Sebastian Vettel claimed the 57thpole position of his career as Ferrari locked out the front row at Suzuka in a delayed qualifying session for the Japanese Grand Prix. Mercedes will start from row two, with Valtteri Bottas third ahead of team-mate Lewis Hamilton.
The arrived of Typoon Hagibis yesterday caused the cancellation of all track action at the Mie Prefecture track and qualifying got underway on Sunday morning.
The first segment began in disjointed fashion with two red flags in quick succession. First Williams’ Robert Kubica went onto the gras at Turn 18 and slid off into the barriers and then, after an eight-minutes halt, Haas’ Kevin Magnussen did almost the same. The Dane got out of shape on the exit of the final chicane and then simply spun out in Turn 18 before slapping the barriers with both end of his car. Magnussen managed to keep his Haas going, however, and limped to the pits, though he was not seen for the rest of the session.
When the green lights went on again the segment was straightforward for the front runners. Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc led the way ahead of Hamilton and Red Bull Racing’s Max Verstappen. However, eliminated at the end of the session were Renault’s Daniel Ricciardo in 16thplace, followed by Racing Point’s Sergio Pérez, Williams’ George Russell and the unfortunate Magnussen and Kubica.
The second session saw Vettel set the early pace with a lap of 1:28.174, though that was soon beaten by Hamilton who set a time of 1:27.826.
The kept the title leader on top until the late in the session when Bottas jumped ahead of his team-mate with an improved lap of 1:27.688. Red Bull’s Alex also improved on his final run of the session, gaining almost seven tenths of a second over his first attempt to steal P3 with a lap of 1:28.156. Ferrari, meanwhile, chose to skip the final runs and Q2 ended with Vettel fourth ahead of Leclerc with Verstappen. Behind the Dutchman, McLaren’s Lando Norris made it into Q3 ahead of team-mate Carlos Sainz, Toro Rosso’s Pierre Gasly and the Haas of Romain Grosjean.
Eliminated at the end of Q2 were 11th-placed Alfa Romeo driver Antonio Giovinazzi, followed by Racing Point’s Lance Stroll, the second Alfa of Kimi Räikkönen, the second Toro Rosso of Daniil Kvyat and Renault’s Nico Hulkenberg.
It was Vettel, though, who rose up through the ranks to claim pole position. The German set blistering pace to set a outright track record of 1:27.064, almost two tenths of a second quicker than team-mate Charles Leclerc.
Behind the Ferrari front row lockout Mercedes seized row two with Bottas ahead of Hamilton. Red Bull locked out row three, with Verstappen and Albon posting identical times of 1:27.851, with the Dutchman only securing P5 by virtue of setting the time first. It was impressive performance from Albon on his first F1 weekend at Suzuka. Behind the Red Bulls, McLaren took row four with Carlos Sainz ahead of Lando Norris, while Pierre Gasly was ninth for Toro Rosso ahead of Haas’ Romain Grosjean.
2019 FIA Formula One Japanese Grand Prix – Qualifying
1 Sebastian Vettel Ferrari 1:27.064 6 240.113
2 Charles Leclerc Ferrari 1:27.253 0.189 6 239.592
3 Valtteri Bottas Mercedes 1:27.293 0.229 6 239.483
4 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes 1:27.302 0.238 6 239.458
5 Max Verstappen Red Bull/Honda 1:27.851 0.787 6 237.962
6 Alexander Albon Red Bull/Honda 1:27.851 0.787 6 237.962
7 Carlos Sainz JrMcLaren/Renault 1:28.304 1.240 6 236.741
8 Lando Norris McLaren/Renault 1:28.464 1.400 6 236.313
9 Pierre Gasly Toro Rosso/Honda 1:28.836 1.772 6 235.323
10 Romain Grosjean Haas/Ferrari 1:29.341 2.277 3 233.993
11 Antonio Giovinazzi Alfa Romeo/Ferrari 1:29.254 1.566 6 234.221
12 Lance Stroll Racing Point/Mercedes 1:29.345 1.657 6 233.982
13 Kimi Räikkönen Alfa Romeo/Ferrari 1:29.358 1.670 6 233.948
14 Daniil Kvyat Toro Rosso/Honda 1:29.563 1.875 6 233.413
15 Nico Hülkenberg Renault 1:30.112 2.424 4 231.991
16 Daniel Ricciardo Renault 1:29.822 1.417 8 232.740
17 Sergio Pérez Racing Point/Mercedes 1:30.344 1.939 9 231.395
18 George Russell Williams/Mercedes 1:30.364 1.959 10 231.344
– Kevin Magnussen Haas/Ferrari 2
– Robert Kubica Williams/Mercedes 1