Red Bull’s Max Verstappen has claimed pole for 2022 Japanese GP after he was reprimanded for a Q3 incident.
After rain impacted Friday Practice, conditions improved for FP3 and Qualifying which were both dominated by Verstappen, who edged a tight battle for pole as 0.057 seconds split the top three qualifiers although he later was reprimanded for an impeding incident in Q3.
Charles Leclerc and Carlos Sainz however will be looking to spring a surprise if the Grand Prix is wet given unclear weather forecasts, with the former needing a strong result to keep the title fight rolling over to USA in a fortnight’s time.
Elsewhere, Mercedes struggled to replicate their wet-weather pace on an eventful day as teams played catch-up in terms of dry-weather running, whilst there were some tight exits during the elimination part of Qualifying.
Now, here is a full roundup of all the action across FP3 and Qualifying at Suzuka.
Friday Practice chart topper, George Russell was first out on track ahead of a packed queue of cars as everyone looked to take full advantage of a dry track surface on a mixture of tyres, after rain prevented much running in FP1 or FP2.
The opening half-hour consequently gave way to a mixture of high-fuel runs of which Verstappen set the quickest time of 1m 32.050 on the soft tyre ahead of Red Bull teammate – Sergio Perez and McLaren’s Lando Norris who also set their quickest times of the high-fuel runs on soft tyres.
That top-three order wasn’t disrupted until Russell went second on the half-hour mark ahead of Mercedes teammate – Lewis Hamilton, only for Alpine’s Fernando Alonso to go second ahead of Esteban Ocon just two minutes later.
Sainz then went fastest in the 34th minute with 1m 30.965 ahead of his teammate, Leclerc, with the top two then split by Verstappen in the 45th minute as the reigning champion went second.
Many teams however left their soft-tyre Qualifying simulations until the final 10 minutes, with Verstappen ultimately posting 1m 30.671 just three minutes from the checkered flag to top the session ahead of Sainz, Leclerc, Alonso, Perez, Russell, Hamilton, Norris, Ocon and Lance Stroll.
|1||Max Verstappen||Red Bull||1m 30.671|
|2||Carlos Sainz||Ferrari||+ 0.294|
|3||Charles Leclerc||Ferrari||+ 0.309|
|4||Fernando Alonso||Alpine||+ 0.649|
|5||Sergio Perez||Red Bull||+ 0.843|
|6||George Russell||Mercedes||+ 0.859|
|7||Lewis Hamilton||Mercedes||+ 0.918|
|8||Lando Norris||McLaren||+ 1.076|
|9||Esteban Ocon||Alpine||+ 1.079|
|10||Lance Stroll||Aston Marti||+ 1.167|
|11||Daniel Ricciardo||McLaren||+ 1.189|
|12||Alex Albon||Williams||+ 1.275|
|13||Valtteri Bottas||Alfa Romeo||+ 1.300|
|14||Sebastian Vettel||Aston Martin||+ 1.551|
|15||Kevin Magnussen||Haas||+ 1.619|
|16||Mick Schumacher||Haas||+ 1.695|
|17||Yuki Tsunoda||AlphaTauri||+ 1.706|
|18||Guanyu Zhou||Alfa Romeo||+ 1.714|
|19||Nicholas Latifi||Williams||+ 2.197|
|20||Pierre Gasly||AlphaTauri||+ 2.210|
Nicholas Latifi and Pierre Gasly who finished second and rock bottom in FP3 were first out on track in Q1 but it was Yuki Tsunoda who initially set the pace with 1m 31.631, only for Norris to go 0.200 seconds faster.
Verstappen however continued his FP3 pace in Q1 as he went fastest with 1m 30.224 whilst the elimination zone once everyone set a lap time compromised of Kevin Magnussen, Sebastian Vettel, Hamilton, Latifi and Gasly who endured brake issues throughout the session.
Williams’ Alex Albon then had his fastest lap time deleted for exceeding track limits, whilst Gasly and Hamilton climbed out of the drop zone within the intervening timeframe prior to Albon’s lap time deletion.
As the checkered flag fell, Albon fell just 0.055s shy of qualifying for Q2 as he qualified 16th ahead of Gasly – who has confirmed a move to Alpine for 2023 season -, Magnussen, Stroll and Latifi who were also eliminated in Q1.
Sainz and Leclerc were first out on track for Ferrari but on used softs as Sainz set the initial benchmark time of 1m 30.444, which was usurped by Verstappen by 0.098s with 1m 30.346 on his first flier.
Norris, Vettel, Guanyu Zhou, Mick Schumacher and Tsunoda meanwhile found themselves in the elimination zone once opening laps were completed, before Perez led everyone but Verstappen, Sainz and Leclerc out for second Q2 runs.
As the checkered flag fell, only Norris and Vettel escaped elimination as Daniel Ricciardo was knocked out in 11th ahead of Bottas, Tsunoda, Zhou and Schumacher, with the Aussie missing out on a Q3 spot to Vettel by just 0.003s.
Perez meanwhile was the first driver to dip below the 90s barrier with 1m 29.925 to top Q2 on his final flier.
A frantic start to Q3 saw everyone dash straight out of the pits but once the opening laps were completed, Verstappen headed the timesheet with 1m 29.304 ahead of Leclerc, Sainz, Perez, Alonso, Vettel, Russell, Hamilton, Norris and Ocon.
Russell, Hamilton and Ocon though were on used soft tyres for their opening Q3 laps, whilst Verstappen was placed under investigation after dawdling through 130R, which forced Norris to take avoiding action to avoid a high-speed collision into the rear of Verstappen’s Red Bull.
Once the checkered flag fell, Verstappen clung onto provisional pole position which became official following his reprimand for impeding Norris, despite failing to improve on his final lap as Leclerc fell 0.010s short, whilst Sainz qualified third but 0.057s down on the Dutchman.
Perez will line up fourth ahead of Ocon, Hamilton, Alonso, Russell, Vettel and Norris.
|1||Max Verstappen||Red Bull||1m 29.304|
|2||Charles Leclerc||Ferrari||+ 0.010|
|3||Carlos Sainz||Ferrari||+ 0.057|
|4||Sergio Perez||Red Bull||+ 0.405|
|5||Esteban Ocon||Alpine||+ 0.861|
|6||Lewis Hamilton||Mercedes||+ 0.957|
|7||Fernando Alonso||Alpine||+ 1.018|
|8||George Russell||Mercedes||+ 1.085|
|9||Sebastian Vettel||Aston Martin||+ 1.250|
|10||Lando Norris||McLaren||+ 1.699|
|11||Daniel Ricciardo||McLaren||1m 30.659|
|12||Valtteri Bottas||Alfa Romeo||+ 0.050|
|13||Yuki Tsunoda||AlphaTauri||+ 0.149|
|14||Guanyu Zhou||Alfa Romeo||+ 0.294|
|15||Mick Schumacher||Haas||+ 0.780|
|16||Alex Albon||Williams||1m 31.311|
|17||Pierre Gasly||AlphaTauri||+ 0.011|
|18||Kevin Magnussen||Haas||+ 0.041|
|19||Lance Stroll||Aston Martin||+ 0.108|
|20*||Nicholas Latifi||Williams||+ 0.200|
*Latifi has a five-place grid penalty for causing a collision with Zhou in Singapore GP but that penalty has no effect, following his qualification in 20th and last place on the grid.