Max Verstappen continues to weave himself into the story of the 2015 F1 season, following up already strong showings in Singapore, Hungary and Malaysia with a fighting drive into the points in the Japanese Grand Prix.

While not quite as up against it as he was when relegated to the back of the pack in Marina Bay, the young Dutchman had to overcome non-participation in Q2 - plus a penalty for some dodgy parking of a stricken Toro Rosso - before he could begin the race at Suzuka, but once again overcame the odds to claim a points finish.

Starting from 17th, Verstappen had already picked up three places in the opening laps courtesy of others' misfortune before picking off the Sauber of Felipe Nasr for good measure. Although he eventually had to cede the place back to the Brazilian, the Toro Rosso driver kept his nose clean through the first part of the race, and again when caught up behind Daniil Kvyat and Fernando Alonso through the middle of the 53-lap event.

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Rating his pass on the Spanish veteran as his best of the race, Verstappen also picked off STR team-mate Carlos Sainz to claim an eventual ninth place in a race that had promised little overnight.

"It was a great race!" he enthused, "I think the start was good and I was able to overtake Nasr straight away in sector one1, even though he got me back in the hairpin because I got a bit blocked and didn't want to take too many risks!

"That was a shame, because I then got stuck behind him for quite a lot of laps and lost some time with the other cars ahead but, after my first pit-stop, I was able to push again until I got stuck behind Kvyat and then Alonso. But I didn't give up and, in the end we were able to end up in front, which is very positive.

"To go from P17 to P9 at a track like this one is a good result and I'm happy to have scored points again. It was a very good day."

With Sainz following his team-mate across the line, Toro Rosso was able to celebrate another double points finish, which moves it slightly further ahead of Sauber in the battle for seventh in the constructors' table.

"For Max to go from P17 to P9 demonstrates how strong his race was," team boss Franz Tost confirmed, "From a strategy point of view, I think we made the most out of it and in the end, it was a good race for us, finishing with both cars in the points for the second time in a row. We are now looking forward to Sochi, where I expect to be more competitive than here..."