Max Verstappen took his second consecutive podium in Japan, coming across the line in second place. In the final stages of the race, Verstappen closed up onto the back of Lewis Hamilton for the lead, but couldn't quite get past the championship leader.
Verstappen has endured a difficult season with multiple engine problems and first lap retirements but was handed a break last time out in Malaysia, coming home to win the race. Fresh from that victory, the Dutchman was once again happy with his car and the pace it showed during the race.
"It was great day again, I think Suzuka is great to me, I already loved the track last year," said the 20-year-old. "I think the pace today was really promising. The first stint on the supersoft, I was struggling a bit with the left front but as soon as we switched to the soft tyre it was actually very competitive.
"I was always with Lewis, especially in the last few laps. We had great pace, it was just really hard to pass. I could see Lewis managing his tyres and, with traffic, it seemed difficult for him to follow other cars compared to me. When you close up, you lose a lot of downforce. I couldn't really attack him, but I tried."
Verstappen was heard on the radio if he could "give it everything" in his attempts to overtake Hamilton, as his front right tyre was heavily worn: "The last two, three laps I gave it all to try and close the gap. We had a really good day again, the car is definitely improving race by race, so I'm really happy about that."
Bahrain International Circuit - Winter testing
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