Dominant Verstappen on pole at F1 Japanese GP ahead of the incredibly impressive Piastri

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It’s time to set the grid for the Japanese GP. Championship leader Max Verstappen took the top spot in all three practice sessions after the Ferrari dominance in Singapore, but who will come out on top today?

The first drivers to exit on track in the sunny Suzuka were Lawson and Stroll, followed by the Red Bulls. The Canadian driver after his big crash in Singapore during qualifying is back behind the wheel of his AMR23m and puts the first time on the leaderboard in 1:32.246.

With nine minutes to go on the clock, Logan Sargeant crashed out heavily at the final corner. The Williams driver is ok, but a break was needed to rebuild the barriers and remove the rather destroyed car.

During the red flag, Verstappen is on top with a 1:29.878, followed by Norris and Piastri. As the session was resumed, the Ferrari drivers were among the first to come out on track, yet to sign a lap.

Bottas, Zhou and Leclerc were all noted for not respecting the newly-reinstated rule on out lap maximum times. The Monegasque driver jumps up to third, with Singapore race winner Carlos Sainz in fifth.

Verstappen, Norris and the Ferrari drivers remain in the pits, confident in their earlier laps. In the final heated moments of the session, Albon signs his first timed lap of the session, which is enough for Q2, whereas Guanyu Zhou rans wide off track after having his earlier attempt deleted for track limits.

Liam Lawson was an outstanding P4 in the AlphaTauri.

Out in Q1: Bottas, Stroll, Hulkenberg, Zhou, Sargeant

Verstappen signs the first timed lap of Q2 in 1:29.964 on used tyres, as news breaks that the Leclerc, Bottas and Zhou out lap matter will be investigated after the end of the session.

Photo credit: Oracle Red Bull Racing

At first Perez had slotted in in P2 ahead of the Ferrari drivers, but both McLaren drivers slotted in between the championship leader and his teammate, with Oscar Piastri 0.158s off Verstappen’s best attempt.

Out of the provisional Q3 are at the moment Alonso, the Alpine drivers, Albon and Magnussen, as the last two are yet to sign a lap, whereas Liam Lawson in his fourth Formula 1 race is in P10, ready to fight for his second top ten after Singapore.

Pieere Gasly mentions on the radio an issue in his car, saying he feels “something loose between his feet”, and pits to find a solution.

Piastri stopped in pitlane, returning to the garage as McLaren felt he was safe. Verstappen and Norris didn’t return on track for a final attempt, satisfied with his previous attempts.

Alex Albon bolts to P7 before returning to the pits ahead of the other drivers’ last set of attempts.

Ultimately, track evolution won’t be enough for him to make it through, as he’s bumped out by Lawson and Russell.

Yuki Tsunoda, who will partner with Daniel Ricciardo for 2024, replaced Albon in P7.

It’s the Japanese driver’s first Q3 appearance since the Monaco GP, whereas his teammate will start from P11, only 0.043s off Alonso’s P10 lap in a very tight Q2, where all top ten drivers’s times were in the space of half a second.

Out in Q2: Lawson, Gasly, Albon, Ocon, Magnussen

Verstappen is once again the first driver out on track, setting the first benchmark of the final segment in 1:29.012 for the fastest lap of all the session. His teammate Sergio Perez is 1.411s off the two times champion’s lap.

The McLarens split the two Red Bull drivers, with Oscar Piastri on provisional front row 0.446s behind Verstappen, with George Russell and Fernando Alonso on their out laps and the Ferrari drivers still in the pits. Alonso’s lap sets him in P6, ahead of Hamilton and Tsunoda, whereas Russell moves up to P4.

With three minutes on the clock the Ferrari drivers join the rest of the grid on track. Verstappen shaves off a couple tenths, signing a 1:28.877 for provisional pole, with Leclerc and Sainz ending up in P4 and P5 after their first attempt.

The McLaren drivers didn’t improve thier earlier performance, so the Dutch driver takes pole position at Suzuka with the largest margin since Micheal Schumacher in 2004.

Leclerc beat Perez to 4th, with Sainz, Hamilton, Russell, Tsunoda and Alonso rounding out the top 10.