Vettel beats Leclerc, Mercedes to Suzuka pole

Sebastian Vettel took his fifth pole position at the Japanese Grand Prix, continuing Ferrari‘s run of form, but curtailing team-mate Charles Leclerc sequence of P1 starts.

Leclerc will join Vettel on the front row for the race later on Sunday, with the grid decided less than three hours before the grand prix after Saturday’s running was called off due to Typhoon Hagibis.

Vettel’s pole time of one minute 27.064 is a new track record at Suzuka and ended a nine-race run of qualifying behind Leclerc.

Qualifying was hit with further delays as both Robert Kubica and Kevin Magnussen crashed in Q1, putting their participation in the grand prix into doubt.

Ferrari’s fifth pole in sequence this season ends Mercedes‘ run of dominance at Suzuka, with Valtteri Bottas nudging ahead of Lewis Hamilton in a second-row lockout.

Max Verstappen and Alexander Albon set exactly the same lap time, with the Dutchman classified fifth, but perhaps falling short of Red Bull’s hopes in Honda’s home race.

The Noah’s Ark nature of the grid continued on the fourth row as Carlos Sainz qualified a tenth ahead of McLaren team-mate Lando Norris, with Pierre Gasly ninth to ensure Honda at least has strong representation in the top 10, and Romain Grosjean 10th.


Nico Hulkenberg ran into a “major problem”, later confirmed as a hydraulic leak, which ended his session and further issues for the German came as Antonio Giovinazzi out-qualified Kimi Raikkonen at Alfa Romeo, albeit going out in P11. The Italian is Hulkenberg’s main rival if he wants to secure the Alfa seat next season. Daniil Kvyat and Lance Stroll also dropped out.


After Kubica and Magnussen’s incidents, a mad scramble over 11 minutes ended with Daniel Ricciardo suffering his second Q1 exit of the year alongside Sergio Perez and George Russell.