F1 Japanese Grand Prix LIVE: Qualifying updates and results at Suzuka

F1 Japanese Grand Prix LIVE: Qualifying updates and results at Suzuka

Max Verstappen set a blistering pace to blow away the challenge of Oscar Piastri and Lando Norris and take pole position for the Japanese Grand Prix.

Verstappen’s record 10-race winning run and Red Bull’s unbeaten season came to an end in Singapore last weekend.

The Dutchman topped all three practice sessions at Suzuka to suggest the Milton Keynes-based team had banished the issues that they experienced in the city-state.

And Verstappen was imperious around the high-speed corner circuit – where Lewis Hamilton warned the Red Bull would be “phenomenal” – taking pole by a massive 0.581 seconds ahead of Piastri.

Follow live updates from the Japanese Grand Prix with The Independent

F1 JAPANESE GRAND PRIX - QUALIFYING

Yuki Tsunoda after qualifying P9 at his home race:

10:22 , Kieran Jackson

“I was waiting for long time, but I can feel from social media the weight of the Japanese fans. It’s quite good. I can now push as fast as I can be.

“Each qualifying, in each in-lap, you see the amount of claps! The fans were happier!

“The updates are working, we’ve got more confidence than usual. We were expecting around P11 for qualifying, team did a fantastic job. The car was great, super fun to drive. Liam in P11 so it shows the car is working well.

“I’ve had a lot of unfortunate moments the last grands prix, but it seems like it’s going to be a challenging race. Degradation will be quite a lot, I’m not worried about race-pace - but just put it all together and get points.”

Max Verstappen storms to Japanese Grand Prix pole ahead of impressive Oscar Piastri

10:06 , Kieran Jackson

Race report

Max Verstappen set a blistering pace to blow away the challenge of Oscar Piastri and Lando Norris and take pole position for the Japanese Grand Prix.

Verstappen’s record 10-race winning run and Red Bull’s unbeaten season came to an end in Singapore last weekend.

The Dutchman topped all three practice sessions at Suzuka to suggest the Milton Keynes-based team had banished the issues that they experienced in the city-state.

And Verstappen was imperious around the high-speed corner circuit – where Lewis Hamilton warned the Red Bull would be “phenomenal” – taking pole by a massive 0.581 seconds ahead of Piastri.

Max Verstappen storms to Japanese GP pole ahead of impressive Oscar Piastri

Mercedes’ Lewis Hamilton after qualifying P7:

09:52 , Kieran Jackson

“Yesterday was a bad day. Every weekend there’s at least one day. We did good work overnight, the car felt nice today. In qualifying I was giving it everything but that seven-tenths deficit in sector one... and so we’re a long way down on that. For me that’s clearly concept and we’ve got to change that for next year.

“It’s a steep curve to close for next year. We’ve seen what Aston and McLaren have done, I’m happy with my lap - it’s just not quicker than the others.

“I was really happy with qualifying - for a track like this, it’s one of the hardest in the world, the car was a little bit difficult but it’s still an enjoyable lap.

“I just hope for a better race tomorrow.”

The top-3 in Suzuka qualifying!

09:39 , Kieran Jackson

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(Getty Images)

George Russell, after qualifying P8:

09:26 , Kieran Jackson

“It’s a fair representation of where we are on circuits like this. We struggle to cover all aspects. No big surprise, a bit of a shock to the system but when you think about it rationally it’s what you’d expect.

“It’s going to be challenging, the gaps will close up but not substantially.”

McLaren boss Zak Brown:

09:14 , Kieran Jackson

‘The team is executing and taking advantage of every inch on the track. Tomorrow is exciting, strategy will be at play.

On Piastri: “He’s driving great, it’s exactly why we signed him up for another three years. Our driver pairing is awesome - everyone is doing a first class job and everyone is flying.

“I’m always cautiously optimistic but you’ve got to give hats off to mechanics back in the factory.

“It’s definitely doable [to catch Aston in P4], we have to chase down Fernando. We need some big points races.”

Karun Chandok, speaking about Max Verstappen’s lap:

09:03 , Kieran Jackson

“That was one of the best laps we’ve seen in F1 history. That’s a driver who’s ahead of the car. Christian said it was an all-time lap and it was, without Max in the car they’d be on the second row!”

Red Bull boss Christian Horner:

08:56 , Kieran Jackson

“I think we’ve seen something special, that turn five - that first sector was mighty!

“That first run looked good enough but then he went quicker again. An absolutely mind-blowing performance.

“Singapore was an anomaly for us, the car has always been strong at this type of circuit. Today was an awesome performance.

“P5 for Checo, he’ll have strong race-pace - he’ll be OK.”

Lando Norris after qualifying third:

08:46 , Kieran Jackson

“A very good day for us, great job from Oscar today - and as usual Max. I was pretty happy with my laps, it’s so quick around here. I’m happy, it’s a good day but we need good decisions tomorrow.

“Some of the most amazing McLaren stories come from Japan. We want to continue that tradition but Max is doing a very good job!”

Oscar Piastri after qualifying second:

08:37 , Kieran Jackson

“The first lap was pretty solid, I was pretty happy with it. Happy to end it in P2, it’s been a really good weekend for the team so far. Updates on the car are quick. Happy to be second and third, very happy.

“It’s first time I’ve started on the front row in a while, only one car to overtake so I’ll try and make that happen.”

Max Verstappen after qualifying on pole:

08:29 , Kieran Jackson

“Thank you to the fans, everyone being so passionate about Formula 1. Incredible weekend so far, especially in qualifying when you can push it to the limit.

“We had a bad weekend in Singapore but the preparation we had, I felt it would be a good track. From lap one, it’s been really nice. To be on pole here is fantastic.”

TOP-10 IN QUALIFYING:

08:22 , Kieran Jackson

1) Max Verstappen

2) Oscar Piastri

3) Lando Norris

4) Charles Leclerc

5) Sergio Perez

6) Carlos Sainz

7) Lewis Hamilton

8) George Russell

9) Yuki Tsunoda

10) Fernando Alonso

Oscar Piastri:

08:16 , Kieran Jackson

“Well done everybody, first lap was pretty good. Thank you everyone.”

That’s the Aussie’s best qualifying in Formula 1... at a track he’s never driven at!

Max Verstappen on pole position for the Japanese Grand Prix!

08:16 , Kieran Jackson

Max Verstappen goes even quicker with a 1:28:877 to take pole at Suzuka! A stunning lap!

He’s five-tenths quicker than Oscar Piastri in second - what a brilliant result for McLaren! Lando Norris in third, too.

4-10: Leclerc, Perez, Sainz, Hamilton, Russell, Tsunoda, Alonso

“Very good, 28. That first sector was really enjoyable!” Verstappen says.

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(Getty Images)

George Russell goes fourth-fastest

08:11 , Kieran Jackson

George Russell goes ahead of his team-mate for fourth, as the Ferraris exit the pit laneFernando Alonso P6.

3:00 to go - can anyone get near Max Verstappen with their final run?

Max Verstappen fastest with McLaren next in line!

08:09 , Kieran Jackson

Hell of a first lap by Max Verstappen - he sets the benchmark with a 1:29:012!

Four-tenths ahead of Oscar Piastri in second and Lando Norris in third. Sergio Perez fourth, with Lewis Hamilton fifth.

Both Ferrari drivers not out there yet - with only one set of new softs, they’re going to wait until the end of the session to set their time!

1-10: Verstappen, Piastri, Norris, Perez, Hamilton, Tsunoda, Russell, Alonso, Leclerc, Sainz

6:00 to go...

Q3 underway!

08:04 , Kieran Jackson

We’re underway with the final session of qualifying!

Who will be on pole position in Suzuka?!

10 drivers involved: Verstappen, Perez, Sainz, Leclerc, Hamilton, Russell, Norris, Piastri, Tsunoda, Alonso

Max Verstappen straight out on track... is it his to lose?

Yuki Tsunoda through to Q3 - and the stands delighted about it!

08:02 , Kieran Jackson

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(Getty Images)
 (Getty Images)
(Getty Images)
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(Getty Images)

Fernando Alonso sneaks through in 10th!

07:57 , Kieran Jackson

Fernando Alonso makes it by 0.043 seconds to Liam Lawson in 11th! The grandstands delighted, too, with Yuki Tsunoda in Q3 at his home race!

In the end, Lewis Hamilton was comfortably through in P4!

Bottom-five and out in Q2 (11-15): Lawson, Gasly, Albon, Ocon, Magnussen

Top-3: Leclerc, Verstappen, Sainz

Now time for the top-10 shootout!

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(Getty Images)

Lewis Hamilton in P10 ahead of final laps

07:53 , Kieran Jackson

And Hamilton is only 0.003 seconds ahead of Liam Lawson in 11th.

Cue chaos of the final laps!

Current bottom-five (11-15): Lawson, Alonso, Ocon, Gasly, Magnussen

2:00 to go. And Oscar Piastri has stopped at the end of the pit lane, with his team running down to the end! Not sure what’s happened... maybe they think he’s safe in P2!

Oscar Piastri goes second-fastest

07:49 , Kieran Jackson

The Australian quicker than his McLaren team-mate after the first set of runs to go second-fastest!

The early, provisional bottom-five (11-15): Alonso, Ocon Gasly, Albon, Magnussen

6:00 to go. Lewis Hamilton teetering in P9...

Max Verstappen fastest of those out there

07:47 , Kieran Jackson

On used soft tyres, Max Verstappen goes fastest with a 1:29:964, Sergio Perez second three-tenths down.

Around half the cars out there at the moment setting times - Mercedes only P6 and P7 early on, they seem far from safe!

Here come the McLarens...

Q2 underway!

07:42 , Kieran Jackson

Q2 starts - 15 minutes to discover which cars will be in the top-10 shootout at Suzuka!

The only driver who has reached every Q3 this season? Fernando Alonso... but that looks to be in a bit of danger in Japan, the Aston Martin pace doesn’t seem to be there!

Alex Albon escapes!

07:35 , Kieran Jackson

Right at the end, Alex Albon gets through... but Lance Stroll is out!

Bottom-five (16-20) and out in Q1: Bottas, Stroll, Hulkenberg, Zhou, Sargeant

Fernando Alonso was squeaky too in P14!

Top-3: Verstappen, Norris, Leclerc

Q2 coming right up...

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(Getty Images)

Liam Lawson goes seventh fastest!

07:31 , Kieran Jackson

Some interesting first few laps - the Ferraris go third and fourth, but Liam Lawson has surprised with his first lap in seventh!

Current bottom-five (16-20): Bottas, Hulkenberg, Sargeant, Albon, Gasly

Two minutes to go - expect some traffic here!

Q1 back underway!

07:23 , Kieran Jackson

The two Ferraris of Carlos Sainz and Charles Leclerc lead the pack out as Q1 resumes!

Logan Sargeant’s car has been removed from the main straight - he thankfully walked away all OK.

19 cars in the running now...

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(Getty Images)

Williams boss James Vowles after Sargeant’s crash:

07:16 , Kieran Jackson

“Devastating. That’s game over. The disappointing element is the work overnight, Logan built up this weekend and had some good pace but couldn’t bring it all together.

“For a number of races, Logan’s been on a old aerodynamic package. We have enough parts to rebuild the car but it does mean we’ll have to divert stuff elsewhere.”

RED FLAG - Logan Sargeant crashes!

07:11 , Kieran Jackson

Oh wow - Logan Sargeant has slammed his Williams into the wall at the final corner coming onto the main straight!

The American, who retired last week in Singapore, has endured another nightmare scenario here!

He just lost control of his car, simple as that, and the second it went on the grass - he was nothing but a passenger!

Session stopped at 9:05!

Max Verstappen fastest, with Lando Norris second

07:10 , Kieran Jackson

It doesn’t matter too much in this session, but only two-tenths separate Max Verstappen in first and Lando Norris in second - promising signs for Q3!

Only 10 drivers have set laps so far, 10 minutes to go!

AlphaTauri confirm driver pairing for 2024 F1 grid

07:03 , Kieran Jackson

AlphaTauri will retain Yuki Tsunoda and Daniel Ricciardo for the 2024 Formula 1 season.

Red Bull’s sister team had a difficult choice between the duo and Liam Lawson, who has impressed filling in for the injured Ricciardo in the last three races.

But the New Zealander will return to Red Bull in a reserve role - with Ricciardo’s full-time return to F1 confirmed.

More below:

AlphaTauri confirm driver pairing for 2024 F1 grid

Q1 underway in Suzuka!

07:01 , Kieran Jackson

A long queue at the end of the pit-lane as we get underway with Q1 in Suzuka!

18 minutes where we will lose the slowest five drivers of the lot!

Lance Stroll and Liam Lawson - who both struggled in FP3 - are the first cars out there.

F1 qualifying at the Japanese Grand Prix!

06:56 , Kieran Jackson

We’re five minutes away from the action starting at Suzuka!

Max Verstappen is the undeniable favourite for pole but could the likes of Ferrari or McLaren pull off a shock over Red Bull?

Live updates to follow...

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(Getty Images)

A sudden drop off or just a blip? Max Verstappen provides the answer

06:52 , Kieran Jackson

Weekend preview by Kieran Jackson

What made last Sunday’s pulsating Singapore Grand Prix so captivating was a genuine battle at the front: a battle for first, from lights out to the chequered flag. But it was only made possible by a clanger of a weekend from runaway constructors leaders Red Bull, whose perfect win-streak in 2023 came to an abrupt end amid the tight twists and turns of the city-state. Yet briskly onto Japan, a more conventional racetrack, would the status quo be restored?

It certainly seems so. Judging by initial signs from Friday practice at Suzuka – a driver-favourite on the calendar due to its heart-shredding high-speed corners – it would be a major shock if Max Verstappen did not claim his 11th win in 12 races come Sunday. The flying Dutchman, closing in on the home-straight in his irrepressible march to a hat-trick of world titles, was fastest in both free practice sessions. And by some distance too.

Six-tenths of a second in FP1, narrowed down to three-tenths by FP2. Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc and McLaren’s Lando Norris, in consistency unexpected from practice, were the next-best in both sessions.

A drop off or just a blip? Max Verstappen provides the answer in Japan practice

Lewis Hamilton says ‘something’s up’ at Red Bull – if Max Verstappen struggles in Japan

06:43 , Kieran Jackson

Lewis Hamilton expects Red Bull to return to their imperious form of 2023 this weekend in Japan, insisting “something’s up” if that doesn’t prove to be the case.

Red Bull had won 14 from 14 races prior to last weekend’s Singapore Grand Prix but struggled in the twists and turns of the city-state, with both cars failing to qualify for Q3 and Max Verstappen finishing only fifth in Sunday’s race.

However, a return to a more traditional track at Suzuka this weekend is expected to coincide with business as usual for Christian Horner’s team.

Max Verstappen cannot secure his third-straight world title in Japan this weekend but is the favourite once again, with seven-time world champion Hamilton expecting Red Bull to be back on top by some margin.

Full quotes below:

Lewis Hamilton says ‘something’s up’ at Red Bull – if Max Verstappen struggles again

Could Lando Norris claim a surprise pole at Suzuka?

06:31 , Kieran Jackson

Qualifying is less than half-an-hour away now!

Ferrari finally find their chief strategist – and it’s Carlos Sainz

06:14 , Kieran Jackson

Analysis by Kieran Jackson

The twitchiness on the Ferrari pit wall was palpable. With five laps to go at the end of Sunday’s thrilling Singapore Grand Prix, less than two seconds separated race leader Carlos Sainz, in first, from Lewis Hamilton in fourth. McLaren’s Lando Norris, in second, was closing in, within the critical one-second DRS range. The warning from Sainz’s race engineer Riccardo Adami was quick: “Lando, 0.8 (seconds) behind with DRS.”

But the Spaniard was a step ahead, deploying a meticulous balancing act which ultimately secured his second Formula One victory. “Yeah, it’s on purpose,” he replied. At which point it all made sense.

For a team chasing its first victory in over a year, often maligned for their clangers in the strategy department, all it took was a clear sense of thought and direction from the driver in the cockpit. Sainz was not overly concerned with Norris’ pace behind him. On the contrary, the double threat posed by Mercedes’ George Russell and Hamilton, lapping over a second-a-lap quicker on fresh tyres in third and fourth, was the main focus of his thinking.

What a fine balancing act it was. Keep Norris close enough behind him – one second – to give him a crucial speed boost on the straights to defend from Russell, but not so close that Norris himself could make a move for the top spot. In the end, it was a masterstroke which worked to perfection.

Full piece below:

Ferrari finally find their chief strategist – and it’s Carlos Sainz

Here are the Constructors’ Championship Standings:

05:59 , Kieran Jackson

1) Red Bull - 597 points

2) Mercedes - 289 points

3) Ferrari - 265 points

4) Aston Martin - 217 points

5) McLaren - 139 points

6) Alpine - 81 points

7) Williams - 21 points

8) Haas - 12 points

9) Alfa Romeo - 10 points

10) AlphaTauri - 5 points

George Russell insists 2023 has been his ‘best season ever’ despite Singapore crash

05:48 , Kieran Jackson

George Russell believes this season has been his best ever in terms of performance as he refused to dwell on his last-lap crash in Singapore.

Russell put his Mercedes into the barriers as he chased down Lando Norris and race winner Carlos Sainz on the draining street circuit.

The 25-year-old was visibly emotional afterwards following a strong weekend where he qualified second and held the edge over his team-mate Lewis Hamilton but is keen to move on quickly.

“In terms of pure performance I feel that this has been my best season ever,” Russell said ahead of the Japanese Grand Prix.

George Russell insists 2023 has been his ‘best season ever’ despite Singapore crash

Driver Standings ahead of the Japanese Grand Prix:

05:38 , Kieran Jackson

1) Max Verstappen - 374 points

2) Sergio Perez - 223 points

3) Lewis Hamilton - 180 points

4) Fernando Alonso - 170 points

5) Carlos Sainz - 142 points

6) Charles Leclerc - 123 points

7) George Russell - 109 points

8) Lando Norris - 97 points

9) Lance Stroll - 47 points

10) Pierre Gasly - 45 points

11) Oscar Piastri - 42 points

12) Esteban Ocon - 36 points

13) Alex Albon - 21 points

14) Nico Hulkenberg - 9 points

15) Valtteri Bottas - 6 points

16) Zhou Guanyu - 4 points

17) Yuki Tsunoda - 3 points

18) Kevin Magnussen - 3 points

19) Liam Lawson - 2 points

20) Logan Sargeant - 0 points

21) Nyck de Vries - 0 points

22) Daniel Ricciardo - 0 points

NOTE: Max Verstappen cannot win the world championship this weekend.

A sudden drop off or just a blip? Max Verstappen provides the answer

05:35 , Kieran Jackson

Weekend preview by Kieran Jackson

What made last Sunday’s pulsating Singapore Grand Prix so captivating was a genuine battle at the front: a battle for first, from lights out to the chequered flag. But it was only made possible by a clanger of a weekend from runaway constructors leaders Red Bull, whose perfect win-streak in 2023 came to an abrupt end amid the tight twists and turns of the city-state. Yet briskly onto Japan, a more conventional racetrack, would the status quo be restored?

It certainly seems so. Judging by initial signs from Friday practice at Suzuka – a driver-favourite on the calendar due to its heart-shredding high-speed corners – it would be a major shock if Max Verstappen did not claim his 11th win in 12 races come Sunday. The flying Dutchman, closing in on the home-straight in his irrepressible march to a hat-trick of world titles, was fastest in both free practice sessions. And by some distance too.

Six-tenths of a second in FP1, narrowed down to three-tenths by FP2. Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc and McLaren’s Lando Norris, in consistency unexpected from practice, were the next-best in both sessions.

A drop off or just a blip? Max Verstappen provides the answer in Japan practice

F1 qualifying at the Japanese Grand Prix!

05:31 , Kieran Jackson

Good morning and welcome to The Independent’s live coverage of the Japanese Grand Prix this weekend!

We had a thriller in Singapore last week, with Carlos Sainz claiming his second win in Formula 1 ahead of Lando Norris in second and Lewis Hamilton in third, ending Max Verstappen’s win streak.

Could we see the drama continue this weekend at Suzuka?

Today is qualifying, which starts at 7am (BST) this morning!

 (Getty Images)
(Getty Images)