F1 Highlights: Japanese Grand Prix 2024 Qualifying – Verstappen on pole as Hamilton disappoints

Join us for all the action on the Total Motorsport liveblog as the F1 drivers hit the Suzuka Circuit for Qualifying at the 2024 Japanese Grand Prix


Welcome to this Total-Motorsport.com live blog for Qualifying at the 2024 Japanese Grand Prix, as we continue coverage directly from the paddock at the Suzuka Circuit

As the Formula 1 season continues in the Land of the Rising Sun, join us for real-time updates, expert commentary, and behind-the-scenes insights into every thrilling moment of the action from Qualifying in Suzuka, as the fight for pole position gets underway.

In the first practice session for the Japanese Grand Prix, Red Bull’s Max Verstappen led the field with the fastest time, but Free Practice 2 was a washout, as changeable conditions in Suzuka meant we only saw 13 timed laps in the session.

Verstappen the asserted his dominance in FP3 and that remained the case in qualifying as he led a Red Bull 1-2 on the grid ahead of Sergio Perez, with Lando Norris in third.

Scroll down to view the action as it happened.

F1 2024 Japanese GP Highlights


That’s it from us for today. You can tune in again tomorrow with Total Motorsport as we’ll be back nice and early for Sunday’s Japanese GP.

Until then, it’s goodbye for now!

Hamilton: I gave it everything

Lewis Hamilton to Sky Sports F1: “I was giving it everything. The team did a really great job this past week to understand it [the car] or make the adjustments.

“It’s the first weekend I’ve not gone crazy with the setup and not been testing a bunch of things so it felt more normal, we got the car into a much nicer working window. Every lap has been really enjoyable to drive, the guys [at the front] are just a little bit faster.

“We were a second, or just over a second, off last year to Red Bull and seven tenths is better I think. Maybe if we could have some different, we could have been a tenth faster but other than that, we gave it everything.

“What it’s given us is that I know where the car is not strong enough, I can feel it in the car, and I know now to be tell them to ‘push in this particular area’. But I’m hoping the race will be stronger tomorrow.

Russell under investigation

We’re still waiting to hear whether George Russell will face punishment for a potential unsafe release from the stewards.

The Briton came out of his garage and nearly collided with Oscar Piastri, with the Australian having to take evasive action in Q1.

It’s not uncommon for teams pick up a heavy fine for this and the drivers to escape punishment. But we’ll wait to hear what the stewards say first.

George Russell during practice for 2024 Japanese Grand Prix | Mercedes / LAT Images
George Russell could face punishment. | Mercedes / LAT Images

Perez rues last sector error

Sergio Perez: “It was close today, really close with Max. It felt like a good lap.

“It was quite tricky out there actually, especially closing out the laps. It was quite easy to lose a couple of tenths into the last section and into the chicane, so we hooked it in all together. Unfortunately it was not quite enough.”

Verstappen: Pole lap wasn’t perfect

Max Verstappen: “It was quite close at the end. Overall, this track is very sensitive with the tyres. The tarmac is really aggressive and when you want to go to the limit it doesn’t always work out.

“Nevertheless, most importantly it’s to be on pole. Of course you want every lap to be perfect but around a track like this, it’s not always the case.

“Overall, a very good day and a good starting position for tomorrow and tomorrow is what counts. It’s great as a team to be P1 and P2. Hopefully we can keep that going for tomorrow.”

Norris happy with Q3 display

Lando Norris: “We had a good car all weekend. We made some good steps forward. We are trying to catch up with the Red Bulls. They did a good job and the whole team is doing a good job, so fair play to them.

“We are working hard and the hard work is paying off slowly. We will keep pushing. Today is a good start to the weekend. Tomorrow is the main job.”

Q3 Classification

1Max Verstappen (Red Bull)1:28.187
2Sergio Perez (Red Bull)+0.065
3Lando Norris (McLaren)+0.292
4Carlos Sainz (Ferrari)+0.485
5Fernando Alonso (Aston Martin)+0.489
6Oscar Piastri (McLaren)+0.563
7Lewis Hamilton (Mercedes)+0.569
8Charles Leclerc (Ferrari)+0.589
9George Russell (Mercedes)+0.811
10Yuki Tsunoda (RB)+1.216

Q3 CHECKERED FLAG: Verstappen secures pole

Perez is SO close to beating Verstappen but has a horrible final sector and it’s only P2 for the Mexican. Only six hundredths of a second separated them in the end.

Four poles in a row for Verstappen, 36 in total. The Dutchman’s best was enough in the end.

Norris can’t improve and stays P3. Hamilton stays seventh, Russell ninth. Alonso up in fifth and that’s a cracking effort from the 42-year-old.

Tsunoda will start P10 at his home race.

SUZUKA, JAPAN – APRIL 06: Max Verstappen of the Netherlands driving the (1) Oracle Red Bull Racing RB20 on track during qualifying ahead of the F1 Grand Prix of Japan at Suzuka International Racing Course on April 06, 2024 in Suzuka, Japan. (Photo by Clive Mason/Getty Images) // Getty Images / Red Bull Content Pool // SI202404060199 // Usage for editorial use only //

Leclerc separates the two Mercedes

Leclerc only gets one run on the brand new set of soft tyres, but it’s only good enough for seventh fastest.

Out come the other nine drivers for the second attempt at pole. Can anyone beat Verstappen?


Here’s the top 10 after the first runs:

1 Verstappen 1:28.740

2 Norris +0.249

3 Perez +0.365

4 Sainz +0.442

5 Piastri +0.520

6 Hamilton +0.526

7 Alonso +0.609

8 Russell +0.768

9 Tsunoda +1.951

10 Leclerc NO TIME

Verstappen blows away his rivals

Hamilton posts a 1:28.766, which is a decent lap in itself. But Verstappen goes half a second quicker… my oh my.

That’s nearly four tenths quicker than Perez in the same machinery. How does he do it?

Last over the line is Norris… and he goes onto the front row! Brilliant from the McLaren star!


It all comes down to this. The top-10 shootout is underway in Suzuka and even though Red Bull have gone 1-2 in both sessions today, Hamilton wasn’t far away from beating Verstappen’s time.

All it takes is one mistake and you’re in the gravel. Let’s see how they get on.

Q2 CHECKERED FLAG: Hamilton improves, Tsunoda through

That’s much more like it from Hamilton, who goes third and just a tenth away from the Red Bulls.

Tsunoda beats Ricciardo by five hundredths of a second to make it into Q3. The Japanese fans in Suzuka will love that!

Eliminated: 11 Ricciardo 12 Hulkenberg 13 Bottas 14 Albon 15 Ocon


Here’s the current top 10

1 Verstappen 1:28.740

2 Perez +0.012

3 Norris +0.200

4 Alonso +0.342

5 Sainz +0.359

6 Piastri +0.408

7 Leclerc +0.456

8 Hamilton +1 sec

9 Russell +1.1 secs

10 Bottas +1.2 secs

First runs: Perez closes the gap

The Red Bulls are first out onto the track and Perez has managed to get much, much closer to Verstappen. The gap between them is 12 thousandths of a second. Power of the tow, or just a big improvement from the Mexican?

Norris goes purple in the first sector and ends up just two tenths shy of the leading pair. Nice lap, Lando!

Hamilton and Russell are more than a second down on Verstappen’s 1:28.740 lap, but they’re on older tyres.

Sergio Perez of Red Bull ahead of 2024 Japanese Grand Prix | Getty Images / Red Bull Content Pool
Sergio Perez of Red Bull ahead of 2024 Japanese Grand Prix | Getty Images / Red Bull Content Pool


We’re back out on track for the next 15 minutes of Q2.

From what we saw from Q1, we could be in a very close battle for the top-10 shootout.

Q1 CHECKERED FLAG: Verstappen quickest, Stroll out!

That’s better from Leclerc, who goes P4 and within four tenths of Verstappen. But what about those behind him? Hulkenberg, Ricciardo and Tsunoda all make huge improvements… and then Ocon goes P13.

But here comes Valtteri Bottas, who goes up to eighth! What a lap from the Finn – and that means Lance Stroll is OUT of Q1!

Eliminated: 16 Stroll 17 Gasly 18 Magnussen 19 Sargeant 20 Zhou

Q1 – 3 MINS TO GO: Bottom five under pressure

Pierre Gasly, Nico Hulkenberg, Logan Sargeant, Kevin Magnussen and Zhou Guanyu are in the bottom five as it stands.

Alex Albon, the driver at risk in P15, is out early to avoid the Q1 traffic coming out of the pits. He may well be fuelled to get two runs on the soft tyre. And he lifts himself up to P11!

Verstappen on top

Max Verstappen has just gone fastest and put four tenths between himself and Sergio Perez. That’s a cracking lap – a 1:28.866 – to send him to the top of the timings in Q1.

But here’s a surprise: Piastri goes quicker than Sainz, Hamilton, Russell and Leclerc. That’s quite a statement from the Australian, who started on the front row in 2023. He clearly likes it here.

And then Fernando Alonso, out of nowhere, goes even faster than Perez. P2 at the moment for the Aston Martin veteran!

Max Verstappen of Red Bull during final practice ahead of 2024 Japanese Grand Prix | Getty Images / Red Bull Content Pool
Max Verstappen of Red Bull during final practice ahead of 2024 Japanese Grand Prix | Getty Images / Red Bull Content Pool

Piastri and Russell nearly collide

Wow. That was a close one between George Russell and Piastri in the pits as the rest of the cars come out of the garages.

Just wonder if the stewards will take a look at that for a potential unsafe release. Piastri called it “really dangerous” and he had to take evasive action to avoid a collision.

First lap time posted

Kevin Magnussen has the freedom of the track as he heads out in the Haas and knocks in a 1:31.203.


It’s time for qualifying! The 20 drivers have 18 minutes (and a little bit extra) to avoid being one of five eliminated.

Will there be any shocks in Q1? Let’s find out.

A birthday pole?

Oscar Piastri is 23 today. Happy birthday, Oscar!

What would be his birthday wish when he blows out the candles? Pole position, of course.

If he managed that, he would join a very exclusive club. Only three F1 drivers have taken pole position on their birthday: Rene Arnoux at the 1981 French GP, Nigel Mansell at the 1987 Hungarian GP and Ralf Schumacher again in France in 2001.

Oscar Piastri on the podium after 2023 Japanese GP | McLaren F1 Team

Weather update

Suzuka is notorious for having an untimely downpour and causing havoc for the teams. Not today, though.

Conditions are largely dry with 18C air temperature and 56 per cent humidity.

With winds of around 8mph, the drivers should be able to get around safely without the rear end dropping out on them.

Leclerc left fuming on radio

It’s safe to say Charles Leclerc was NOT happy in FP3 with his team.

They left it late coming out of the garage and apparently too late for the Monegasque to get another qualifying simulation lap in.

He said on the radio: “Honestly guys, I don’t get it. What are doing staying in the garage? Oh my god. We are FP3, we had two laps, two laps… come on.”

What happened in FP3?

In what feels like the first time in a long time, Mercedes were the quickest team behind Red Bull with Max Verstappen topping the session.

Lewis Hamilton is clearly feeling better in the car this weekend and that was reflected by his P3 in FP3.

Have a read of our session report from earlier today while we wait for qualifying to start.

Good morning!

Hello and welcome to Total Motorsport’s coverage of qualifying for the Japanese GP.

Will Max Verstappen make it four poles in a row? Grab a cup of tea and stick with us as we bring you live updates from Suzuka.

2024 Japanese GP Session Times and Dates

The F1 season continues with the 2024 Japanese Grand Prix. Below, find the complete schedule for the race weekend, including session times for F1 fans in the USA, the UK, Canada, as well as in Australia.

SessionUK (BST)USA (ET)USA (PT)Aus. (AEST)
Friday, April 5
Practice 103:3022:30 (Apr 4)19:30 (Apr 4)13:30
Practice 207:0002:0023:00 (Apr 4)17:00
Saturday, April 6
Practice 303:3022:30 (Apr 5)19:30 (Apr 5)13:30
Qualifying07:0002:0023:00 (Apr 5)17:00
Sunday, April 7
Race06:0001:0022:00 (Apr 6)16:00
Joe Krishnan
Joe Krishnan
Joe Krishnan is an NCTJ-qualified journalist who has worked for a number of media organisations, including the Daily Express, The Mirror, Evening Standard, The Independent and Bleacher Report. Joe has been following F1 since when he watched Mika Hakkinen clinch the 1999 drivers' championship, and his first taste of real-life racing action was watching David Coulthard spin off into the gravel at the British Grand Prix at Silverstone in 2001.
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