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Max Verstappen takes pole for Japanese Grand Prix: 'A very good day'

Published on 06 April 2024 by Misha van der Kroon

Max Verstappen claimed pole position for the Japanese Grand Prix in an exciting qualifying session. The three-time World Champion ruled the Suzuka circuit by recording the fastest time in all qualifying segments. The Oracle Red Bull Racing driver secured pole position with a time of 1:28.197, which was only 66 thousandths faster than his teammate Sergio Perez. Lando Norris secured the third starting position for the race tomorrow.

After the session, Max says: “It was quite close at the end. This track is very sensitive for the tyres with the tarmac being very aggressive, and when you really want to go to the limit it doesn’t always work out. The first part of the lap was good, but then I lost grip at the front, and then you cannot really attack anymore. But the most important thing is to be on pole. Of course you want every lap to be perfect, but around a track like this that is not always the case. Overall it’s a very good day, we have a good starting position for tomorrow, and tomorrow is what counts.” 

Teammate Perez came close to Verstappen’s time and will start from P2. A good result according to Verstappen: “It’s great as a team to be P1 and P2, and hopefully we can keep that going for tomorrow. We looked strong over one lap, but we have to see what it will mean in the race. I wasn’t really satisfied with the race pace of the car. The balance isn’t great yet and we had a little too much tyre wear, so we still have to try to fine-tune a few things.”

Qualifying starts on a dry Suzuka International Racing Course, with an outside temperature of eighteen degrees. Kevin Magnussen in his Haas is the first driver to take to the track and set a time. The other drivers wait patiently before they all leave the pits. Max Verstappen immediately sets a fast time on soft tyres, a 1:28.866, which is already faster than his pole lap from last year. Verstappen decides that one lap is enough for Q1 and heads back to the garages. No one is able to improve Verstappen’s time, with which the Dutchman ends the first qualifying segment as fastest. Knocked out in Q1 are Lance Stroll (P16), Pierre Gasly (P17), Kevin Magnussen (P18), Logan Sargent (P19) and Zhou Guanyu (P20). 

At the start of Q2, both Red Bulls are the first to take to the track. Verstappen clocks a 1:28.740, just twelve thousandths of a second faster than teammate Sergio Perez. Once again, Verstappen, just like the entire top seven, only does one flying lap before returning to the pits. Also in this part of qualifying, no one manages to improve the Dutchman’s time, meaning he ends Q2 as fastest. Knocked out after the second part of qualifying are Daniel Ricciardo (P11), Nico Hulkenberg (P12), Valtteri Bottas (P13), Alexander Albon (P14) and Esteban Ocon (P15). 

In Q3, Max sets a lightning fast time of 1:28.240 in his first flying lap, claiming provisional pole position. Lando Norris is a quarter of a second slower than Verstappen and is in P2, with Perez in P3. A second run follows for the drivers in which Max improves his time a little bit, and Perez comes close to his teammate’s time. The difference between the two is just 66 thousandths of a second, in favor of Verstappen, who takes pole position for the Japanese Grand Prix. Perez locks out the front row for the Red Bull team, and Lando Norris completes the top three of the starting grid. Carlos Sainz and Fernando Alonso ended qualifying in P4 and P5, with Oscar Piastri in P6. Lewis Hamilton, Charles Leclerc and George Russell will start the race tomorrow from seventh, eighth and ninth place. And local hero Yuki Tsunoda has the crowd cheering with his P10 starting place. 

The Japanese Grand Prix will start at 7 a.m. Dutch time on Sunday.      

Contest GP Japan: win a by Max signed Racing cap

Results qualifying Japan:

1Max VerstappenVERRed Bull Racing Honda RBPT1:28.8661:28.7401:28.197
2Sergio PerezPERRed Bull Racing Honda RBPT1:29.3031:28.7521:28.263
3Lando NorrisNORMcLaren Mercedes1:29.5361:28.9401:28.489
4Carlos SainzSAIFerrari1:29.5131:29.0991:28.682
5Fernando AlonsoALOAston Martin Mercedes1:29.2541:29.0821:28.686
6Oscar PiastriPIAMcLaren Mercedes1:29.4251:29.1481:28.760
7Lewis HamiltonHAMMercedes1:29.6611:28.8871:28.766
8Charles LeclercLECFerrari1:29.3381:29.1961:28.786
9George RussellRUSMercedes1:29.7991:29.1401:29.008
10Yuki TsunodaTSURB Honda RBPT1:29.7751:29.4171:29.413
11Daniel RicciardoRICRB Honda RBPT1:29.7271:29.472
12Nico HulkenbergHULHaas Ferrari1:29.8211:29.494
13Valtteri BottasBOTKick Sauber Ferrari1:29.6021:29.593
14Alexander AlbonALBWilliams Mercedes1:29.9631:29.714
15Esteban OconOCOAlpine Renault1:29.8111:29.816
16Lance StrollSTRAston Martin Mercedes1:30.024
17Pierre GaslyGASAlpine Renault1:30.119
18Kevin MagnussenMAGHaas Ferrari1:30.131
19Logan SargeantSARWilliams Mercedes1:30.139
20Zhou GuanyuZHOKick Sauber Ferrari1:30.143