Verstappen leaves Australia disappointment behind and takes pole in Japan

SUZUKA.- TO Max Verstappen They asked him a few days ago if he was worried about the Japanese Grand Prix. Two weeks ago, his rear brakes caught fire and forced him to abandon the race in Australia on the fourth lap.

“No, no,†responded the Dutch Red Bull driver.

True to his word, without worries, Verstappen set the best time of Saturday's qualifying session and will start from first place on the starting grid at the Japanese Grand Prix on Sunday, ready to continue his dominance without precedents in Formula 1 after the bump in Melbourne.

The Dutchman stopped the clock at 1:28.197, 0.066 faster than his teammate, the Mexican Sergio Pérez. McClaren's Lando Norris and Ferrari driver Carlos Sainz, who topped the podium in Australia, will complete the second row.

“It was pretty close at the end,†Verstappen said of his teammate Perez. “I think that, in general, this circuit is quite sensitive with the tires. When you really go to the limit, it doesn't always turn out well.

Verstappen did not seem entirely satisfied with his performance at the Suzuka circuit, suggesting that the top speed of his car was not what he expected.

“The point is to be on pole,†he added. “Of course you want every lap to be perfect, but on a circuit like this that's not always the case. Overall it was a good day, a good starting position for tomorrow. And, of course, tomorrow is what counts.â€

In addition, he seemed happy to go out with the Mexican: “It's great as a team (…) and we hope that tomorrow we can keep it up.”

Verstappen's yoke:

Verstappen won the last three drivers' championships, holds almost all the F1 records and has crossed the finish line first in 21 of the last 25 grands prix.

He has also achieved all the pole positions so far this season – four – and Saturday's was the 36th of his career, with which he will seek his 57th victory on Sunday.

The Mercedes driver, Lewis Hamilton, the seven-time world champion who dominated the circuits until the emergence of Verstappen, has not won in 48 races, since 2021. In Suzuka he will start from seventh position on the grid.

Saturday's qualifying was held in sunny, dry weather, which is expected to continue throughout the race.

Fernando Alonso, from Aston Martin, will occupy fifth position, and the McLaren of Oscar Piastri will accompany him in the third row.