Max Verstappen pleased after not a ‘complete disaster’

Max Verstappen can claim his second World Championship at this weekend's first Japanese Grand Prix since 2019.

Max Verstappen made a strong start to the Japanese Grand Prix, on the back of arguably one of his most difficult weekends of the season.

The Dutchman failed at the first opportunity to wrap up his second Drivers’ Championship last weekend at the Singapore Grand Prix, after driver errors during the race and a monumental blunder by his team in qualifying ended any hope of victory.

Having to abort his final Q3 lap due to a lack of fuel was arguably the source of Verstappen’s challenging race, after being made to start from virtually the middle of the pack in P8.

Fast forward to this weekend and the conditions at Suzuka are actually worse than they were at the Marina Bay Circuit, with the entire day having been run predominantly on the full Wet tyres.

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Verstappen ended FP1 in P6 and FP2 in P3; however, it won’t have any influence on qualifying which is set to be completely dry.

To win the title at Suzuka, the 25-year-old needs to outscore Charles Leclerc by six points and Sergio Pérez by eight, something he can guarantee by winning the race with the fastest lap.

The Dutchman doesn’t think Friday was a “complete disaster” but would’ve liked for some more “representative” running.

“I would have liked it more if it was more representative, but it’s always nice to be here,” said Verstappen.

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“Luckily it wasn’t a complete disaster with the weather and we could get running and do a little bit of stuff,” he admitted.

“Knowing where you are on pace in the wet is a bit tricky. The basic things are what we did and not more than that. That is also why I am looking forward to tomorrow to see how we will be in dry in qualifying.

“It’s starting from zero again tomorrow in the dry, it’s the same for everyone and won’t make massive differences throughout the grid.”

On the back of his second victory of the season, Pérez will be looking to remain the master of the wet conditions, with the weather looking “mixed” for Sunday.

The Mexican carried his Singapore form into the opening day in Japan, after ending FP1 in P10 and FP2 in P6.

Apart from a slight excursion into the gravel at Turn Nine, Pérez enjoyed the day at the “best track in the world” but is hoping for better weather on Saturday “for the fans”.

“It was a shame for the fans, this weather, but it is looking much better tomorrow,” said Pérez after FP2.

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“Sunday also looks a bit mixed, so it can also be a great day for the fans.

“This track is always a challenge even if it is wet. It’s great. The best track in the world.

“I think we are fairly comfortable in these conditions and we have a clear idea of what we are going to do. So, it should be good for us.”