Red Bull’s Max Verstappen would claim pole for the 2022 Japanese Grand Prix, with the Dutchman beating the Ferrari pair of Charles Leclerc and Carlos Sainz by less than a tenth of a second.
The Dutchman was under investigation by the race stewards following an incident that almost saw him crash into the McLaren of Lando Norris but has avoided receiving a grid penalty, and was reprimanded instead.
Sergio Perez, Esteban Ocon, and Lewis Hamilton completed the top six.
Q3: Verstappen claims provisional pole
The final part of qualifying would see the cars come onto the circuit almost immediately with the Red Bull drivers taking their time to get everything in order as the Alpine of Ocon took a different approach storming past the Red Bulls.
As the drivers completed their first runs it would be Verstappen who would set the quickest time. The Dutchman though would have an incident on his warm lap, almost spinning into the path the McLaren of Norris.
Leclerc and Sainz would qualify second and third with Perez in fourth and Fernando Alonso continuing his good form to qualify fifth.
Three drivers would set their lap times on used tyres, the Mercedes pair of George Russell and Hamilton in seventh and eighth and Ocon in ninth.
Aston Martin’s Sebastian Vettel would set the sixth fastest lap time of the session with the German running out of sync and setting just a single lap.
In the end, Verstappen would claim pole for Formula 1’s return to Japan with the Dutchman pipping the Ferrari pair of Leclerc and Sainz by 0.010 and 0.057 of a second respectively.
Verstappen though would have to meet the stewards following the session for the aforementioned incident with the Dutchman facing a possible penalty.
Q2: Vettel makes it into Q3 by the scruff of his neck
The Ferrari drivers would get underway in Q2 with Sainz picking up from where he left off, shading his teammate Leclerc by 0.42 of a second.
Verstappen would then reclaim his place at the head of the time sheets, with Alpine’s Ocon putting in a stunning lap to go fourth. McLaren’s Daniel Ricciardo would finally start to look at home in the McLaren with the Australian enjoying one of his best qualifying sessions this year in fifth.
Yuki Tsunoda would continue to complain about his brake issues, with the Japanese driver clearly unhappy with his car at his home race.
With two minutes left in the session 12 of the 15 cars made their way out onto the circuit with the drivers fighting to get themselves into Q3.
Vettel would once again lead the pack with the German going fifth before ultimately dropping down to tenth and squeezing into the final part of what will most likely be his final-ever qualifying session in Japan.
The drivers who would not join Vettel in Q3 were Ricciardo, Valtteri Bottas, Tsunoda, Guanyu Zhou, and Mick Schumacher.
Q1: Gasly misses out after AlphaTauri blunder
An electric atmosphere greeted the drivers with the Japanese fans out in full force following the return of the Japanese Grand Prix to the F1 calendar after a two-year hiatus.
Williams’ Nicholas Latifi got things underway with homeboy Tsunoda following the Canadian. While Latifi would abort his timed lap, Tsunoda would give his fans something to cheer about going four-tenths faster than his teammate Pierre Gasly.
The AlphaTauri drivers would complain about braking issues, giving their respective engineers a mouthful over the team radio.
As the front runners set their first timed laps, Tsunoda’s lap time would be quicker than Hamilton’s and Russell’s best efforts on the medium tyres, though he would be displaced at the top of the time sheets by Norris. Red Bull’s Verstappen would then top the time sheets, with the Dutchman leading the Ferrari pair of Sainz and Leclerc who settled into second and third respectively.
As the session crept to its conclusion Aston Martin’s Vettel would set the first of many laps with the German getting himself out of the cut-off zone.
However, his teammate Lance Stroll would not, with the Canadian only managing 19th. He would be joined by Alex Albon, Gasly, Kevin Magnussen and Latifi in missing out on Q2.