Max champion after sixth round Real Racers Never Quit on Suzuka
Published on 04 April 2020 by Kees-Jan Koster
Max Verstappen has taken the championship on the sixth and final evening of “Real Racers Never Quit by Team Redline”. At the virtual Suzuka circuit in Japan, the more than 40 participants, all professional drivers, were driving LMP2 cars.
Max, who had at the start of today’s event a lead of 133 points to Kelvin van der Linden, drove like the rest of the field in a Honda Performance Development ARX-1. The Dutchman started both races from P2 behind Van der Linde and finished the first race in P6. Max finished the second race in P3, which gave him the championship.
Just like with the previous events each driver gets two “hot laps” to set a time to qualify. After two laps Max is 0.077 seconds behind Kelvin van der Linde, putting him in P2, with Nicky Catsburg in P3.
At the start Max is not able to battle Van der Linde and there are many incidents during the first lap. Still Max seizes the opportunity to overtake Van der Linde during the first lap and takes the lead at the start of the second lap. In turn 1 Max is hit by Van der Linde, causing him to go off the track. He can continue but makes a mistake in Spoon and looses another couple of places. Halfway the second lap Max is in P9. The incident with Van der Linde is “under investigation”.
Lando Norris does not do very well and has to give up after a crash. Halfway the race Max is in P7 and is closing in on Tom Dillmann. Not much later the Dutchman overtakes the Frenchman. But that is all and Max finishes in P6.
After the first race Max says: “Kelvin touched me in the first corner, but it is what it is. Later I lost another three places in Spoon. It is a tricky corner in every car. I think I bottomed out, causing me to spin. It is unfortunate. For the next race I just need to qualify one place better.”
After qualifying for the second race it is again Kelvin van der Linde on pole. Max was close to pole, but Van der Linde was just a little bit quicker. Verstappen starts again from P2, with Norris in P4.
This time the start of the second race takes place without incidents. Max follows Van der Linde closely at the opening phase of the race. In lap four Max increases the pressure on Van der Linde, but instead of trying to overtake Max makes a little mistake and Norris overtakes him.
Max increases the pressure on the Brit straight away, but he cannot get past. Ahead Van der Linde increases his lead. In the end the top three stays the same. And so it is Van der Linde winning the race with Norris in P2 and Max in P3. With that Max wins his first championship of 2020 with 805 points! Kelvin van der Linde finishes the championship in P2 with 60 points behind.
After the race Max says: “I could have won the first race, but it was all about collecting some more points which I needed after my computer crashed after Interlagos. Otherwise I could have taken the championship sooner. It was the first time I drove one of these LMP2 cars, it was good fun. They are completely different than a GTE car. Suzuka is also a cool track to drive on, one of the best circuits in the world.”
Looking ahead to real racing in the Formula 1 later this year in Japan, Max concludes: “As Red Bull we have to compete against Ferrari and Mercedes and they are not the easiest to beat. We had some good races here in the past. I hope in general that we get to race here, and then I hope we will get back to Japan, especially because our partnership with Honda which makes it even more special. You want to deliver a good result at the home race for Honda fans.”