Motor racing-Verstappen back to winning ways to lead Red Bull 1-2 in Japan

Formula One F1 - Japanese Grand Prix - Suzuka Circuit, Suzuka, Japan - April 7, 2024 Red Bull's Max Verstappen celebrates after winning the Japanese Grand Prix REUTERS/Kim Kyung-Hoon/Pool

SUZUKA, Japan (Reuters) -World champion Max Verstappen got back to winning ways on Sunday with a third straight pole-to-flag victory at the Japanese Formula One Grand Prix, leading team mate Sergio Perez across the line for a Red Bull 1-2 at Suzuka.

The Dutchman suffered his first retirement since 2022 in Melbourne last time out to snap a nine-race winning streak but had no mechanical issues this week as he made it three wins from four races this season.

"That was a very lovely race, the car just got better and better," the Dutchman said over the team radio.

Carlos Sainz, the winner in Australia two weeks ago, rode fresher tyres in the latter stages of the race to edge Ferrari team mate Charles Leclerc, who used a one-stop strategy, out of the final podium spot in third place.

"It was tough out there," said Sainz.

McLaren's Lando Norris finished fifth with the Mercedes pair of George Russell and Lewis Hamilton down in seventh and ninth.

Alex Albon's Williams and the RB of Daniel Ricciardo crashed into each other on the opening lap, triggering a red flag and a 30 minute delay while the debris was cleared and a barrier repaired. Both drivers emerged unscathed.

RB's Yuki Tsunoda finished 10th, securing points in his home grand prix for the first time to the delight of the crowd.

(Reporting by John Geddie, writing by Nick Mulvenney, editing by Peter Rutherford)

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