Weather: dry 27.5°C
Tarmac: dry 38.4°C
Humidity : 46%
Wind : 15.4 km/h S
Pressure: 1014.7 bar
Max Verstappen scored the 29th F1 pole position of his career during the 2023 Japanese Grand Prix qualifying session today. It was the 9th pole of the season for the Red Bull driver and his second career P1 start on the Suzuka circuit. It was the 93rd pole for Red Bull Racing.
Q1 Session Report
Max Verstappen dominated Q1 at the Japanese Grand Prix, putting in a blistering lap of 1m 29.878s, closely followed by Lando Norris. But it wasn't a walk in the park for everyone—F1 saw a mix of surprises, eliminations, and traffic woes that set the stage for an electrifying race weekend.
Red Flags and Heartbreak
Just as the action was heating up, the session faced a red flag interruption. Logan Sargeant, the rookie who showed promise this weekend, lost control and slammed into the barriers, effectively ending his session and causing the red flag. Thankfully, Sargeant emerged unscathed but the same couldn't be said for his car or his team's spirits.
Aston Martin and Alfa Romeo Struggle
Aston Martin seemed to be out of sorts today as Lance Stroll found himself packing up early, failing to make it to Q1. Valtteri Bottas of Alfa Romeo didn't fare any better. His elimination was a stark contrast to his career's highlights, marking a low point for the seasoned driver.
Time management turned into a frenzied debacle as everyone tried to carve out some space on the track. With cars going slow to create a gap, and others still on their out-laps, drivers like Gasly had to navigate through a sea of rivals, potentially compromising their lap times. The stewards had their hands full, notably calling out drivers like Charles Leclerc, Zhou, and Bottas for failing to adhere to the race director's maximum lap time instructions.
Climbers and Tumblers
Liam Lawson, the young AlphaTauri talent, turned heads by putting in a lap good enough for fourth. Meanwhile, the Mercedes duo faced a torrid time with Hamilton barely scraping through in 14th place. Alonso also had a scare, being on the bubble at 15th but managed to improve to 11th, pushing Hamilton further down the pecking order.
The Final Countdown
With track conditions improving rapidly, the last-minute laps were critical. Notably, Zhou had his lap time deleted, ensuring his exit from Q1. On the other hand, Yuki Tsunoda pleased the local fans by breaking into the top 10.
Summing It Up
With big names barely making it and others showing surprising pace, Q1 at the Japanese GP set the stage for what promises to be an unpredictable and thrilling race weekend. The paddock is buzzing, and we can't wait to see how Q2 and Q3 unfold. Stay tuned for more action-packed coverage!
Q2 Session Report
As the tension soared in Q2 at the iconic Suzuka circuit, Charles Leclerc stormed to provisional pole with a blistering lap. However, what's astonishing is Max Verstappen's P2 lap time set on used tires! That's right, while others like Lando Norris and Oscar Piastri opted for a fresh set of rubber, Verstappen stuck to his used set, showing the sheer pace of the Red Bull car.
Last-Minute Shuffles and Heartbreaks
The elimination list from Q2 was indeed a mixed bag, featuring Liam Lawson, Pierre Gasly, Alexander Albon, Esteban Ocon, and Kevin Magnussen. Special mention to Alonso, who just scraped through in P10 by a hair-raising 0.043s. Yuki Tsunoda, playing on home turf, also made it to Q3, much to the delight of the local fans.
Time's Ticking: Team Radios Buzzing
With the clock ticking down, there was a flurry of activity on the radios. Liam Lawson seemed to be on the brink of making it to the top 10 but was ultimately bumped down to P11, thanks to a last-minute effort from George Russell. Speaking of last-minute efforts, Magnussen surprised many by sneaking into P9.
Tyre Strategies and Pit Lane Drama
As we approached the final minutes of Q2, all eyes were on the tire strategies. Verstappen, Norris, and Piastri had the luxury of staying in the pits, having secured their Q3 berths. Meanwhile, Oscar Piastri experienced a minor hiccup in the pit lane, causing McLaren to pull him back, but he was already safely into Q3.
Albon's Tactical Move
Alexander Albon was the lone wolf on the track midway through the session, opting for fresh softs for his flying lap. He improved to P7, temporarily knocking Lawson down to P11, but also got knocked out in the end.
The McLaren Pair and Others
Oscar Piastri and Lando Norris didn't disappoint, with Piastri even outpacing Norris to secure P2. Verstappen, despite being on used tires, stayed at the top, showcasing the Red Bull's incredible pace. Meanwhile, a potential incident involving Leclerc, Zhou, and Bottas is under investigation by FIA stewards.
Verstappen Unfazed by Technical Glitches
Max Verstappen, the Dutch sensation, encountered a delta issue on his steering wheel but seemed unfazed, remarking, "Yeah, that doesn't do anything." A testament to the skills these F1 drivers possess, adjusting settings at breakneck speeds.
Q3 Session Report
What an electric showdown we just witnessed at Suzuka! In a qualifying session that was a nail-biter until the very last lap, Max Verstappen of Red Bull Racing delivered a masterclass performance to snatch pole position for the 2023 Japanese Grand Prix. He dominated the field with a blistering lap time of 1m 28.877s, leaving the competition almost gasping for air.
Hot Pursuit on Fresh Rubber
As the session unfolded, drivers like Verstappen, Oscar Piastri, and Lando Norris opted for fresh tires, setting up the stage for a fierce battle for the top spot. Piastri couldn't keep up, falling behind by 0.446 seconds, and Norris, despite a strong opening sector, ended up trailing his teammate.
Ferrari: In the Mix but Not at the Top
Ferrari chose a one-run strategy, sending Charles Leclerc and Carlos Sainz out later than others. While Leclerc managed a respectable fourth, he couldn't crack the podium positions, and Sainz had to settle for fifth.
Checo and Alonso: Veterans Show Their Class
Sergio Perez, although 1.4 seconds off his teammate Verstappen's pace, managed a fifth-place finish that later became fourth, effectively splitting the Ferraris. Fernando Alonso also put on a show, pitting early but landing in sixth place.
Mercedes: Where's the Pace?
Shockingly, Lewis Hamilton struggled for grip and ended up in a disappointing seventh place. His teammate, George Russell, briefly climbed to fourth before being pushed down to eighth. Mercedes will have to dig deep if they hope to challenge during the race.
Tsunoda Shines at Home
In front of his home crowd, Yuki Tsunoda made the Japanese fans proud by securing ninth, even outpacing Alonso momentarily. He just squeezed ahead of the Spaniard, providing a glimpse of his budding talent.
Final Moments: A Showcase of Skill
With the clock ticking down and everyone back on track for their final attempts, all eyes were on Verstappen. The Dutch driver didn't disappoint. A purple first sector was followed by an equally dominant second and third sector, and he crossed the line solidifying his pole position with a time that was nearly six-tenths faster than anyone else could muster.
In summary, this was a Q3 session that had it all: drama, surprises, and the sheer brilliance of Max Verstappen. If this is a preview of what's to come in the race, we're all in for a treat. Now, bring on the 2023 Japanese Grand Prix!
Team Radio Highlights
- Charles Leclerc: "We've got some work to do."
- Fernando Alonso: "Good job everyone, let's push for the race."
- Yuki Tsunoda: "Arigato, everyone. Let's make tomorrow special."
Quickest Sector Times
The fastest sectors times during this final practice were:
- Sector 1: 30.725 sec. by Max Verstappen (Red Bull RB19)
- Sector 2: 40.311 sec. by Max Verstappen (Red Bull RB19)
- Sector 2: 17.841 sec. by Max Verstappen (Red Bull RB19)
1:29.304 min was the pole position time of last year, set biy Max Verstappen with the Red Bull RB19.
Qualifying Times 2023 Japanese GP
|1||1||Max Verstappen||Red Bull||1:29.878||1:29.964||1:28.877||12|
|5||11||Sergio Pérez||Red Bull||1:30.652||1:29.965||1:29.650||18|
|10||14||Fernando Alonso||Aston Martin||1:30.971||1:30.465||1:30.560||15|
|16||77||Valtteri Bottas||Alfa Romeo||1:31.049||5|
|17||18||Lance Stroll||Aston Martin||1:31.181||7|
|19||24||Zhou Guanyu||Alfa Romeo||1:31.398||6|
|20||2||Logan Sargeant||Williams||no time||2|
✅ Check out our 2023 Japanese Formula 1 Grand Prix preview.
✅ Check out more posts with related topics: