Red Bull driver Max Verstappen grabbed pole position for the Japanese Grand Prix, increasing his chances of wrapping up the 2022 world title this weekend, as he edged out Ferrari pair Charles Leclerc and Carlos Sainz in qualifying.
Verstappen led after the opening Q3 runs and his initial time of 1m 29.304s was just quick enough to seal top spot, the Dutchman finishing 0.010s clear of Leclerc and 0.057s up on Sainz, as team mate Sergio Perez completed the top four.
However, the stewards will be taking a look at an incident involving Verstappen and Lando Norris in the early stages of Q3, after Verstappen darted left at the exit of 130R on a slow lap, forcing Norris to take avoiding action as the McLaren built up speed.
FORMULA 1 HONDA JAPANESE GRAND PRIX 2022
|1 Max VERSTAPPEN Red Bull Racing||1:29.304|
|2 Charles LECLERC Ferrari||1:29.314|
|3 Carlos SAINZ Ferrari||1:29.361|
|4 Sergio PEREZ Red Bull Racing||1:29.709|
|5 Esteban OCON Alpine||1:30.165|
Daniel Ricciardo was pushed down to 11th – and a Q2 exit – after Vettel’s improvement, with the Alfa Romeos of Valtteri Bottas and Zhou Guanyu surrounding home favourite Yuki Tsunoda in 12th and 14th respectively.
Mick Schumacher bounced back from a tough start to the weekend, which saw him miss the 90-minute FP2 session after crashing out of FP1, to take 15th place, usurping Kevin Magnussen as the leading Haas driver.
Alex Albon was the quickest Williams driver in 16th position, narrowly missing out on a spot in Q2, while Pierre Gasly suffered a disappointing Q1 exit in the other AlphaTauri after encountering brake issues throughout the opening phase, taking 17th.
Having starred in the wet on Friday, Magnussen struggled for pace in the dry en route to 18th, with Lance Stroll (Aston Martin) and Nicholas Latifi (Williams) bringing up the rear – the latter’s five-place grid penalty for clashing with Zhou in Singapore not resulting in a change to the order.