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Max Verstappen wins Japanese GP as Red Bull secure back-to-back constructors' titles

Runaway series leader Max Verstappen returned to dominant form on Sunday, winning the Japanese Grand Prix and moving a step closer to securing his third consecutive Formula One drivers' championship.

The Red Bull driver, who missed out on the podium a week ago in Singapore, started from pole and held on for his 13th win of the season.

McLaren driver Lando Norris was second, 19.4 seconds back of Verstappen, while his teammate Australia rookie Oscar Piastri was third for his first F1 podium.

With Verstappen's win, Red Bull secured this year's constructors' title, their sixth overall and second in a row.

Verstappen increased his lead over Red Bull teammate Sergio Perez to 177 points. He could wrap up his third consecutive title at the Oct. 6-9 Qatar Grand Prix.

It was a disastrous day for Perez, who was given a penalty for hitting Haas driver Kevin Magnussen and retired from the race after serving the penalty.

Verstappen saw his record 10-race winning streak come to end at Marina Bay in Singapore and came to Japan determined to get back on top of the podium. Prior to Sunday's race, he led every session at the fast Suzuka circuit, where he wrapped up last year's championship in a rain-shortened race.

Conditions on Sunday were ideal and Verstappen took full advantage.

The race got off to a thrilling start with Verstappen, Piastri and Norris going wheel-to-wheel but the Red Bull driver held his lead through the first two turns.

The safety car came out on the first lap when Alfa Romeo driver Valtteri Bottas made contact with another car resulting in debris on the track. Verstappen was able to quickly retake the lead after his first pit stop and was never seriously challenged.

Ferrari driver Charles Leclerc was fourth followed by Mercedes' Lewis Hamilton.

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