George Russell Max Verstappen Mercedes Red Bull
2J9D7WC VERSTAPPEN Max (ned), Red Bull Racing RB18, portrait RUSSELL George (gbr), Mercedes AMG F1 Team W13, portrait during the Formula 1 Pirelli Grand Premio de Espana 2022, 6th round of the 2022 FIA Formula One World Championship, on the Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya, from May 20 to 22, 2022 in Montmelo, Spain – Photo DPPI

Max Verstappen is dominating the grid for a reason. He is currently driving the fastest car on the grid. Moreover, the current double-time champion is breaking record after record. The Dutchman is on his way to winning his third consecutive Driver’s World Championship. He has won 12 races already, and there are still seven more races remaining. However, several teams are bringing new upgrades to the race in Suzuka, Japan.

The previous race winner, Ferrari, and the rest of the podium finishers in Singapore are bringing new upgrades to challenge Red Bull. However, even they know how superior the Austrian team is on a track like the one in Japan. Recently, in the qualifying sessions, Max Verstappen and Red Bull showed how much faster they can be than the rest, especially their arch-rivals, Mercedes. The drivers of the Silver Arrows explained they worry because of the huge gap between them and Verstappen in the qualifying sessions on Saturday.


Mercedes Drivers Explain They Are Wary Of Their Gap To Max Verstappen In Q3

Lewis Hamilton Max Verstappen
F1 Grand Prix of Abu Dhabi 44 Lewis Hamilton GBR, Mercedes-AMG Petronas F1 Team, 33 Max Verstappen NED, Red Bull Racing, F1 Grand Prix of Abu Dhabi at Yas Marina Circuit on December 11, 2021 in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates. Photo by Kamran Jebreili/AP/FIA Pool via HOCH ZWEI Abu Dhabi United Arab Emirates Poolfoto HOCH ZWEI/Pool/AP ,EDITORIAL USE ONLY.

After Saturday, Max Verstappen is back with another pole position this season. But Mercedes racers Lewis Hamilton and George Russell finished at P7 and P8, respectively. As Hamilton finished seventh in Q3, he set a time of 1 minute and 29.908 seconds. Hamilton was happier on Saturday because the W14 car was a “real struggle” on Friday. However, what scared Hamilton was the gap of 1.031 seconds to the championship leader, Max Verstappen. Moreover, Lewis Hamilton blamed the rear downforce of W14 that made them so slow in the first sector of Q3.

Adding to that, Hamilton mentioned it is going to be really tough on Sunday. He believes Mercedes will struggle like the rest the next day. What is more worrying for the team is that they are still trying to close the gap to Red Bull for the next season. But the gap is still more than a second on a track like in Japan. Hence, it is all the more reason to worry for Mercedes. Moreover, George Russell said they had a difficult weekend so far in Japan. But they knew Red Bull would get back to their norms and McLaren would be faster. However, Russell says that looking at the gap on the paper still hurts.

Red Bull Seems Too Strong For The Rest In Japan

Red Bull RB19 Max Verstappen Sergio Perez
Red Bull RB19 Max Verstappen Sergio Perez Source: Sky Sports

However, the defeat in Singapore did not sit well with the Red Bull team. The championship leader had the worst race of the current season. Ferrari’s Carlos Sainz won the race and broke Red Bull and Max Verstappen’s winning streak. However, the Austrian team knew that the Singaporean high downforce street circuit would cause difficulties for the RB19 car. The Dutchman could not even get a podium finish in Singapore. Eventually, Max Verstappen finished at P5, a far cry from what he has been doing so far this year.

Prior to the Singaporean Grand Prix, the worst performance for Max Verstappen was two P2 finishes in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, and Baku, Azerbaijan. Hence, Red Bull and Max Verstappen are gearing up to get back to the top of the podium in the Japanese Grand Prix. They are pretty confident about the Suzuka track because it suits the RB19 car very well. Hence, there are very few doubts about Red Bull winning the Japanese Grand Prix.