Verstappen edges ahead of Leclerc by 0.010 seconds

Championship-elect Max Verstappen scored an important pole position at Suzuka by edging out Charles Leclerc but the Red Bull driver faces a stewards investigation over an incident with Lando Norris.

Despite failing to improve on his final run in Q3, Verstappen’s banker lap was quick enough to land the top spot in qualifying as Leclerc just dropped a hundredth in the final sector.

That comes as victory and a bonus point for fastest lap will earn Verstappen his second Formula 1 title.

In the climax to qualifying, Leclerc was the first of the pole contenders to begin his flying lap and duly improved on his personal best in the first sector before going quickest of anyone in S2.

But the Ferrari driver ran 0.01 seconds down through the closing part of the lap to miss out by 0.009 seconds, as Verstappen failed to improve in S1 and S3 after running wide and shedding some carbon.

Carlos Sainz, who had the legs on Leclerc earlier in the day, ran to third and was 0.06 seconds down as Sergio Perez will complete the second row, four tenths down on his teammate.

The Singapore Grand Prix winner had gone comfortably fastest in Q2 when Verstappen did not opt for a second lap but then complained of understeer to fall out of the fight for pole position.

Esteban Ocon ran to a strong fifth for Alpine as Lewis Hamilton led the subdued Mercedes attack in sixth over Fernando Alonso.

George Russell set the eighth-fastest time over Sebastian Vettel on his final Formula 1 appearance at Suzuka, while Lando Norris rounded out the top ten.

But there is a question mark hanging over the provisional polesitter.

Verstappen, who set the pace in Q1, led the opening segment in the final part of qualifying as he toured round in one minute, 29.304 seconds to find an imperious quarter of a second over Leclerc and Sainz.

But Norris notably had to take evasive action early into Q3 as he had to take to the grass as Verstappen seemed to attempt to warm the tyres out of 130R and the RB18 stepped wide.

The Red Bull driver did repass Norris and appeared to raise his hand by way of an apology.

The incident took place when both were on an out-lap. It will be investigated post-session.

Vettel ran out of sequence in the 15-minute Q2 to ensure clean air but he did leave himself at risk of being caught out by track position, but he initially climbed as high as fifth position.

While he was shuffled down to tenth to still make it into the shootout for pole as the improvements came, he kept ahead of Daniel Ricciardo, who was eliminated in P11.

The McLaren driver had looked strong on Saturday but missed the cut-off by a tiny 0.003 seconds after failing to improve on his crucial lap, as largely determined by an iffy final sector.

Valtteri Bottas dropped time in the opening sector that he could not recover so failed to improve and will start the race in P12 ahead of home favourite Yuki Tsunoda.

Zhou Guanyu took the second Alfa Romeo to P14, while Mick Schumacher was P15, the German having the measure of his teammate Kevin Magnussen despite missing all of FP2 on Friday as the team changed the chassis on his car after he crashed the Haas on an in-lap in a wet FP1.

Aston Martin driver Vettel had just about survived to fight on in Q2 after Alex Albon missed out on the top 15 by a slender 0.055 seconds in the climax to the first part of qualifying.

The Williams driver had already had a lap time deleted for pushing track limits through the famous Spoon Curve. He was then the last to run over the line in Q1 but despite a personal best first sector, he dropped time in the middle part of the lap to ensure he was eliminated.

Struggles and major complaints from both AlphaTauri drivers over the AT03’s braking throughout the session meant Pierre Gasly was knocked out at the first time of asking.

The newly confirmed 2023 Alpine driver locked up through the hairpin, to his immense frustration over team radio, to run only P17 ahead of Magnussen.

Lance Stroll failing to improve on his final go with a lock-up at the hairpin at a cost of four tenths landed him P19, while Nicholas Latifi brought up the rear – the Canadian already down to serve a five-place grid drop for his crash with Zhou in the Singapore Grand Prix.

If Max Verstappen gets a penalty for impending Lando Norris in Q3 at 130R, then the world championship will take an interesting turn at Suzuka despite the Red Bull driver scoring a pole position. If the grid penalty is applied, then Charles Leclerc will get promoted to P1. Down to the race stewards to decide the fate of the Formula 1 title.

Japanese Grand Prix, qualifying positions:
1 Max Verstappen Red Bull 1:29.304
2 Charles Leclerc Ferrari 1:29.314
3 Carlos Sainz Ferrari 1:29.361
4 Sergio Perez Red Bull 1:29.709
5 Esteban Ocon Alpine 1:30.165
6 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes 1:30.261
7 Fernando Alonso Alpine 1:30.322
8 George Russell Mercedes 1:30.389
9 Sebastian Vettel Aston Martin 1:30.554
10 Lando Norris McLaren 1:31.003
11 Daniel Ricciardo McLaren 1:30.659
12 Valtteri Bottas Alfa Romeo 1:30.709
13 Yuki Tsunoda AlphaTauri 1:30.808
14 Zhou Guanyu Alfa Romeo 1:30.953
15 Mick Schumacher Haas 1:31.439
16 Alex Albon Williams 1:31.311
17 Pierre Gasly AlphaTauri 1:31.322
18 Kevin Magnussen Haas 1:31.352
19 Lance Stroll Aston Martin 1:31.419
20 Nicholas Latifi Williams 1:31.511

5 thoughts to “Verstappen edges ahead of Leclerc by 0.010 seconds”

  1. Japanese Grand Prix qualifying review as reported by

    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.

    Alpine converted their encouraging practice pace as Esteban Ocon and Fernando Alonso took fifth and seventh respectively, Alonso splitting Mercedes pair Lewis Hamilton and George Russell.

    Sebastian Vettel made it through to Q3 for the first time since June’s Azerbaijan Grand Prix en route to P9, with Norris completing the top 10 positions on the grid after his close call with Verstappen.

    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.

    Q1 – An element of the unknown

    With F1 returning to Suzuka after a three-year break due to the Covid-19 pandemic, and final practice marking the first dry running of the weekend after a wet Friday, drivers and teams entered qualifying with limited relevant information at their disposal.

    As the pit lane opened for the first set of runs, it was FP3 pace-setter Verstappen who continued to lead the way with a time of 1m 30.244s on softs – immediately smashing his benchmark from final practice.

    It was a time that would stay unbeaten for the remainder of Q1, with Ferrari pair Sainz (0.112s back) and Leclerc (0.178s back) taking P2 and P3, while Alpine duo Alonso and Ocon sandwiched Perez’s Red Bull.

    Mercedes initially sent Russell and Hamilton out on medium tyres, but swapped to softs after the initial runs to move both drivers out of danger and into the Q2 phase – Russell taking P6 and Hamilton P11.

    McLaren team mates Ricciardo and Norris placed seventh and eighth respectively, as Zhou completed the top 10. Tsunoda made a strong start to qualifying on home soil as he progressed to Q2 in 12th, with Schumacher, Bottas and Vettel the final drivers to make the cut.

    Albon fell at the first hurdle by half a tenth of a second after a valiant effort, while Gasly – recently announced as an Alpine driver for the 2023 season – could not follow team mate Tsunoda through to Q2 after complaining of brake issues that led to a heavy lock-up at Turn 11 on his final effort.

    Magnussen had impressed on Friday with runs to P5 in the wet in both FP1 and FP2, but dropped back to 15th in a dry FP3 and could manage no more than 18th in qualifying, ahead of only Stroll and Latifi.

    While Latifi was given a grid drop of five places by the stewards for his collision with Zhou last time out at Marina Bay, he will remain 20th and last for the start of Sunday’s race.

    Knocked out: Albon, Gasly, Magnussen, Stroll, Latifi

    Q2 – Ricciardo agonisingly close to Q3

    Sainz and Leclerc were quick to head out when the clock started ticking in Q2, with the Spaniard promptly reporting that the sun had broken through the clouds and could lead to a “slower track”.

    After initial pace-setting efforts from the Ferraris, Verstappen resumed his position at the front of the field by clocking a 1m 30.346s – and, as predicted by Sainz, marginally slower than what he managed in Q1.

    As the sun withdrew again – and Verstappen, Sainz and Leclerc remained in the pits – Perez stormed to P1 with another run and a time of 1m 29.925s, putting him almost half a second clear up front.

    Late gains from Alonso and Ocon saw the Alpines rise to P2 and P4, sandwiching leader Verstappen. A host of other improvements knocked Sainz and Leclerc down the order, but they made it through to Q3 in P6 and P9 respectively.

    Hamilton and Russell wound up fifth and seventh, while Norris and Vettel were the other drivers to reach Q3 – Vettel declaring that he was “ecstatic with this one”. Ricciardo got knocked out as a result by 0.003s, with both Alfa Romeos, Tsunoda and Schumacher also eliminated.

    Knocked out: Ricciardo, Bottas, Tsunoda, Zhou, Schumacher

    Q3 – Verstappen fends off the Ferraris

    Verstappen showed no signs of slowing down during the first Q3 runs as he pumped in a 1m 29.304s to see off Leclerc and Sainz’s initial times, but there would be drama on a slow lap when he almost collided with Norris.

    As Norris rounded 130R to begin a push lap, he encountered a slow-moving Verstappen just after the apex, with the Red Bull darting to the left under acceleration, before being pulled back to the right. With Norris taking to the grass to avoid contact, both drivers have been summoned to the stewards for a review of the incident.

    Leclerc and Sainz threatened to usurp Verstappen with their final laps but fell 0.010s and 0.057s short respectively as they crossed the line, meaning pole went to the reigning world champion, despite him failing to improve as he kicked up some dirt and shed a piece of bodywork.

    Perez took fourth, almost half a second down on Verstappen, as the Alpine and Mercedes machines of Ocon, Hamilton, Alonso and Russell squabbled over positions five to eight. Vettel starred in ninth, with Norris 10th and the slowest Q3 runner after his compromised session.

  2. McLaren’s Lando Norris expects Max Verstappen to land penalty for Suzuka Q3 near-miss. has the news story.

    Lando Norris expects Max Verstappen to land a penalty for their near-miss at 130R in Formula 1 qualifying for the Japanese Grand Prix on Saturday, which is under investigation.

    Red Bull driver Verstappen scored his fifth pole position of the 2022 season at Suzuka on Saturday, edging out Ferrari rival Charles Leclerc by one-hundredth of a second in Q3.

    But Verstappen is due to meet with the stewards after qualifying over the incident with Norris ahead of the opening runs in Q3 approaching 130R.

    Verstappen was going slowly and weaving to try and warm his tyres before starting his lap, but lit up the rears and had to catch the car to prevent a spin.

    This coincided with McLaren driver Norris moving to pass Verstappen up the inside entering 130R, forcing him to put his car on the grass to avoid hitting the Red Bull ahead.

    “I was just driving quite slow, and I went to accelerate but my tyres were quite cold, so I had a big moment,” Verstappen explained after qualifying.

    “Then of course Lando was trying to pass me at the same time so he had to avoid me a little bit. But luckily nothing happened.”

    The stewards will meet with Verstappen and Norris at 5pm over the incident, putting Verstappen’s pole position at risk for an alleged breach Article 33.4 of the sporting regulations, which states you cannot drive erratically.

    Norris felt it was “quite clear” that Verstappen was trying to stop him from getting past, saying it was “something that you cannot do.”

    “People always overtake before the last corner, as much as everyone always agrees [not] to it, everyone does it,” Norris told Sky Sports after the session.

    “It doesn’t matter. He would have done the same if he was in my situation, but I wouldn’t have swerved at him if I was in his situation.”

    Asked if he would expect a penalty for doing what Verstappen did, Norris replied: “Oh yeah, for sure.”

    But Red Bull team principal Christian Horner did not believe Verstappen was trying to block Norris, saying they had “been following each other all the way around the circuit until that point.”

    “I don’t think he’s trying to block Lando, I just don’t think he was expecting someone on an outlap at that point near the chicane,” said Horner on Sky Sports.

    “He was warming his tyres up, getting ready to go and open his lap. You can see they start one by one through there.”

  3. Ferrari’s Carlos Sainz admitted he is “fed up” with narrowly missing out on Formula 1 poles especially compared to his teammate Charles Leclerc. has the story.

    Carlos Sainz says he is “fed up” of narrowly missing out on pole position after the Ferrari Formula 1 driver landed third in qualifying for the 2022 Japanese Grand Prix.

    The Spaniard, who notched his two F1 poles earlier this year at Silverstone and Spa, fell short in the Q3 shootout at Suzuka to slip behind pacesetter Max Verstappen and Ferrari teammate Charles Leclerc.

    Sainz appeared to have the measure of a scruffy Leclerc throughout the dry running on Saturday but at the death in qualifying, he slipped behind and was 0.057s adrift of Red Bull driver Verstappen’s benchmark time.

    This he blamed on overworking the soft Pirelli tyres leading up to the final chicane to lose rear traction.

    Explaining the run, Sainz said: “It was a good lap. Clean all the way until the last chicane. There, probably I overcooked a bit the tyres going in and it cost me quite a bit of lap time.

    “But [there was] another half a tenth that we could have got there.”

    He added: “It was a very clean lap, a very good lap all the way until the last corner. I picked up quite a bit of wheelspin, just a bit too much for my rear tyres in that last lap.”

    After his early-season complaints over handling the twitchy rear end of the Ferrari F1-75 compared to Leclerc, Sainz has closed his one-lap shortcomings to his teammate.

    British GP victor Sainz missed out on pole in Hungary by 0.044s to George Russell and after topping qualifying at Spa, was third at Zandvoort and a narrow 0.092s off the pace.

    Despite the gap growing to a little over two tenths for the most recent Italian and Singapore GPs, Sainz said he was “fed up” with his near misses but was determined to earn another pole over the four remaining rounds.

    He said: “I’m a bit fed up of being half a tenth off from pole. I think it’s been a few qualis now, consecutive since Zandvoort.

    “Also, before the summer break, where we are all three very tight with each other. But somehow it tends to fall into Max or Charles’ hands instead of mine.

    “Hopefully towards the end of this season, I will end up getting one and get it out of the way.”

  4. Mercedes driver George Russell commented that the Suzuka circuit “exposed” the W13’s straight-line speed weakness. has the details.

    George Russell believes the requirements of Suzuka have “exposed” Mercedes’ straight-line speed weakness after slumping to eighth place in Formula 1 qualifying for the Japanese Grand Prix.

    Mercedes enjoyed a successful Friday at Suzuka as Russell led a 1-2 finish ahead of teammate Lewis Hamilton in a wet second practice, although he warned to take the times with a pinch of salt.

    With dry conditions returning for qualifying, Max Verstappen took pole for Red Bull ahead of the Ferrari duo of Charles Leclerc and Carlos Sainz, while Hamilton and Russell could only finish sixth and eighth respectively.

    Mercedes opted for a high-downforce set-up for Suzuka to cope with the tight first sector and the technical chicane to close out the lap, but Russell said it had left the team exposed when it came to the long straights.

    “We’ve known this year we’ve not had the most efficient car, very draggy, and this is the first high downforce circuit where you have long straights as well,” Russell explained.

    “Normally when you look at high downforce circuits, the straights are relatively small and there’s not that chance to get those straight line deltas as well.

    “I think we’re probably losing seven or eight-tenths to Red Bull in the straights today, and the circuit has exposed that weakness of ours.”

    Mercedes ended qualifying as the fourth-fastest team as Alpine managed to qualify fifth and seventh with Esteban Ocon and Fernando Alonso, with Russell admitting the team “didn’t expect it to be this difficult.”

    “We definitely didn’t expect it to be in the fight for pole,” said Russell.

    “I think we’ve learned that by now, we need specific circuits to be in the fight for pole position. But certainly, we didn’t expect to be that far behind the leader and that far behind the Alpines.

    “But it’s not the first time this season. There’s quite a theme that we have difficult Saturdays.”

    Mercedes technical director Mike Elliott echoed Russell’s comments, saying the simulations indicated the team would perform better than it did in qualifying.

    “I think we’re a bit disappointed with the performance, but we weren’t expecting it to be a really good circuit for us,” said Elliott.

    “We expected it to be a bit more challenging. Where we want to run the car optimally in downforce level appears different to where others want to run, and that’s part of the way we’ve developed the car and part of what we need to adjust over the winter.”

    Hamilton said the car was “feeling really good” despite finishing nine-tenths of a second off Verstappen’s pole time, but he was sure that “three-quarters of that is just on the straights.”

    The seven-time world champion was open to rain hitting tomorrow’s race, although he acknowledged it could be difficult for Mercedes to make progress without DRS in the wet.

    “It’s not going to be great with our car and no DRS,” said Hamilton. “I think Red Bull is still quicker with no DRS on the straight than us when we have DRS open. But we’ll be quick through the corners.

    “The rain always opens up more opportunity. I think it could be not the most exciting race if it’s dry. At least not for us, overtaking.”

  5. Max Verstappen has kept pole position for the Formula 1 Japanese Grand Prix after receiving a reprimand for the incident with Lando Norris in Q3 at Suzuka.

    Verstappen was under investigation from the stewards after a near-miss with Norris at 130R as both drivers came to prepare for their opening laps in the final stage of qualifying.

    Norris was forced to take to the grass to avoid hitting Verstappen, who was slowing and warming his tyres when he appeared to momentarily lose control just as the McLaren went to pass.

    Norris said he expected Verstappen to receive a penalty for the incident, but the stewards have instead handed the Red Bull driver a reprimand.

    It means Verstappen will retain pole position for Sunday’s race at Suzuka, where he will clinch his second F1 world title if he wins the race with the fastest lap.

    During the hearing, Verstappen told the stewards that he was aware that Norris was behind him, but decided to try and accelerate at the same time Norris went to try and past him.

    Verstappen claimed that due to a lack of tyre temperature in his rear tyres, the car snapped and caused him to lose control, meaning Norris had to take evasive action.

    Despite his immediate comments after qualifying suggesting Verstappen should get a penalty, Norris said in the stewards’ hearing that it was “an unfortunate decision”, according to the FIA.

    “Regarding penalty, all previous breaches of this nature have resulted in a reprimand hence a similar penalty is imposed in this case,” concludes the FIA’s bulletin. It marks Verstappen’s first reprimand of the 2022 season.

    Verstappen explained prior to the stewards’ hearing that the cars were slowing on the run to the final chicane to try and create gaps, but that it was up to Norris to leave enough space to the car ahead.

    “He still wanted to get me into the chicane, but I was at the point of accelerating, but I was on very cold tyres so I had like a little moment, and that’s why he had to drive around me,” said Verstappen.

    “If you’re just a bit more respectful, then everyone is anyway lining up. I don’t think anyone is trying to pass into that last chicane.

    “Basically by trying to pass me, you create that kind of problem.”


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