Verstappen takes pole ahead of Japanese Grand Prix

Max Verstappen has taken pole ahead of tomorrow’s Japanese Grand Prix, with team-mate Sergio Perez making it Red Bull’s 27th front row lock-out.

It was perhaps closer than most were expecting between the duo, with just +0.066 separating them at the chequered flag. In comparison, the gap from Verstappen to P2 last year was over half a second.

Photo by Mark Thompson/Getty Images) // Getty Images / Red Bull Content Pool

McLaren’s Lando Norris initially split the Red Bulls after the first runs in Q3, but Perez eeked out more of an improvement in the second runs to leapfrog the McLaren into second.

The top five was rounded out by Ferrari’s Carlos Sainz and Aston Martin’s Fernando Alonso. The other Aston Martin of Lance Stroll, in contrast, missed out on advancing to Q2 by only +0.061 and will start tomorrow’s race down in P16.

Oscar Piastri will start P6 with Lewis Hamilton in P7, the Brit sounding more buoyant about the set-up of his Mercedes than he has in recent weeks.

Charles Leclerc ran out of sync with the rest of the top ten in Q3, setting his only lap of the session with the entire track to himself. His time initially put him P7, but with the rest of the field re-emerging a few minutes later for their second runs he slipped to P8 by the time the chequered flag was brought out.

George Russell qualified P9. He was released into the path of Piastri in the pits during Q1 but has escaped a grid drop, with Mercedes instead receiving a ÔéČ5,000 fine for an unsafe release.

Home favourite Yuki Tsunoda rounds out the top ten.

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