Japanese Grand Prix – Lewis Hamilton led an all-Mercedes front row in Suzuka as Ferrari were left to rue an ill-timed call for intermediate tyres in Q3.
The Mercedes pair of Lewis Hamilton and Valtteri Bottas were left to fight it out for pole position after making the call to use supersoft tyres at the start of the final part of qualifying, whilst Ferrari were the only team to try the intermediates.
They realised that this was the wrong decision and pitted both drivers immediately for supersoft tyres, but mistakes from both Kimi Raikkonen and Sebastian Vettel – along with gradually-intensifying rain – meant the Ferrari pair qualifying down in fourth and ninth.
Hamilton’s time of a 1:27.760 was enough to beat his team-mate by three tenths of a second and claim his 80th Formula One pole position.
Max Verstappen took third for Red Bull ahead of Raikkonen, whilst the second Red Bull of Daniel Ricciardo was eliminated in Q2 after an electronics issue and will start from 15th.
This allowed Romain Grosjean to take fifth for Haas, and the team will have the luxury of starting on the ‘middle’ tyre compound for this race, having progressed into Q3 on the soft tyres, along with Mercedes.
Toro Rosso secured a dream result on Honda’s home turf, with Brendon Hartley taking his best qualifying result of the season in sixth and Pierre Gasly lining up seventh.
The Force Indias of Esteban Ocon and Sergio Perez also completed a fine qualifying, lining up eighth and tenth with Vettel in between them.
The session was stopped part-way through Q1 due to a crash for Sauber’s Marcus Ericsson, who lost control of his car leaving turn seven. He’ll start the race from the back of the grid.
To view the full results from the qualifying hour, click here.