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F1 Japanese GP Qualifying, Verstappen Flies to Pole, Confusing other Drivers

Written by Owen Bradley

Credit: Mark Thompson

Formula One returns to Suzuka for the Japanese Grand Prix in 2024, much earlier in the year than usual but with the trees blossoming, so is the championship as the field attempts to close the gap to Championship-leader Max Verstappen.

Starting Grid - Qualifying Results

1st Max Verstappen - 1:28.197

2nd Sergio Perez, Red Bull

3rd Lando Norris, McLaren

4th Carlos Sainz, Ferrari

5th Fernando Alonso, Aston Martin

6th Oscar Piastri, McLaren

7th Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes

8th Charles Leclerc, Ferrari

9th George Russell, Mercedes

10th Yuki Tsunoda, RB

11th Daniel Ricciardo, RB

12th Nico Hulkenberg, Haas

13th Valtteri Bottas, Stake Sauber

14th Alexander Albon, Williams

15th Esteban Ocon, Alpine

16th Lance Stroll, Aston Martin

17th Pierre Gasly, Alpine

18th Kevin Magnussen, Haas

19th Logan Sargeant, Williams

20th Guanyu Zhou, Stake Sauber

Qualifying 1

Credit: Clive Mason

It was Verstappen who flew through and set a blistering time of a 1:28.800s which was quicker than the 2023 Pole time. Fernando Alonso was second fastest, only a few tenths off from the Flying dutchman and ahead of Sergio Perez in the other Red Bull.

Oscar Piastri would appear fast, about half a second from Verstappen and within the Top 5. Lance Stroll would be unable to maximise his run, not finding enough time to get himself out of Q1 as he lines up in 16th for Sunday's Grand Prix. Aside from Stroll, it was the usual suspects out of Q1: Logan Sargeant, Guanyu Zhou, Kevin Magnussen and Pierre Gasly in the Alpine. Surprisingly, Valtteri Bottas would find his way into Q2, setting a very quick time in Q1. With the track getting washed in FP2, track evolution played a big role.

Qualifying 2

It would be the Red Bull duo of Verstappen and Perez who once again set the quickest times in Q2, with Verstappen now going one tenth quicker than he did in Q1 with a 1:28.700s. Perez would be right along there with him, only one hundredth of a second away from his teammate. Lando Norris would be a couple of tenths back himself, with Alonso, Piastri, Sainz, Hamilton and Leclerc just a few tenths from Verstappen.

To the delight of the home crowd in Japan, Yuki Tsunoda would make it through to Q3 with a 1:29.400s just being enough to keep him in front of his own teammate, Daniel Ricciardo.

Qualifying 3

Credit: Mark Thompson

Verstappen would absolutely demolish the current fastest times throughout Q1 and Q2, setting a 1:28.240s. Surprisingly, Lando Norris would manage to be within three tenths of the Red Bull as Perez, Sainz, Piastri, Hamilton, Alonso and Russell would all follow suite only about four tenths behind the Red Bull of Verstappen. Hamilton said on team radio: "Where is half a second man?" Evidently, it would be tough for any of the drivers to find any serious pace out on track.

Charles Leclerc would attempt to set his lap time, in the lull between runs for everybody else. However, unfortunately for the Monegasque Ferrari driver he seemed absolutely clueless as to where the pace is being left out on track, as Hamilton and Alonso also were.

Verstappen would then go even faster, down to a 1:28.197s only a couple of tenths from going sub 1:28.000. Perez would fly to just under a tenth from his teammate, having an extraordinary middle sector.

The Japanese Grand Prix has been set up for a potentially very exciting race, the race begins at 6:00am for UK viewers.


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