Hamilton blitzes lap record to claim maiden Suzuka pole – Qualifying Report

Japanese Grand Prix – Lewis Hamilton claimed his maiden Suzuka pole with lap record pace ahead of team mate Valtteri Bottas.

The championship leader did a 1:27.319, some 1.6s quicker than Michael Schumacher’s 2006 qualifying record.

Bottas was second, three tenths away from his team mate but will start sixth after taking a 5-place grid penalty for a gearbox change.

Kimi Raikkonen qualified in sixth but suffers the same penalty after a crash in FP3. He starts tenth, with both of the Finns starting on the soft tyre having qualified on them in Q2.

Championship challenger Sebastian Vettel was third, just under half a second away but will join his rival Hamilton on the front row.

Daniel Ricciardo was running less downforce than team mate Max Verstappen with the Australian out-qualifying the Malaysian Grand Prix winner in fourth.

Esteban Ocon beat his Force India team mate Sergio Perez to seventh, with Perez under investigation for blocking Lance Stroll at the final chicane in Q1.

Felipe Massa and Fernando Alonso completed the top ten, but the McLaren will start at the back having taken a 35-place grid penalty for power unit element changes.

He will be joined on the back row by Carlos Sainz Jr, who has a 20-place penalty for the same reason.

Romain Grosjean brought Q1 to a premature end when he crashed at the Esses in a bid to get himself out of the drop zone. He lost the back end of his Haas and smashed into the tyre barriers, bringing out the red flags.

Qualifying results.

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Chris Stevens

Chris is a member of the Autosport Academy and has been writing about motorsport professionally since 2015. He has been one of the top Formula E journalists since he went to Donington Park for pre-season testing a week after picking up his A-Level results.

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  1. Every time this season when I hear about how Ferrari have the advantage, I see Vettel screw up, and then I see Lewis bounce back and put it on pole position. I recall people saying that Lewis would crack under the pressure of a challenge from Vettel. But it’s Vettel that has cracked, thrown away multiple race winning opportunities. And it is Lewis that has remained focused and is now leading the WDC.

    It’s like when all those people said that Lewis would struggle in the hybrid era, and the “thinking man’s driver” Nico Rosberg would put him to shame. Then when the FIA started posting the fuel consumption figures, it was Lewis that was able to manage the ERS system the best and use the least amount of fuel. So many stories that never come true. I recall someone saying that Ferrari would have a faster car all season as they had a special advantage that could not be copied with their unique side pod design. I don’t see that person posting a followup comment that they were wrong. So many people who shoot their mouths off, get it totally wrong, then vanish, never to man up and admit their mistake.

    The best was the guy who said that Bottas would pass Lewis in the standings, then tried to back track and claim he never said that. When I posted screen shots of his comments, to show him that he said it, he just vanished from that conversation. He didn’t have the courage to say three simple words “I was wrong.” I’m guessing he will flag this comment, even though I didn’t mention him by name, so he can’t claim that I am harassing him. Now that will be funny to see, as he said that those who flag comments are cowards.

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