Verstappen pips Perez to pole by 0.066s in Japan

Max Verstappen has continued his run of pole positions in 2024 by again taking P1 on the grid for the Japanese Grand Prix, with the Dutchman joined on the front row by Red Bull team mate Sergio Perez.

After initially setting the fastest time during the first runs of Q3 with a lap of 1:28.240s, the world champion improved on his final effort to a 1:28.197s. There was a valiant attempt from Perez, but the Mexican’s time was ultimately 0.066s off Verstappen’s, leaving him in P2.

Lando Norris took third, with Carlos Sainz putting himself into P4 off the back of his victory last time out in Australia. Fernando Alonso was the lead Aston Martin in fifth, ahead of birthday boy Oscar Piastri in sixth.

Lewis Hamilton will share the fourth row with future Ferrari team mate Charles Leclerc, ahead of George Russell in ninth – who is set to be investigated by the stewards for a pit lane incident in Q1 – while Yuki Tsunoda rounds out the top 10 at his home event.

RB’s Daniel Ricciardo was pushed into the drop zone at the end of Q2 by team mate Tsunoda, with the Australian set to start from P11, while Nico Hulkenberg joins him on the sixth row in P12.

Valtteri Bottas was the lead Kick Sauber in P13, ahead of the Williams of Alex Albon, as Esteban Ocon claimed P15 in the Alpine on a weekend where the squad have brought their first updates of the season.

There was a surprise in Q1 as Lance Stroll was pushed into the elimination zone, meaning that the second Aston Martin will line up in P16. Pierre Gasly also exited the session, with the Frenchman yet to progress to Q2 so far this season.

Home favourite Yuki Tsunoda will start from P10.

Kevin Magnussen was unable to get his Haas out of the first segment of qualifying and will start from P18, while the Williams of Logan Sargeant and Kick Sauber’s Zhou Guanyu ended the day back in P19 and P20 respectively.


It was a quiet start to qualifying as the session got under way at 15:00 local time – fortunately in dry conditions after Friday afternoon’s rain-affected FP2 session – with Magnussen the sole car on track initially as he headed out on the soft tyre, having made changes to his set-up from FP3.

The action picked up a few minutes later as a queue of drivers formed in the pit lane, with each looking to create a gap for themselves before getting out on track.

Amongst this, Russell came under fire from Piastri when the Mercedes was released into the path of the McLaren, prompting Piastri to call the move “very dangerous”. The incident will be investigated after the session.

Verstappen set the early pace as the first runs on the soft tyres came in, with the Dutchman’s lap of 1:28.866s nearly half a second clear of team mate Perez, before Alonso then impressively split the Red Bulls with a time 0.388s off Verstappen’s.

Lance Stroll failed to reach Q2 while his teammate Alonso qualified P5.

Following a brief lull in the action, much of the field – barring the top eight, with the exception of Norris who had a scruffy first lap – headed out again as the clock ticked down into the final minutes of Q1, with several drivers at risk of an early exit.

Leclerc had only managed P10 in the first runs, but managed to put himself out of danger by climbing up to P4.

Nico Hulkenberg hauled himself out of the drop zone by going up to P12, while Ocon and Ricciardo also improved. This pushed Stroll down to P16, marking a surprise exit for the Aston Martin given Alonso’s P2 lap.

Gasly’s qualifying woes continued as he again exited in Q1, despite Alpine running updates this weekend, while Magnussen, Sargeant and Zhou were also eliminated from the session in P18, P19 and P20 respectively.

Knocked out: Stroll, Gasly, Magnussen, Sargeant, Zhou


The Red Bull duo of Verstappen and Perez were the first to hit the track as the green light came on for Q2, though soon found themselves being confronted by a flurry of cars leaving the pit lane as the pair looked to start their flying laps.

Alpine reached Q2 for just the second time this season.

There were incredibly fine margins between the two in the initial runs, with Perez just 0.012s away from Verstappen’s lap of 1:28.740s as the track continued to evolve. Norris was two-tenths off in third, while Alonso’s good run continued in fourth.

Most at the front of the pack were running fresh tyres, though Mercedes had opted for used and as such found themselves at risk as the clock ticked down, meaning that both had to go out again as the second runs began.

Hulkenberg, meanwhile, was also in trouble after having a lap deleted owing to track limits. The top seven in the order remained in the pits, but it was all to play for as the remaining eight cars tried to get themselves into Q3. The Silver Arrows cars both made it through, with Hamilton going up to third.

While Hulkenberg initially squeezed into P10, Ricciardo pushed him into the drop zone – before the Australian was then knocked out himself by RB team mate Tsunoda by just 0.055s. Also exiting were Bottas, Albon and Ocon.

Knocked out: Ricciardo, Hulkenberg, Bottas, Albon, Ocon


Hamilton was keen to head out onto the circuit as Q3 began, with the seven-time world champion and Mercedes team mate Russell both going out to put an early lap time in.

Lando Norris will hope to prevent a Red Bull 1-2 tomorrow.

Every driver entered the session with two sets of soft tyres, barring Tsunoda and Leclerc. As most of the pack hit the track with the exception of Leclerc, Verstappen soared into provisional pole with a lap of 1m 28.240s, while Norris slotted into P2 ahead of Perez.

As the majority of the field remained in the pits before their final runs, Leclerc emerged onto an empty track for his effort. The Ferrari could only manage P7, just as his rivals readied themselves for their decisive flying laps.

Perez looked to be on course for an impressive time, but the Mexican ultimately couldn’t beat Verstappen, who clinched pole by 0.066s from his team mate.

Norris was the closest challenger to the Red Bulls in third, with Sainz ending the session in fourth as many drivers struggled to greatly improve on their first efforts. Piastri claimed P6, while Hamilton went P7 to push Leclerc down to eighth.

Russell took P9, with Mercedes’ pace not looking quite as strong as it had earlier in the weekend, while Tsunoda filled the final position in the top 10.

The 2024 Japanese Grand Prix is set to begin at 14:00 local time on Sunday (6am GMT). Verstappen is looking to make it three wins in a row in Japan and it looks like he will take some stopping.

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