Monday, April 15, 2024

Verstappen Secures Pole as Red Bull Look to Secure Championship

Max Verstappen returned to pole position at the Japanese Grand Prix, as Oscar Piastri became just the fifth Australian driver to start a Formula 1 Grand Prix on the front row.

Q1 – Sargeant Crashes Out, Stroll Exit

Championship leaders Oracle Red Bull Racing resumed normal service as they set the pace in the first part of qualifying for the Singapore Grand Prix. McLaren F1 Team were their nearest challengers, with Lando Norris attempting to push the Dutchman.

Logan Sargeant is yet to secure a seat for next season and a crash in qualifying won’t help the American’s chances in securing a drive in Formula 1 for 2024. The Williams Racing driver lost complete control coming out of the final corner, and his mistake was costly as the red flag was immediately brought out.

The red flag left pressure on Scuderia Ferrari, with neither of Carlos Sainz Jr. or Charles Leclerc setting a lap in the first half of the session. The Ferrari duo were the first drivers out once the session got underway, and they managed to do enough to get themselves through into Q2.

Zhou Guanyu and Valtteri Bottas were noted by race control for not following the director’s instructions but that wasn’t their biggest problem as both drivers found themselves knocked out in Q1, with new Alfa Romeo F1 Team Stake technical director James Key looking on.

Lance Stroll didn’t have enough pace to get through and joined the Alfa Romeo pair in the bottom five along with Sargeant and Nico Hülkenberg. Liam Lawson impressed in Q1, although he used three sets of soft tyres on his way to fourth.

Q2 – Alonso Scrapes Through

Q2 continued in the same vein as Q1, with a top three of Verstappen, Lando Norris and Piastri dominating after the first runs.

Verstappen’s quickest lap was enough to get him through on old tyres, with only Leclerc piping the Dutchman to top spot late in the session. Sergio Pérez managed to improve his lap time and go within 0.001s of his teammates time, while Lewis Hamilton finished the session just a tenth off the quickest time.

Credit: Getty Images / Red Bull Content Pool 

Sainz joined his Ferrari teammate in Q3, and there was an impressive lap by Yuki Tsunoda at his home race to get in to the top ten shootout and secure seventh. Piastri and Norris didn’t do a second run in Q2 – in attempt to save another set of soft tyres – and still made it through to Q3, along with George Russell and Fernando Alonso.

Alonso scraped through, with Lawson feeling the affects of old tyres although he finished just under half a tenth behind the two time world champion.

Lawson was joined in the bottom five by Pierre Gasly, Alex Albon, Esteban Ocon and Kevin Magnussen.

O3 – Verstappen Returns to Pole

Pole position seemed like a foregone conclusion at the start of Q3, with Verstappen flexing his pace, and by the end of the session the inevitable happened as the Dutchman made his return to pole position after a disappointing Singapore Grand Prix performance.

Piastri joined Verstappen on the front row and ahead of Norris, with both McLaren drivers not able to improve on their final runs. Pérez was lacking pace compared to his teammate and could only put a lap together that was good enough to split Leclerc and Sainz in fourth and sixth respectively.

Mercedes weren’t predicting to be challenging for pole this weekend, despite some new upgrades to the W14, and their lack of pace was evident throughout with Hamilton and Russell only able to secure seventh and eighth on the grid.

Tsunoda will start his home Grand Prix in ninth, ahead of Aston Martin Armco Cognisant F1 Team’s Fernando Alonso.

1 1 Max Verstappen RED BULL RACING HONDA RBPT 1:29.878 1:29.964 1:28.877 12
2 81 Oscar Piastri MCLAREN MERCEDES 1:30.439 1:30.122 1:29.458 14
3 4 Lando Norris MCLAREN MERCEDES 1:30.063 1:30.296 1:29.493 12
4 16 Charles Leclerc FERRARI 1:30.393 1:29.940 1:29.542 14
5 11 Sergio Perez RED BULL RACING HONDA RBPT 1:30.652 1:29.965 1:29.650 18
6 55 Carlos Sainz FERRARI 1:30.651 1:30.067 1:29.850 14
7 44 Lewis Hamilton MERCEDES 1:30.811 1:30.040 1:29.908 18
8 63 George Russell MERCEDES 1:30.811 1:30.268 1:30.219 15
9 22 Yuki Tsunoda ALPHATAURI HONDA RBPT 1:30.733 1:30.204 1:30.303 18
10 14 Fernando Alonso ASTON MARTIN ARAMCO MERCEDES 1:30.971 1:30.465 1:30.560 15
11 40 Liam Lawson ALPHATAURI HONDA RBPT 1:30.425 1:30.508 16
12 10 Pierre Gasly ALPINE RENAULT 1:30.843 1:30.509 12
13 23 Alexander Albon WILLIAMS MERCEDES 1:30.941 1:30.537 12
14 31 Esteban Ocon ALPINE RENAULT 1:30.960 1:30.586 12
15 20 Kevin Magnussen HAAS FERRARI 1:30.976 1:30.665 9
16 77 Valtteri Bottas ALFA ROMEO FERRARI 1:31.049 5
17 18 Lance Stroll ASTON MARTIN ARAMCO MERCEDES 1:31.181 7
18 27 Nico Hulkenberg HAAS FERRARI 1:31.299 6
19 24 Zhou Guanyu ALFA ROMEO FERRARI 1:31.398 6