Verstappen narrowly misses out on victory in Japan

Verstappen and Ricciardo celebrate with Lewis Hamilton in Japan
Verstappen and Ricciardo celebrate with Lewis Hamilton in Japan

Max Verstappen had race winner Lewis Hamilton in his sights but was held up by back markers, forcing him to settle for second place at the Japanese Grand Prix.

Team-mate Daniel Ricciardo came home third to make it back-to-back double podium finishes for the first time since 2013 for the team from Tilbrook.

Verstappen, who won last time out in Malaysia, kept Hamilton within five seconds throughout the 53 laps, but as the world championship leader struggled towards the end, the 20-year-old closed to within a second.

But Fernando Alonso and Felipe Massa's battle for 10th place would cause havoc for Verstappen as Hamilton slipped by, while the Dutchman was delayed, seeing him drop back unable to make a move for the win.

"I could see Lewis managing his tyres and, with traffic, it seemed difficult for him to follow other cars compared to me," Verstappen said. "When you close up, you lose a lot of downforce. I couldn't really attack him, but I tried."

The battle for third saw roles reversed, with Ricciardo holding off the other Mercedes in Valtteri Bottas in the closing stages to hold on to third place - his first podium in Japan.

He added: "This is my first podium here... my objective this weekend was to get the Suzuka podium, and I have it – it feels great.

"It's a circuit I've always enjoyed, and with this year's car it's a lot of fun.

"The race after the start spread out and wasn't that exciting from my point of view. I then had Valtteri coming at the end, so to have a bit of pressure at the end made it more exciting – it was good fun."