Max Verstappen storms to F1 Japanese GP pole after a huge margin over Oscar Piastri, with Lando Norris in third.
It was a clean start to first part of F1 Japanese GP qualifying at Suzuka until the red flag for Williams’ Logan Sargeant who crashed at the final corner. He lost the rear and went on the grass to smash sideways onto the barrier to end his run.
Post the re-start, the FIA noted about putting Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc and Alfa Romeo pair of Valtteri Bottas and Zhou Guanyu under investigation for failing to keep up to the maximum time as desired by the Race Director in the pre-weekend note.
It was Red Bull’s Max Verstappen on top with a 1m29.878s lap ahead of McLaren’s Lando Norris and Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc in the Top 3. Interestingly, the Mercedes pair set identical lap time of 1m30.811s to be ninth and 10th at the end.
The knockout zone had Alfa Romeo’s Valtteri Bottas in 16th after his 1m31.049s lap from Aston Martin’s Lance Stroll (1m31.181s), Haas’ Nico Hulkenberg (1m31.299s) and Alfa Romeo’s Zhou Guanyu (1m31.398s), with no time from Sargeant as replays showed a moment for the Chinese driver.
The second part of F1 Japanese GP qualifying was smooth for most part of the session, as Red Bull’s Verstappen kept top spot after a 1m29.954s lap on an old set of tyre from the McLaren pair of Oscar Piastri and Norris in the Top 3 initially.
But neither of them went for a second run which allowed Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc to take top spot with a 1m29.940s lap from Verstappen and Red Bull’s Sergio Perez, with the Mexican improving after going for a second run on a new set of soft tyre.
While AlphaTauri’s Yuki Tsunoda made it inside the Top 10, teammate Liam Lawson was knocked out in 11th after his 1m30.508s lap from Alpine’s Pierre Gasly (1m30.509s) who found some pace after practice slump on Friday and also Saturday.
Lawson and Gasly were separared by just the 0.001s margin, as Williams’ Alexander Albon was knocked out after an early lap in 13th with a 1m30.537s lap. Alpine’s Esteban Ocon (1m30.586s) was 14th from Haas’ Kevin Magnussen (1m30.655s).
The final part in F1 Japanese GP qualifying saw Verstappen set early pace with a 1m29.012s lap which was nearly half a second quicker than Piastri’s effort who managed to be ahead of teammate Norris by just the 0.055s margin.
Perez was further off in fourth from Hamilton, with the likes of Ferrari playing the waiting game and undertaking just the one lap. A late push lap from Mercedes’ George Russell saw him slot in fourth dropping Perez to fifth, who set his time on the used tyre.
Verstappen dipped the time further to set a 1m28.877s and secure a F1 Japanese GP pole at Suzuka from Piastri (1m29.458s), finishing 0.581s behind the Dutchman. The Australian out-qualified teammate Norris (1m29.493s) who was third.
Leclerc (1m29.542s) slotted in fourth from Perez (1m29.650s) who dropped Ferrari’s Carlos Sainz (1m29.850s) to sixth with Hamilton (1m29.908s) in seventh ahead of teammate Russell (1m30.219s). Home hero Tsunoda (1m30.303s) was ninth from Aston Martin’s Fernando Alonso (1m30.560s) in the Top 10.