Verstappen takes pole position in Japanese GP 2023
Max Verstappen and his Red Bull team brushed off a challenging weekend in Singapore by storming to pole position for the Japanese Grand Prix, getting the better of McLaren pair Oscar Piastri and Lando Norris during Saturday’s qualifying session at Suzuka.
Verstappen clocked a time of 1m 29.012s in the early minutes of Q3 and improved to a 1m 28.877s on his second run, a dominant performance that put him more than half a second clear of Piastri and Norris – who could not better their initial times – as the chequered flag dropped.
Charles Leclerc pipped the other Red Bull of Sergio Perez to fourth position, with team mate Carlos Sainz rounding out the top six positions, the two Ferrari drivers only completing one lap apiece in the pole shootout after using up more soft tyres earlier on.
After their tricky first day of practice, Mercedes had to settle for seventh and eighth in qualifying, with seven-time world champion Lewis Hamilton ahead of George Russell, who was another to be limited to just one attempt in Q3.
Home favourite Yuki Tsunoda, fresh from being announced at AlphaTauri alongside Daniel Ricciardo for the 2024 season, put in a fine run to ninth position, with Fernando Alonso the last of the Q3 runners and landing 10th on the grid.
F1 newcomer Liam Lawson came agonisingly close to a Q3 berth but had to settle for 11th position, followed by the Alpines of Pierre Gasly and Esteban Ocon, who were split by Alex Albon’s Williams, and the lead Haas of Kevin Magnussen.
Alfa Romeo lost both cars at the Q1 hurdle, with Valtteri Bottas just missing the cut in 16th position and Zhou Guanyu placing 19th, the Chinese racer having been seen running wildly wide and losing his final lap for exceeding track limits, while also reporting traffic.
Lance Stroll and Nico Hulkenberg followed in the other Aston Martin and Haas machines, with Williams rookie Logan Sargeant bringing up the rear behind the aforementioned Zhou after crashing out of proceedings midway through the opening phase.
Sargeant entered the weekend with more questions being asked about his F1 future and, having vowed to cut out mistakes, he dramatically lost control of his Williams at the final corner, took a trip through the gravel and slammed into the barriers, bringing out a red flag.
There could yet be a twist in the tale before Sunday’s race, however, with Leclerc, Zhou and Bottas all under investigation post-session for allegedly failing to follow the Race Director’s instructions regarding maximum lap time.
FORMULA 1 LENOVO JAPANESE GRAND PRIX 2023 – PRACTICE 3
|1||1||RED BULL RACING HONDA RBPT||1:30.267||12|
|4||11||RED BULL RACING HONDA RBPT||1:31.004||+0.737s||12|
|9||14||ASTON MARTIN ARAMCO MERCEDES||1:31.549||+1.282s||16|
|10||24||ALFA ROMEO FERRARI||1:31.668||+1.401s||15|
|11||77||ALFA ROMEO FERRARI||1:31.699||+1.432s||15|
|14||22||ALPHATAURI HONDA RBPT||1:31.951||+1.684s||18|
|17||40||ALPHATAURI HONDA RBPT||1:32.048||+1.781s||18|
|19||18||ASTON MARTIN ARAMCO MERCEDES||1:32.154||+1.887s||19|