Sebastian Vettel tamed difficult track conditions to score pole position for the Japanese Grand Prix in the delayed qualifying session at Suzuka on Sunday morning.

Following the cancellation of Saturday’s programme due to the arrival of Typhoon Hagibis in Japan, qualifying was rescheduled for Sunday morning, taking place in sunny but windy conditions.

The gusts and headwinds made it difficult for drivers at times through qualifying, but Vettel was able to put in two laps good enough for pole position with an impressive display.

Vettel’s final time of 1m27.064s marked a new track record at Suzuka, putting him almost two-tenths of a second clear of teammate Charles Leclerc as Ferrari locked out the front row of the grid.

It marks Vettel’s first pole position since the Canadian Grand Prix in June, and is his fifth taken at Suzuka. It is also the first time Vettel has outqualified Leclerc in the last 10 races.

Mercedes drivers Valtteri Bottas and Lewis Hamilton were left to settle for the second row of the grid in third and fourth respectively, finishing two-tenths of a second back from Vettel’s pole time.

Max Verstappen and Alexander Albon set identical lap times in fifth and sixth for Red Bull, both lapping 0.787s slower than Vettel. Verstappen will start ahead on the grid by virtue of setting his time earlier than Albon.

Carlos Sainz led the midfield yet again for McLaren, taking P7 ahead of teammate Lando Norris, while Pierre Gasly impressed for Toro Rosso by reaching Q3, ultimately qualifying ninth. Romain Grosjean completed the top 10 for Haas.

Antonio Giovinazzi managed to continue his impressive recent qualifying record over Alfa Romeo teammate Kimi Raikkonen, taking 11th as he fell one-tenth of a second short of advancing to Q3. Raikkonen could only take P13, a further tenth off Giovinazzi.

Lance Stroll split the Alfa Romeos in P12, while Daniil Kvyat struggled to match Toro Rosso teammate Gasly’s pace in qualifying as he struggled to 14th.

Renault’s Nico Hulkenberg qualified down in P15 after an issue on his car caused him to lose his power steering and get stuck in gear, forcing him to abandon his final run in Q2. Teammate Daniel Ricciardo was shuffled out of qualifying at the end of Q1 after a flurry of improvements late in the session, leaving the him 16th in the final classification, one-tenth of a second shy of advancing.

Sergio Perez was also eliminated in the opening session, finishing more than half a second adrift of the top 15 as he qualified 17th for Racing Point. Perez narrowly avoided being beaten by Williams’ George Russell, who lapped just two-hundredths of a second off in 18th.

Kevin Magnussen and Robert Kubica both failed to set a time in qualifying after two separate crashes at the final corner early in Q1. Kubica was the first to crash out, putting on wheel on the grass before his car speared into the barrier, causing significant damage to the chassis that may put him in doubt for the race.

Magnussen lost the rear end of his car coming through the final corner before crashing into the wall and damaging both the front and rear wings, but was able to reverse back onto the track and return to the pits under his own steam.

The Japanese Grand Prix will get underway at 1410 local time in Japan (0610 BST).

 

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