Verstappen takes Chinese Grand Prix victory

This was a simply lovely weekend for the current Formula 1 world champion as Max Verstappen is victorious at the Chinese Grand Prix, following on his sprint victory and pole position in the qualifying. The Red Bull driver finished ahead of Lando Norris and Sergio Perez.

On the back of scoring Red Bull Racing’s 100th pole position, Verstappen was never threatened throughout the first race in Shanghai since 2019 and effortlessly overcame two safety car restarts in the middle period of the this eventful race.

After leading the pack away without any real threat from behind, Verstappen pushed a 1.6-second gap at the end of the first lap over Fernando Alonso, who had opened his race with a great move around the outside of Sergio Perez into the first corner.

The usual Verstappen break-build that contemporary Formula 1 fans have come to expect ended up being eradicated by a safety car on lap 20, as the Sauber of Valtteri Bottas came to a halt at Turn 11 with an engine problem – which prompted an eventual virtual safety car prior to the emergence of the Mercedes-AMG GT.

On the restart, a push on Yuki Tsunoda from Kevin Magnussen put the RB driver out, causing another safety car period to stop the progress that Verstappen was able to make.

Additional, there was a hit from the back on Daniel Ricciardo as Lance Stroll misjudge the safety car restart. This caused damage on the RB and Daniel was forced to retire for the second time while Lance received a ten-second time penalty.

Tasked with leading the field away on both restarts, Verstappen opened the throttle on the exit of Turn 14 to hold his position and, when the second safety car period came to an end on lap 32, he resumed his progress at the front of the pack.

He was now leading from Lando Norris, who took his single stop of the race under the virtual safety car, and the decision from Red Bull to put both Verstappen and Perez under the full safety car a few laps later ensured that the McLaren driver moved out in second.

Initially keeping Verstappen in his sights, Norris could not maintain the same level of pace as the lead Red Bull and instead focused on preserving the runner-up spot over Perez – who also dropped behind Charles Leclerc after his pitstop.

As such, Verstappen maintained his level of race pace and crossed the line with 13.7 seconds in hand over Norris. The McLaren driver put together an expertly managed second stint despite his team’s reservations about its pace in China, while Perez could not made any real impression, the gap between the other podium finishers stood at 5.3 seconds.

Leclerc and Carlos Sainz finished fourth and fifth after finding a way to make a one-stop – designated Plan D over the radio – work – although Leclerc was able to extend his first stint and managed to secure a stop under the VSC on lap 21, Sainz had pitted four laps before and had a tougher challenge to drag his efforts on the hard tyre to the end.

Sainz had also been able to resist a brief period of pressure from George Russell, who looked almost certain to catch the Ferrari driver until eventually having to back off to save his tyres – preserving sixth in the process for Mercedes.

The two had moved up a position when Fernando Alonso enacted a late stop as Aston Martin gambled on a set of soft tyres during the safety car. This gave Alonso the momentum to move up to fifth, having lost positions as a result of stopping on lap 11 and giving track position to those who benefitted from the safety car period to make scheduled stops.

But Alonso needed to stop again as the softs wouldn’t make it to the end, and thus switched to mediums for the final 12 laps. Fernando fell out of the top ten, but he managed to put together a string of moves to take advantage of those on worn hard tyres to break into seventh.

Oscar Piastri held off Lewis Hamilton for eighth despite damage to his diffuser. On the first safety car restart, Alonso outbraked himself and caused both Russell and Piastri to check up. Daniel Ricciardo then nudged the back of Oscar’s car, but was in turn hit from behind by Lance Stroll. The resulting diffuser damage caused Ricciardo to retire.

Nico Hulkenberg thus picked up the final point as a result of that chaos, finishing 2.3 seconds clear of Alpine’s Esteban Ocon to secure a vital point for the Haas team.

So an eventful Chinese Grand Prix thanks to the safety car and yet it was inevitable that Max Verstappen winng. The speed of the current champion is impressive and the strategy calls by Red Bull is excellent. So it will be interesting if the others can challenge when we go to Miami next and yet another sprint weekend.

Chinese Grand Prix, race results:
1 Max Verstappen Red Bull 1:40:52.554
2 Lando Norris McLaren +13.773s
3 Sergio Perez Red Bull +19.160s
4 Charles Leclerc Ferrari +23.623s
5 Carlos Sainz Ferrari +33.983s
6 George Russell Mercedes +38.724s
7 Fernando Alonso Aston Martin +43.414s
8 Oscar Piastri McLaren +56.198s
9 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes +57.986s
10 Nico Hulkenberg Haas +60.476s
11 Esteban Ocon Alpine +62.812s
12 Alexander Albon Williams +65.506s
13 Pierre Gasly Alpine +69.223s
14 Zhou Guanyu Sauber +71.689s
15 Lance Stroll Aston Martin +82.786s
16 Kevin Magnussen Haas +87.533s
17 Logan Sargeant Williams +95.110s
Daniel Ricciardo RB DNF
Yuki Tsunoda RB 26 DNF
Valtteri Bottas Sauber DNF

Red Bull Racing achieved their 100th pole thanks to Verstappen

Triple champion Max Verstappen achieved Red Bull Racing’s 100th pole position at the Chinese Grand Prix. His lap time of one minute, 33.660 seconds was three tenths clear of teammate Sergio Perez

The title leader had rarely looked beatable throughout the session and set out in pursuit of pole position, particularly as no other driver had been able to beat his opening one minute, 33.977 seconds effort – let alone his ultimate pole lap.

This set up a thrilling battle to join him on the front row, however, and a series of contenders all bid their claim to start at the front. Fernando Alonso ended the first runs with the second-best laptime, but the second Q3 run provided further improvements.

Carlos Sainz, who recovered from a Q2 crash, initially popped up onto the front row, but was beaten by Ferrari teammate Charles Leclerc. Oscar Piastri beat them in turn before Lando Norris relegated his teammate, but Alonso then briefly reclaimed his earlier position.

But Perez broke into the one minute, 33 seconds to seal a Red Bull 1-2, knocking Alonso down to the second row of the grid – where he starts alongside Norris.

Piastri starts fifth alongside Leclerc, while Sainz joins George Russell on the fourth row as he was Mercedes’ sole representative in the top half of the field.

Nico Hulkenberg broke into Q3 and starts Sunday’s Chinese Grand Prix race from ninth, with Valtteri Bottas completing the top ten.

Q2 was interrupted by a red flag as Sainz clipped the gravel with his rear tyres on the exit of the final corner and spun, ending up in the wall on the opposite end of the track. It looked as though the Ferrari driver was going to be unable to fire his car up again, but he recovered his car out of its resting place and made it back into the pits.

Sainz managed to not only get back on track, but escaped the Q2 drop zone with a significant margin to book his slot into the final stage of qualifying.

Lance Stroll was eliminated out in the final moments as Bottas shrugged off his place in the drop zone with a time good enough for P10, while Daniel Ricciardo’s place in the top ten had been brief as Leclerc put the RB driver back into the drop zone, where he shook out in P12.

Esteban Ocon and Pierre Gasly both sandwiched Alex Albon, as neither Alpine nor the remaining Williams could break out of Q2.

Lewis Hamilton proved to be the biggest elimination in Q1 in a frantic end due to track evolution, although the seven-time champion could not benefit after a lock-up at Turn 14.

Having sought to break out of the drop zone, his final lap left Hamilton looking precarious at best ahead of a final runs in P12, but further improvements enforced his drop out.

Pierre Gasly ultimately tipped Hamilton into the bottom five with his own escape from the drop, and both local hero Zhou Guanyu and Kevin Magnussen also fell into the elimination zone despite briefly finding safety in an ever-changing session – Zhou also snatching at the front wheels into Turn 14 on the brakes.

Yuki Tsunoda faced a brief DRS issue and, although this was fixed, the RB driver could not break out of Q1 despite feeling his lap was good. Logan Sargeant suffered a spin and will start last for the main race.

So it’s been a brilliant day for Max Verstappen. Winner in the sprint race earlier and now in P1 for the main race and achieving the team’s 100th pole in the sport. Simply lovely.

Chinese Grand Prix, qualifying results:
1 Max Verstappen Red Bull 1:33.660
2 Sergio Perez Red Bull 1:33.982
3 Fernando Alonso Aston Martin 1:34.148
4 Lando Norris McLaren 1:34.165
5 Oscar Piastri McLaren 1:34.273
6 Charles Leclerc Ferrari 1:34.289
7 Carlos Sainz Ferrari 1:34.297
8 George Russell Mercedes 1:34.433
9 Nico Hulkenberg Haas 1:34.604
10 Valtteri Bottas Sauber 1:34.665
11 Lance Stroll Aston Martin 1:34.838
12 Daniel Ricciardo RB 1:34.934
13 Esteban Ocon Alpine 1:35.223
14 Alexander Albon Williams 1:35.241
15 Pierre Gasly Alpine 1:35.463
16 Zhou Guanyu Sauber
17 Kevin Magnussen Haas 1:35.516
18 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes 1:35.573
19 Yuki Tsunoda RB 1:35.746
20 Logan Sargeant Williams 1:36.358

Verstappen wins Chinese Grand Prix sprint race

Triple champion Max Verstappen came through from P4 on the starting grid to win the Chinese Grand Prix sprint race after passing old title rival Lewis Hamilton on lap nine.

The Red Bull driver appeared out of sorts in the opening series of laps as he struggled to charge his battery with the selected hybrid settings, but a series of adjustments on his steering wheel appeared to solve the issue.

With greater forward momentum, Verstappen pulled himself out of third with a simple DRS overtake on the second-placed Fernando Alonso, and then attack on a Turn 14 lock-up from Hamilton to close in for victory.

Polesitter Lando Norris had suffered a poorer start in comparison to Hamilton and, once the first corner began to approach, the Mercedes driver was level alongside the McLaren.

Norris attempted to hang his car around the outside, but Hamilton kept his car in the middle of the track at the switching point to the left-handed Turn 3. This left Norris out of road, where he ultimately dropped to seventh position.

After emerging with the lead, Hamilton started to gap Alonso and built a healthy 1.4-second buffer by the time the Aston Martin came under attack from a Verstappen.

Verstappen got by the Aston Martin driver who did not fight following a simple DRS pass, and a lap later Hamilton snatched at his left-front tyre at Turn 14 to lose time.

This gave Verstappen a great opportunity to pass for the lead on the ninth lap, which he took and disappeared off into the distance by gapping Hamilton at the rate of more than a second per lap. At the flag, Verstappen claimed the sprint victory by 13 seconds.

Hamilton remained unchallenged for second, while Sergio Perez snatched third after winning out in a thrilling scrap between himself, Alonso, and the Ferraris. This battle was the only highlight in the sprint as most of the time, it was a DRS train of cars remained in position.

Alonso had started to drop back after initially clinging on to Hamilton, slowly looming larger in Carlos Sainz’s vision as the Ferrari driver had the edge on pace over the second half. The pressure started to move up between the two and Sainz started to attack Alonso, but the Aston Martin remained in front.

Perez and Charles Leclerc also joined in and, when Alonso and Sainz went wheel to wheel through Turns 7 and 8 with contact, Perez took full advantage of the situation and went past at the following corner.

Third place was sealed when the Ferraris fought with each other rather than attempt to re-pass Perez, with Leclerc taking the position from his teammate. In the meantime, Alonso had dropped out of the race with a puncture after his contact with Sainz.

Norris, after his first-lap wide moment, was in touching distance with the pack in contention for third but could not work his way into the thick of that battle, but at least was well ahead of teammate Oscar Piastri in seventh place. George Russell completed the top eight with a gamble on soft tyres, finishing 6.2 seconds clear of home hero Zhou Guanyu to collect the final point on offer.

So not the most exciting sprint and yet it was a disappointing that Lando Norris was unable to take victory after starting from pole. Lewis Hamilton leading some laps was a highlight and yet the speed of Max Verstappen was unstoppable. Qualifying for the race comes next.

Chinese Grand Prix, sprint results:
1 Max Verstappen Red Bull 32:04.660
2 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes +13.043s
3 Serio Perez McLaren +15.258s
4 Chalres Leclerc Ferrari +17.486s
5 Carlos Sainz Ferrari +20.696s
6 Lando Norris McLaren +22.088s
7 Oscar Piastri McLaren +24.713s
8 George Russell Mercedes +25.696s
9 Guanyu Zhou Sauber +31.951s
10 Kevin Magnussen Haas +37.398s
11 Daniel Ricciardo RB +37.840s
12 Valtteri Bottas Sauber +38.295s
13 Esteban Ocon Alpine +39.841s
14 Lance Stroll Aston Martin +40.299s
15 Pierre Gasly Alpine +40.838s
16 Yuki Tsunoda RB +41.870s
17 Alex Albon Williams +42.998s
18 Logan Sargeant Williams +46.352s
19 Nico Hulkenberg Haas +49.630s
Fernando Alonso Aston Martin DNF

Norris takes sprint pole after crazy end to Shanghai sprint qualifying

McLaren’s Lando Norris came through the mayhem to take pole position for the Chinese Grand Prix sprint race. His initial time was deleted but got reinstated to beat Lewis Hamilton.

Rain emerged at the end of the SQ2 segment and continued meaning the use of intermediate tyres for the final stage of qualifying to decide pole.

Track conditions were evidently very slippery, as a number of drivers over-extended beyond the circuit’s limits and had to recover from the run-off. Charles Leclerc hit the wall after spinning on the exit of Turn 8, but was able to continue in his Ferrari and stopped for a new front wing and warmer, fresher intermediates.

Oscar Piastri got the session off with a lap above the two-minute mark, which was beaten by Sergio Perez, as the Red Bull driver led the line to begin with.

Fernando Alonso then beat the Red Bull driver, to ensure he could factor in the fight for pole, but this was subsequently beaten by the first sub-120 second lap from Lewis Hamilton, who claimed a one minute, 59.321 seconds.

Norris had gone off on the lap prior to a mighty one minute, 57.940 seconds, which had put the McLaren driver into provisional pole, but this was then subject to an unexplained deletion.

Hamilton thus looked in line for pole with a time of one minute, 59.201 seconds follow-up appeared to confirm that, but Lando’s time was reinstated and ensured an all-British front row for Saturday’s sprint race.

Alonso was third quickest over Max Verstappen, who suffered a number of moments before finally stitching a clean lap together with his final effort of the session.

Carlos Sainz and Perez locked out the third row ahead of Leclerc, who recovered enough to set a time, while Piastri could only manage eighth. The Saubers of Valtteri Bottas and Zhou Guanyu completed the top ten.

The start of SQ2 faced a minor delay as, like FP1, the grass lining the circuit bust into flames and needed to be extinguished. With rain due, the drivers all rushed to the pit exit and fighting for track position, although neither Red Bull fancied joining in.

George Russell dropped to P11 when the times had shaken out and, despite opting to go for another lap, the rain finally emerged and affected his time in the opening sector.

He was six tenths adrift of Zhou’s cut-off benchmark and had to abandon his effort as the Chinese driver make it through – sending the home crowd into fever.

Kevin Magnussen outqualified teammate Nico Hulkenberg as the Haas drivers took P12 and P13 on the sprint race grid, as Daniel Ricciardo and free practice leader Lance Stroll also fell short on their single flying laps.

Russell staged a late escape from the elimination zone in SQ1 having dropped to the bottom of the order, finding three tenths in the final sector over the cut-off time from Pierre Gasly to make it through into the next round.

This pushed Gasly into the bottom five, ensuring that he joined Alpine teammate Esteban Ocon in being eliminated in the opening stage of the session.

Alex Albon dropped out in P18, as the two Williams drivers split by Yuki Tsunoda as Logan Sargeant was last at the chequered flag.

Tsunoda had not been able to set a somewhat representative time until his final run, but could not find enough to join RB teammate Ricciardo into SQ2 as he struggled with a lap of grip.

So a crazy end to sprint qualifying with the wet conditions and yet Lando Norris came through to take pole position for McLaren. With Lewis Hamilton on the front row with Fernando Alonso and Max Verstappen next up, the sprint race is going to be exciting.

Chinese Grand Prix, sprint qualifying:
1 Lando Norris McLaren 1:57.940
2 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes 1:59.201
3 Fernando Alonso Aston Martin 1:59.915
4 Max Verstappen Red Bull 2:00.028
5 Carlos Sainz Ferrari 2:00.214
6 Sergio Perez Red Bull 2:00.375
7 Charles Leclerc Ferrari 2:00.566
8 Oscar Piastri McLaren 2:00.990
9 Valtteri Bottas Sauber 2:01.044
10 Zhou Guanyu Sauber 2:03.537
11 George Russell Mercedes 1:36.345
12 Kevin Magnussen Haas 1:36.473
13 Nico Hulkenberg Haas 1:36.478
14 Daniel Ricciardo RB 1:36.553
15 Lance Stroll Aston Martin 1:36.677
16 Pierre Gasly Alpine 1:37.632
17 Esteban Ocon Alpine 1:37.720
18 Alexander Albon Williams 1:37.812
19 Yuki Tsunoda RB 1:37.892
20 Logan Sargeant Williams 1:37.923

Verstappen leads a Red Bull 1-2 in Japan

Triple world champion Max Verstappen dominated the Japanese Grand Prix, leading a Red Bull Racing 1-2 with Sergio Perez finishing a solid podium.

Melbourne winner Carlos Sainz completed the podium ahead of his Ferrari teammate Charles Leclerc, who popped up in Perez’s race and gained several positions from his mid-pack grid spot by completing a rare Suzuka one-stop strategy.

At the first start, polesitter Verstappen easily led Perez away from the line, with the action occurring far back in the pack as the medium-starting RB cars got overtaken by soft-running rivals.

When they raced into Turn 3, Daniel Ricciardo moved over on Alex Albon – unsighted that the Williams was on his right-hand side – and the pair making contact and straight into the barriers at the start of the Esses.

The race was immediately stopped and a near 30-minute delay took place as the tyre wall was repaired.

In the second standing start, Verstappen again maintained his lead away from pole, this time moving aggressively across his teammate on the approach to the opening corners.

Perez managed to stay within a second for when DRS was activated on lap four of 57, but slipped back slightly until on lap six he ran wide out of Degner two and lost nearly a second.

The gap between the leaders continued extending until Perez stopped first for more mediums – the Red Bull duo having stayed on the mediums they had used at the initial start for the second attempt – on lap 15, where he trailed by nearly five seconds.

Verstappen was called in the next time around, but when he emerged he had a new chaser – Lando Norris, who had been the first of the frontrunners to pit on lap 11, where he took hards.

At this stage Leclerc led for Ferrari, as he stayed out longest from the leading pack – except the Mercedes cars that moved from mediums to hards during the red flag – having started down in eighth.

But by the end of lap 21 Verstappen was back to the front – after he had used DRS to easily move ahead of Leclerc on the outside line into Turn 1, and he had a 4.3 seconds lead over Norris in third, with Perez a further 1.2 seconds back.

But on the next lap, Perez dived by Norris at the chicane and so he started lap 23 with a 6.5 seconds gap to his teammate.

Over the rest of the second stint, Verstappen moved clear to an 11 seconds lead over Perez, who took several laps to catch and pass Leclerc, getting by when one-stopping Ferrari slipped off the road at Degner two on lap 26.

Checo again stopped first of the two leaders for the final pitstops, where both Red Bulls took the hards, on lap 33, with Verstappen coming in the next time by.

In the final stint, the leading duo were again initially separated by Leclerc, who had pitted for the first time at the end of the lap he slid off in front of Perez, with McLaren bringing Norris in at the same time to prevent Russell’s undercut threat in the pack behind.

Leclerc was able to run clear of Norris and cycled back to becoming a factor for Red Bull given he was not set to stop again, but the second time around, Perez was quickly by the Ferrari with a DRS run to Turn 1’s inside.

The final 15 laps kicked off with Verstappen’s lead reduced to eight seconds due to the undercuts powerful effect, but Max brought this back up to 12.5 seconds by the flag.

In the fight for the final podium position, Leclerc maintained his lead over Norris for the duration of his second stint and the McLaren’s third, but both were passed by Sainz in the closing stages after the Ferrari driver built a notable tyre offset life advantage in the middle stint of his two-stopper.

Norris finished three seconds behind Leclerc in fourth, ahead of Fernando Alonso, who appeared to be adapting his pace late on to give the chasing Oscar Piastri DRS in his own last-gasp fight with Russell.

The pair clashed at the chicane with four laps to go, the same place where Piastri locked up on the penultimate lap and Russell was able to charge down the pit straight and gain seventh at Turn 1 at the start of the final lap.

Lewis Hamilton ended up in ninth position – his race notable for offering to allow Russell by during the initial phase after the restart – which Mercedes then enacted as it tried to replicate Leclerc’s one-stop tactic before switching its cars back to a two-stopper.

To the delight of the Japanese fans, Yuki Tsunoda secured the final point in P10, including two thrilling overtakes through the Esses complex.

The race’s other retirement was Zhou Guanyu, who stopped with a gearbox issue aboard his Sauber on lap 13.

So congratulations to Max Verstappen in winning the Japanese Grand Prix. Just like last year’s Suzuka race, Carlos Sainz won the previous race and immediately the Red Bull driver strike back to be triumph. The next event is the Chinese Grand Prix and it has been four years since we last raced in Shanghai. Hopefully we get another exciting racing action.

Japanese Grand Prix, race results:
1 Max Verstappen Red Bull 1:54:23.566
2 Sergio Perez Red Bull +12.535s
3 Carlos Sainz Ferrari +20.866s
4 Charles Leclerc Ferrari +26.522s
5 Lando Norris McLaren +29.700s
6 Fernando Alonso Aston Martin +44.272s
7 George Russell Mercedes +45.951s
8 Oscar Piastri McLaren +47.525s
9 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes +48.626s
10 Yuki Tsunoda RB +1 lap
11 Nico Hulkenberg Haas +1 lap
12 Lance Stroll Aston Martin +1 lap
13 Kevin Magnussen Haas +1 lap
14 Valtteri Bottas Sauber +1 lap
15 Esteban Ocon Alpine +1 lap
16 Pierre Gasly Alpine +1 lap
17 Logan Sargeant Williams +1 lap
Zhou Guanyu Sauber DNF
Daniel Ricciardo RB DNF
Alexander Albon Williams DNF

Verstappen leads a Red Bull front row at Suzuka

Triple world champion Max Verstappen leads his Red Bull teammate Sergio Perez by just a tiny margin of 0.066 seconds to top qualifying at the 2024 Japanese Grand Prix, with Lando Norris taking a solid third for McLaren.

The Red Bull drivers were amongst just a handful of drivers to gain lap time on the second runs in Q3, where Ferrari’s challenge was unable to materialise and the Mercedes drivers ended up behind Aston Martin’s Fernando Alonso.

Verstappen led the way with a time of one minute, 28.240 seconds on the first Q3 run, where Norris was his closest rival after producing a then session-best opening sector.

But he could not replicate that on the second attempt, where Perez – leading Verstappen on the track – just got ahead of the McLaren, while the world champion in the other RB20 flew to a pole-securing one minute, 28.197 seconds – largely thanks to a fast first sector.

Behind the top trio came Carlos Sainz for Ferrari, ahead of Alonso and Oscar Piastri.

Lewis Hamilton looked to be getting close to Red Bull with his pace late in Q2 but faded to just seventh for Mercedes, with Charles Leclerc was eighth.

The Ferrari driver had a unique Q3 in producing just a single flying lap ahead of the rest going for a second attempt, as he had to use a second set of tyres to escape Q1 earlier in qualifying.

Leclerc ended up over half a second down on Verstappen’s time, but did edge out George Russell and home fan hero Yuki Tsunoda.

In Q2, Tsunoda’s improvement on his second go in the middle segment knocked out his RB teammate Daniel Ricciardo, to the delight of the Japanese crowd.

Nico Hulkenberg ended up in P12 for Haas having lost his first Q2 run to going too wide between the two parts of Spoon Curve, with Valtteri Bottas out in P13 after sitting tenth following the first attempts.

Alex Albon only completed one run in Q2 for Williams at the end of the segment and took P14 ahead of Alpine driver Esteban Ocon, who escaped Q1 for the second race in a row.

In the opening segment, running offset ahead of the rest for the final runs boosted Albon to progressing in P15, while Bottas’s last-minute improvement knocked Lance Stroll out of Q1 in P16 when Alonso was second at that stage.

Behind came Alpine’s Pierre Gasly, who matched Leclerc in the first sector on their last laps in Q1 – the Ferrari driver having to use an extra set of new softs here after initially ending up in the congested mid-pack after a poor opening sector on his Q1 first run – Haas driver Kevin Magnussen, Logan Sargeant’s Williams and Sauber’s Zhou Guanyu.

Albon, Russell and Piastri face post-qualifying investigations – Albon for possibly going too slowly at one stage late in Q1, with the latter pair for an incident when Russell’s car was released into Piastri’s path when they exited the pits at the start of the session.

So a close session between the Red Bull drivers and yet Max Verstappen came out on top. Sergio Perez produced a fine effort to get a front row spot while Lando Norris takes a solid third for McLaren.

Japanese Grand Prix, qualifying results:
1 Max Verstappen Red Bull 1:28.197
2 Sergio Perez Red Bull 1:28.263
3 Lando Norris McLaren 1:28.489
4 Carlos Sainz Ferrari 1:28.682
5 Fernando Alonso Aston Martin 1:28.686
6 Oscar Piastri McLaren 1:28.760
7 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes 1:28.766
8 Charles Leclerc Ferrari 1:28.786
9 George Russell Mercedes 1:29.008
10 Yuki Tsunoda RB 1:29.413
11 Daniel Ricciardo RB 1:29.472
12 Nico Hulkenberg Haas 1:29.494
13 Valtteri Bottas Sauber 1:29.593
14 Alexander Albon Williams 1:29.714
15 Esteban Ocon Alpine 1:29.816
16 Lance Stroll Aston Martin 1:30.024
17 Pierre Gasly Alpine 1:30.119
18 Kevin Magnussen Haas 1:30.131
19 Logan Sargeant Williams 1:30.139
20 Zhou Guanyu Sauber 1:30.143