Sebastian Vettel set a new outright lap record at Suzuka as Ferrari secured a front-row lockout ahead of today’s Japanese Grand Prix.
Qualifying was pushed back to race day due to the typhoon affecting Japan on Saturday, with windy conditions making running difficult for the drivers.
The red flag was out just over two minutes into the session as Robert Kubica got on the grass, sending his Williams sliding into the barrier and causing significant damage to the car just hours before the race in Suzuka.
With no drivers having set a time before the crash, there was a mad dash to get back on track, with traffic proving a trouble for some drivers. Only a few had managed to get a flying lap in when Q1 was halted again by Kevin Magnussen spinning off at the same place Kubica crashed, damaging the front and rear wings of his Haas. The Dane managed to get the car back to the pits, but the team wasn’t able to repair the car in time to get him back out on the track.
The second stoppage caused another rush to get back on the track, with 11 drivers still needing to set a time. Sergio Perez missed out after attempting to progress without coming in for a second set of tyres, while Daniel Ricciardo lost too much time in the final sector, with George Russell also eliminated in Q1.
Nico Hulkenberg’s hopes of reaching the top 10 shootout ended when he reported an issue with his car over the team radio. He was instructed to return to the garage without changing gear due to a major problem.
Pierre Gasly made it through to Q3, as did Romain Grosjean, having both seen their teammates fail to progress, while Lance Stroll narrowly missed out on a spot in the final part of qualifying, despite his teammate being in the bottom five.
As the drivers came back out for the final session, Valtteri Bottas had the better of his teammate despite a lockup, with Lewis Hamilton seemingly struggling to set a clean lap.
However, it was always Ferrari who looked the quicker in Q3, with Vettel setting the pace on his first flying lap, before improving to 1:27.164 on his second run to ensure he starts of the front of the grid.
The two Red Bull drivers line up on the third row, having set identical times, but Max Verstappen in credited with fifth having posted his time before Alexander Albon.
Provisional qualifying result:
1 Sebastian Vettel (Ferrari)
2. Charles Leclerc (Ferrari)
3. Valtteri Bottas (Mercedes)
4. Lewis Hamilton (Mercedes)
5. Max Verstappen (Red Bull)
6. Alexander Albon (Red Bull)
7. Carlos Sainz (McLaren)
8. Lando Norris (McLaren)
9. Pierre Gasly (Toro Rosso)
10. Romain Grosjean (Haas)
11. Antonio Giovinazzi (Alfa Romeo)
12. Lance Stroll (Racing Point)
13. Kimi Raikkonen (Alfa Romeo)
14. Daniil Kvyat (Toro Rosso)
15 Nico Hulkenberg (Renault)
16. Daniel Ricciardo (Renault)
17. Sergio Perez (Racing Point)
18. George Russell (Williams)
19. Kevin Magnussen (Haas)
20. Robert Kubica (Williams)