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Max fifth in Suzuka qualifying: 'Not happy'

Published on 13 October 2019 by Stefan Meens

Max Verstappen qualified in fifth position ahead of the Japanese Grand Prix. Sebastian Vettel clinched pole position ahead of Ferrari team mate Charles Leclerc. Mercedes’ Valtteri Bottas completed the top three.

“We changed too many things, which is why Q3 wasn’t good”, explains Max. “I asked for a slipstream because I’m using the most wing. I’m not happy with this qualifying.”

The tricky conditions, caused by heavy winds, made qualifying more challenging than normal. “It affected me in the second sector and on the main straight the car pulled to the left. But it’s not an excuse. It’s the same for everyone.”

Despite being disappointed with P5, the Aston Martin Red Bull Racing driver is confident ahead of the race. “I am, but we could’ve done a lot better.”

Early on in Q1, before anyone has completed a timed lap, a red flag is thrown; Robert Kubica has crashed heavily after dipping a wheel on the grass in the run up to start/finish. The Polish driver is unharmed but his Williams team will have got their work cut out to repair the car in time for the race.

Once the track is cleared, the session resumes, but not for long. On the exit of the final corner, Kevin Magnussen has an almost identical incident, resulting in a Haas sliding into the barriers. Despite a lot of damage, the Dane is able to drive his car back to the pits.

After clearing the circuit for a second time, the session gets properly underway. Max’ only effort (1:28.7) comfortably qualifies him for Q2. Meanwhile, Daniel Ricciardo (Renault), Sergio Perez (Racing Point) and George Russell (Williams) join Kubica and Magnussen on the list of drivers stranding in Q1.

In the second part of qualifying, Max only clocks one lap time, 1:28.4, which is enough to send him through to Q3. The Alfas of Antonio Giovinazzi and Kimi Raikkone, Lance Stroll (Racing Point(, Danill Kvyat (Scuderia Toro Rosso) and Nico Hulkenberg (Renault) all fail to progress.

Ferrai is quick of the mark in the third and final part of qualifying. After the first timed laps, it is Vettel ahead of Leclerc, Bottas, Hamilton, Max and Albon. Although most drivers improve on their laps in their second run, the order does not change, meaning Vettel will start the race on pole position.

Alex Albon set the exact sane time as his team mate but as Max set it first, the Dutchman will start fifth, Albon sixth.

Results qualifying Japan:

1Sebastian VettelVETFerrari1:28.9881:28.1741:27.064
2Charles LeclercLECFerrari1:28.4051:28.1791:27.253
3Valtteri BottasBOTMercedes1:28.8961:27.6881:27.293
4Lewis HamiltonHAMMercedes1:28.7351:27.8261:27.302
5Max VerstappenVERRed Bull Racing Honda1:28.7541:28.4991:27.851
6Alexander AlbonALBRed Bull Racing Honda1:29.3511:28.1561:27.851
7Carlos SainzSAIMcLaren Renault1:29.0181:28.5771:28.304
8Lando NorrisNORMcLaren Renault1:28.8731:28.5711:28.464
9Pierre GaslyGASScuderia Toro Rosso Honda1:29.4111:28.7791:28.836
10Romain GrosjeanGROHaas Ferrari1:29.5721:29.1441:29.341
11Antonio GiovinazziGIOAlfa Romeo Racing Ferrari1:29.6041:29.254
12Lance StrollSTRRacing Point BWT Mercedes1:29.5941:29.345
13Kimi RäikkönenRAIAlfa Romeo Racing Ferrari1:29.6361:29.358
14Daniil KvyatKVYScuderia Toro Rosso Honda1:29.7231:29.563
15Nico HulkenbergHULRenault1:29.6191:30.112
16Daniel RicciardoRICRenault1:29.822
17Sergio PerezPERRacing Point BWT Mercedes1:30.344
18George RussellRUSWilliams Mercedes1:30.364
0Kevin MagnussenMAGHaas FerrariDNF
0Robert KubicaKUBWilliams MercedesDNS