Verstappen dominates Japan qualifying to secure pole position

Oscar Piastri will line up alongside the reigning champion on the front row in Suzuka

SUZUKA, JAPAN - SEPTEMBER 23: Max Verstappen of the Netherlands driving the (1) Oracle Red Bull Racing RB19 on track during final practice ahead of the F1 Grand Prix of Japan at Suzuka International Racing Course on September 23, 2023 in Suzuka, Japan. (Photo by Clive Rose/Getty Images) // Getty Images / Red Bull Content Pool // SI202309230062 // Usage for editorial use only //

Max Verstappen was in a class of his own in qualifying at the Japanese Grand Prix as he secured pole position for tomorrow’s race at Suzuka.

The reigning champion never looked under threat at the top of the leaderboard, and will start alongside Oscar Piastri on the front row.

The Australian, racing at Suzuka for the first time, narrowly outpaced teammate Lando Norris, while Verstappen’s teammate Sergio Perez could only manage fifth.

The red flag was out in Q1 as Logan Sargeant lost control of his Williams in the final corner, sending him into the barrier at high speed and wrecking his car.

Traffic proved a challenge towards the end of the opening session, with Guanyu Zhou claiming he was blocked before running wide and seeing his lap time deleted.

Liam Lawson showed strong pace at the end of Q1, but used up three new sets of tyres, leaving him short for Q2, and he was unable to make it through to the top 10.

Provisional qualifying result:

1 Max Verstappen (Red Bull)

2. Oscar Piastri (McLaren)

3. Lando Norris (McLaren)

4. Charles Leclerc (Ferrari)

5. Sergio Perez (Red Bull)

6. Carlos Sainz (Ferrari)

7. Lewis Hamilton (Mercedes)

8. George Russell (Mercedes)

9. Yuki Tsunoda (AlphaTauri)

10. Fernando Alonso (Aston Martin)

11. Liam Lawson (AlphaTauri)

12. Pierre Gasly (Alpine)

13. Alex Albon (Williams)

14. Esteban Ocon (Alpine)

15. Kevin Magnussen (Haas)

16. Valtteri Bottas (Alfa Romeo)

17. Lance Stroll (Aston Martin)

18. Nico Hulkenberg (Haas)

19. Guanyu Zhou (Alfa Romeo)

20. Logan Sargeant (Williams)

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