Japanese GP: Winners and Losers

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Winners

  • Max Verstappen was just a few car lengths from Hamilton at the end of the race and kept him honest all day long. It's great to see the Red Bull's taking the fight to Mercedes right as the challenge from Ferrari seems to be self-destructing. Max has been on form and looking hungry since the summer break and came away with another admirable result that could erase some of the hurt from earlier in the year.
  • Lewis Hamilton has the championship all but won, and can lock things up next race if he scores another swag of points and Vettel isn't in the mix. On the whole we've seen a more focused driver in Lewis this year, with far less controversies and meltdowns of the sort we saw in Japan just 12 months ago. 
  • Esteban Ocon delivered P6, which it seems Force India are targeting for their drivers, but what's more he out-qualified Perez and held his ground when the pressure was on. Kudos also to Force India for giving a clear "no" in response to Sergio's request to attack, frankly imho Perez made his bed earlier in the season and now he has to lie in it. 

Losers

  • Jolyon Palmer underlined why he's being released by Renault next year (or even for the rest of the season) with another disappointing weekend in a car that Hulkenberg proved is good enough for reasonable points. But with both Haas cars scoring in the minor point-paying positions and pulling ahead of Renault in the constructors', this is probably the final time we'll get to mention Palmer in these winners/losers lists. All we can do is hope that if he makes a return he shows improved form. 
  • Carlos Sainz is unlucky to fall into the Losers column in a week where the margin for error is slim. His final race for Toro Rosso (for now?) wasn't a memorable one, but sadly for the team doesn't befit the work they've done and the results they've achieved together. Never mind, Carlos. We'll always have Singapore.
  • Sky's Nico Rosberg experiment was an oddity throughout the whole weekend. You'd think even former world champions wouldn't be introduced into the main broadcast without some basic media training. It was also pretty awks to see the presenters that used to become bilious at the thought of the guy having to pat his back and act like they were mates. I'm glad to see Nico contributing, and hope he sticks around, but his unusual dropping in felt unplanned and unmanaged. Better luck next time.

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