downforce heavy circuits. Image Credit: Anonymous

Their struggles at the more balanced tracks of Canada and Barcelona, along with power heavy tracks like Austria and Silverstone have cost them dearly. It is also evident that the Ferrari is one of the more draggy cars on the straights and struggle with straight line speed.

As the Hungaroring is a heavy-downforce track, it seems like Ferrari have a shot at victory here. This might be one of the few chances for them to get points during the European Leg of the season, along with Zandvoort and Baku. Consequently, Ferrari have bought new floor upgrades to make most of this valuable chance. A huge points haul in the Hungarian Grand Prix will solidify their chances against McLaren, Red Bull and even Mercedes who look threatening.


Dark Clouds loom over the race

An alarming video was shared by Mikey Brown, a mechanic at Aston Martin, shows the Pitlane flooding in what he described as “a HUGE storm” . McLaren, having barely repaired their motorhome in time for the British GP after the fire in Catalunya, have suffered another issue. The repaired motorhome has lost it’s roof multiple times over this week, thanks to the speedy winds.

Even though Meteorologists predict a dry weekend, a small rain shower, combined with the high humidity in Hungary this time of year can put the Hungarian Grand Prix weekend in doubt.


Championship Standings

This is how the championship looks as we head into the race weekend:

The 2024 Formula One world championship standings as of 18/07/2024.
Credits: F1

Race Weekend Schedule

All events during the weekend are available to watch on F1TV and Fancode. The times given below are in IST(GMT +5:30).

DRC's Hungarian Grand Prix Race weekend schedule.

Follow Desi Racing Co to keep up to date with the speedy world of motorsports.

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Formula 1

Toyota rumoured to partner with Haas in an exhilarating return to F1

Toyota rumoured to partner with Haas to back a sensational return to F1.

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As the F1 silly season continues, a rather surprising bit of rumour is that the world’s largest automaker, Toyota, is set to return to the F1 grid as early as 2025 with the Haas F1 team.

Credits: Haas F1 team

The partnership is said to start out with a sponsorship deal, possibly with a renaming on the cards. A deal akin to that of Alfa Romeo and Sauber. With the possibility of a future technical partnership on the chassis/engine development. Toyota will likely join Dallara in assisting Haas for the chassis. Other talks suggest that Haas will use Toyota’s facilities for development and manufacturing. While this means Toyota won’t be directly involved in the construction of the F1 car, it means Haas gets a huge boost in infrastructure, experience, etc; and Toyota gets a new source of income.

Toyota’s history in F1

The Japanese manufacturer has seen immense success in WEC, taking 5 consecutive 24 hours of Le Mans victories from 2018 to 2022 and WRC, clinching the manufacturers’ championship in 2018, 2021, and 2022, and the championship for drivers and co-drivers every year since 2019. It wasn’t so for its time in F1, or at least according to Toyota’s standards and ambition.

Credits: Toyota-europe.com

Toyota made their debut F1 in 2002. The team scored 17 podiums, and 3 pole positions but never achieved a victory. Only securing 2nd place as their best finish till they dropped out of the sport in 2009, midway through the development of the 2010 car.

What does this mean for Haas, Toyota, and F1?

Toyota’s failure was blamed on a lot of factors, this deal gave the Japanese manufacturer a second chance to right their wrongs. Haas has been on a consistent upward trajectory throughout the 2024 season. With Nico Hulkenberg scoring back-to-back P6 finishes at the Austrian and British GP, and Kevin Magnussen backing that up with commendable performances. The deal could help Haas gain the brute force of employees, resources & financial aid. Something that they have been lacking to make a meaningful impact in the sport.

F1 would most certainly benefit from having a Japanese Manufacturer in the sport. The Japanese GP attendance and the growing popularity of F1 have been steadily increasing in the country. Toyota’s return could also provide F1 with a boost to their competitiveness and financial gains.

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Formula 1

GIFT City’s Formula 1 Racetrack Plans Hit a Roadblock

GIFT City’s ambitious plan to build a Formula 1 racetrack has stalled due to structural issues and high costs, sources reveal. Initially flagged off with a feasibility study, the project now faces uncertainties.

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Gujarat’s GIFT City’s ambitious plan to build a racetrack for holding Formula 1 (F1) races has come to a grinding halt just four months after initiating a feasibility study and selecting consultants, according to sources familiar with the matter.

Earlier this year, on March 11, the Gujarat Sports Authority announced that top international F1 racetrack designers were invited to present the feasibility of constructing an F1 racetrack at GIFT City. The project saw intense competition among global designers, with the consortium of renowned German designer Hermann Tilke and India’s Arcop architects emerging as the frontrunner for the feasibility study.

GIFT City (Photo: Amit Dave/Reuters)

However, GIFT City’s plan has been halted, insiders revealed. “Designers had given feedback that given the layout of GIFT City, it may be difficult to build a racetrack that conforms to F1 standards due to structural issues,” said one source.

The financial implications also pose a significant hurdle. Estimates place the cost of building such a racetrack between Rs 5,000 and 10,000 crore.

R.S. Ninama, Director General of the Gujarat Sports Authority, and Hermann Tilke have not responded to inquiries from ET. Another source indicated that the project might be integrated into a larger plan for developing infrastructure for the Olympics. “So, you may get a racetrack, but not one that can host F1 races,” the source added.

GIFT City, located in Gandhinagar, has been developed as a financial hub. The city is aimed at attracting international businesses with various tax incentives. The government is focusing on enhancing the city’s livability by developing entertainment and leisure infrastructure. Notable projects include an underwater aquarium, water sports facilities, and a retail zone featuring a 158-meter-high Ferris wheel.

This story has been derived from a story reported by Economic Times.

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