HomeSportsVerstappen took pole position.


Runaway championship leader Max Verstappen took pole position for the Japanese Grand Prix on Saturday as he looks to take a big step towards a third consecutive title this weekend.

The Red Bull driver topped the timesheets with a fastest time of 1min 28.877sec in dry conditions at Suzuka – 0.581sec ahead of McLaren’s Oscar Piastri.

Piastri’s teammate Lando Norris finished third.

Verstappen, who leads teammate and nearest rival Sergio Perez by 151 points in the championship standings, cannot win the title on Sunday, but a favorable result could set him up to seal the deal at next month’s Qatar Grand Prix.

He is looking to bounce back from a disappointing fifth place finish at last weekend’s Singapore Grand Prix, ending his record of 10 consecutive wins.

“Incredible weekend so far, especially in qualifying when you can really push it – it felt really good,” Verstappen said.

“From our preparation I already knew it would be a good track.

“You never really know how good it’s going to be, but it’s been really good since the beginning.”

Verstappen produced his best performance at Suzuka this week, fastest in all three practice sessions.

He wasted little time in laying down a marker in qualifying, highlighting the brute power of his car on the high-speed Suzuka circuit.

Charles Leclerc qualified fourth ahead of Pérez and Ferrari teammate Carlos Sainz, who won in Singapore last week.

Mercedes pair Lewis Hamilton and George Russell finished seventh and eighth respectively.

Japan’s Yuki Tsunoda, who signed a new deal to race for AlphaTauri again next season, finished ninth in his home Grand Prix, ahead of Aston Martin’s Fernando Alonso.

Liam Lawson, Pierre Gasly, Alex Albon, Esteban Ocon and Kevin Magnussen all crashed out in Q2.

The first qualifying session was red flagged when Logan Sargent crashed his Williams at the final corner.

The American escaped unhurt but his car was seriously damaged after hitting the grass and barriers.

Sargent was eliminated in Q1 along with Zhou Guanyu, Valtteri Bottas, Nico Hulkenberg and Lance Stroll.

Stroll was returning to action after missing the Singapore race following a major crash in qualifying.

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