Here are the results from each session during qualifying for the Japanese Grand Prix at Suzuka, an event where Max Verstappen can wrap up the 2022 World Championship.
After letting his first ‘match point’ of six slip by in Singapore, the Red Bull driver has a second attempt to ensure he retains the crown he captured last year as F1 returns to Suzuka for the first time since 2019.
Friday’s free practice day was wet and it could be a similar story for the race, but qualifying looked to be the best day of the weekend weather-wise and the slick tyres were rolled out in FP3 – where Verstappen was unsurprisingly fastest by nearly three tenths of a second over Ferrari duo Carlos Sainz and Charles Leclerc.
That meant the Dutchman started a warm favourite to grab pole position and atone for his team’s fuelling error in Singapore a week earlier that meant he started only eighth – and finished the race seventh behind his team-mate Sergio Perez.
As the qualifying action began in Q1, the first two drivers out to set flying laps were AlphaTauri duo Yuki Tsunoda, competing in his home grand prix for the first time, and Pierre Gasly. The latter had been the subject of the day’s big early story as his move to Alpine for 2023 was confirmed, Nyck de Vries to fill the seat he is vacating.
Mercedes surprisingly went out on the medium tyres to try and preserve some of their soft rubber and the policy worked, with no pressure on them entering the last couple of minutes and the final ‘hot’ laps.
The only real surprise among the first five eliminations was the exit of Gasly, who complained of brake issues, the Frenchman joined by Williams duo Alex Albon and Nicholas Latifi, Aston Martin’s Lance Stroll and Haas’ Kevin Magnussen.
❌ Out in Q1:
— PlanetF1 (@Planet_F1) October 8, 2022
1 Max Verstappen Red Bull 1:30.224
2 Carlos Sainz Ferrari +0.112
3 Charles Leclerc Ferrari +0.178
4 Fernando Alonso Alpine +0.379
5 Sergio Perez Red Bull +0.398
6 Esteban Ocon Alpine +0.472
7 George Russell Mercedes +0.641
8 Daniel Ricciardo McLaren +0.656
9 Lando Norris McLaren +0.657
10 Zhou Guanyu Alfa Romeo +0.670
11 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes +0.682
12 Yuki Tsunoda AlphaTauri +0.906
13 Mick Schumacher Haas +0.928
14 Valtteri Bottas Alfa Romeo +1.002
15 Sebastian Vettel Aston Martin +1.032
16 Alexander Albon Williams +1.087
17 Pierre Gasly AlphaTauri +1.098
18 Kevin Magnussen Haas +1.128
19 Lance Stroll Aston Martin +1.195
20 Nicholas Latifi Williams +1.287
The pattern at the top of the order from Q1 continued as Q2 began – Verstappen ahead of the two Ferraris, with Alpine also showing impressive pace and likewise, in the first sector especially, Lando Norris in the McLaren.
But it proved to be the end of the day’s action for local hero Tsunoda, Daniel Ricciardo in the McLaren who had been going well earlier in Q2, Alfa Romeo duo Valtteri Bottas and Zhou Guanyu, and Haas’ Mick Schumacher.
Verstappen stayed in the garage for the final run and that allowed Perez and Alonso to leapfrog him, perhaps indicating the pole-position fight may be more open than expected.
The margins in this one were ridiculous! 🤏
0.003s between Alonso and Verstappen
0.001s between Hamilton and Sainz
0.003s between Vettel and Ricciardo
— Formula 1 (@F1) October 8, 2022
1 Sergio Perez Red Bull 1:29.925
2 Fernando Alonso Alpine +0.418
3 Max Verstappen Red Bull +0.421
4 Esteban Ocon Alpine +0.432
5 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes +0.518
6 Carlos Sainz Ferrari +0.519
7 George Russell Mercedes +0.540
8 Lando Norris McLaren +0.548
9 Charles Leclerc Ferrari +0.561
10 Sebastian Vettel Aston Martin +0.731
11 Daniel Ricciardo McLaren +0.734
12 Valtteri Bottas Alfa Romeo +0.784
13 Yuki Tsunoda AlphaTauri +0.883
14 Guanyu Zhou Alfa Romeo +1.028
15 Mick Schumacher Haas +1.514
Sainz had been a touch ahead of his team-mate Leclerc in the first two parts of qualifying, but it was roles reversed on the opening Q3 runs – but both were just over a quarter of a second behind Verstappen.
But there was a worry looming for the World Champion as, warming his tyres, he briefly lost the rear of his Red Bull which jutted at an angle right into the path of Norris, who was approaching at pace. Despite Verstappen apologising when later passing the Briton, the stewards said they would investigate the incident after the session.
Until the verdict was announced, Verstappen was on pole as neither Ferrari could go quicker than him, with Red Bull and Ferrari locking out the front two rows.
1 Max Verstappen Red Bull 1:29.304
2 Charles Leclerc Ferrari +0.010
3 Carlos Sainz Ferrari +0.057
4 Sergio Perez Red Bull +0.405
5 Esteban Ocon Alpine +0.861
6 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes +0.957
7 Fernando Alonso Alpine +1.018
8 George Russell Mercedes +1.085
9 Sebastian Vettel Aston Martin +1.250
10 Lando Norris McLaren +1.699