Verstappen defends late Hamilton charge for second at Suzuka

Max Verstappen
Max Verstappen

Max Verstappen held off defending world champion Lewis Hamilton to keep second place at the Japanese Grand Prix on Sunday.

The 19-year-old inherited Hamilton's place when the Mercedes driver got a dreadful start, dropping to eighth, and held the position throughout.

Initially holding off Sebastian Vettel's Ferrari, Verstappen looked to be closing on race winner Nico Rosberg until Hamilton's charge in the final 10 laps saw him having look in his mirrors rather than up the road.

Using his Energy Recovery System (ERS) to great effect at the end of the lap, Verstappen kept out of Hamilton's range, limiting Hamilton to a single, last-gasp move at the final chicane on the penultimate lap, which the Mercedes man over-cooked and ran off the track.

For Verstappen, it is consecutive second place finishes after he followed team-mate Daniel Ricciardo home in Malaysia last weekend.

But it was a disappointing show for Ricciardo, winner last time out as he couldn't convert his fourth place start, finishing sixth. Jumped by both penalised Ferrari's off the line, the Australian managed to pass Kimi Raikkonen at the first round of pit-stops.

Daniel Ricciardo initially ran ahead of Kimi Raikkonen but lost out to the Finn after a slow pit-stop.

Daniel Ricciardo initially ran ahead of Kimi Raikkonen but lost out to the Finn after a slow pit-stop.

A sticky right-front at his final stop though cost him dearly, around three seconds, allowing Raikkonen to retake the position. In the final stint, it was a lonely race for Ricciardo, unlike his team-mate, as he had to settle for sixth place behind both cars from the Italian marque.