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Verstappen on pole for Japanese Grand Prix but faces investigation

Max Verstappen starts P1 for the Japanese Grand Prix, narrowly ahead of the Ferrari duo of Charles Leclerc and Carlos Sainz Jr.

Max Verstappen qualified fastest for the Formula 1 Japanese Grand Prix, but faces a stewards investigation that could threaten his pole position. In Q3, an incident with Lando Norris at 130R caught the stewards attention, and will be investigated after the session. A 1m:29.304s on his first run in the final segment was enough to secure Verstappen a fifth pole of the season, with Ferrari rival Charles Leclerc just 0.010s behind the Red Bull. Carlos Sainz Jr was third ahead of Sergio Perez and Esteban Ocon.

Nobody improves

Verstappen suffered car damage in the first sector on his final attempt, and but did not require improvement as Leclerc shaved 0.243s off his first run time, but was 0.253s behind in the first place. Sainz, who has looked the better Ferrari driver was 0.057s behind the Red Bull and will line up third alongside Perez. Ocon was best of the rest in fifth, riding alongside Lewis Hamilton - who leapfrogged teammate George Russell on the second runs, having been 0.001s behind. Fernando Alonso was seventh for Alpine ahead of Russell as Sebastian Vettel took ninth for Aston Martin in his first Q3 slot since Azerbaijan in June. Norris rounded out the top 10 for McLaren.

Ricciardo just outside Q3

In the second segment of Qualifying, Daniel Ricciardo was the first driver to fall in a tight session. During the late flurry of laps, Vettel improved to a 1m:30.656s to maintain his record of always making Q3 at Suzuka. Ricciardo posted a 1m:30.659s effort - just 0.003s down on his former teammate. Elsewhere, 2019 race winner Valtteri Bottas was dumped out in P12, with Yuki Tsunoda starting his first Japanese GP in 13th. Fellow Suzuka rookies Zhou Guanyu (14th) and Mick Schumacher (15th) were also eliminated. Up front, Perez set the fastest time and became the first driver under the 90s mark on a 1m:29.925s, with Alonso slotting in P2.

Gasly dumped out in Q1

Throughout the session, Pierre Gasly complained on brake problems on his AlphaTauri - and his mood was not further improved after being booted out in Q1. The 2023-Alpine bound driver was only 17th fastest, just 0.011s behind Alex Albon who was the first eliminee. Albon had a lap time deleted for track limits, but improved to take 16th, with Kevin Magnussen, Lance Stroll and Nicholas Latifi also taking early baths. Latifi is also carrying a five-place grid drop for crashing into Zhou Guanyu last week in Singapore. Up front, Verstappen's 1m:30.224s effort secured him P1 in the segment as both Mercedes used Medium tyres on their initial runs, before reverting to the universal Soft for the second, finishing P6 (Russell) and P8 (Hamilton).

# Driver Points
# Team Points
Full standings