A Thrilling Qualifying Session at Suzuka: Winners and Losers
Last week’s Singapore Grand Prix shook up the F1 season with Carlos Sainz Jr. securing his first victory. As the action now shifts to Suzuka, Max Verstappen claimed pole position, reigniting Red Bull’s chances at the top spot on the podium. But Verstappen wasn’t the only winner in qualifying. Let’s take a closer look at the qualifying session at Suzuka and the winners and losers from the day.
McLaren showed promising signs during the practice sessions, hinting at a strong performance in the Japanese Grand Prix. And they delivered on that promise during qualifying. Oscar Piastri and Lando Norris impressed by securing second and third place, respectively. Team Principal Andrea Stella expressed his delight at the team’s performance, highlighting the progress of the car. Piastri, enjoying his best-ever qualifying session, credited the upgrades and the team’s efforts. While McLaren celebrates their second and third-place start, they acknowledge the challenge of catching up to Verstappen’s pace.
Loser: Logan Sargeant
Logan Sargeant’s qualifying session came to an unfortunate end as he crashed out during Q1, leaving him disappointed and out of contention. Sargeant acknowledged his struggle with rear overheating and admitted to being a bit too aggressive on power. Despite the setback, Sargeant remained focused on the race and appreciated the team’s efforts to repair his car for Sunday.
The battle for AlphaTauri’s 2024 lineup had been a major talking point before qualifying. With Yuki Tsunoda, Daniel Ricciardo, and Liam Lawson vying for two spots, Lawson was left out. Tsunoda showcased his talent and secured a spot in Q3, his best starting position since Monaco. Tsunoda expressed his gratitude towards the Japanese fans and his team, highlighting the improvement in the car. Meanwhile, Lawson narrowly missed out on Q3 but put himself in a position to score points in the race. AlphaTauri’s decision seemed wise as the drivers delivered strong performances.
Losers: Aston Martin
Aston Martin had high hopes for the season, but their qualifying session at Suzuka was challenging. Fernando Alonso managed to secure a spot in Q3 but will start tenth on Sunday. Lance Stroll’s Q1 run was affected by a red flag, resulting in a 17th place finish. Team Principal Mike Krack acknowledged that the team lacked the necessary performance for higher qualification, but he hopes the team can make use of their tyre management strategy to score points in the race.
The battle for second place in the Constructors’ Championship intensified with Ferrari closing the gap after Sainz’s win. In qualifying, Sainz and Charles Leclerc outperformed the Mercedes duo of Lewis Hamilton and George Russell. Sainz will start fourth, and Leclerc will begin from sixth. Leclerc mentioned the importance of tyre management and strategy in the race, emphasizing the challenge posed by Red Bull and McLaren’s strong race pace.
Haas has struggled with their race pace and tyre degradation throughout the season, and their qualifying session at Suzuka reflected those challenges. Nico Hülkenberg failed to advance to Q2, while Kevin Magnussen’s late attempt placed him in 15th. The team is aware that their race performance might suffer given their qualifying positions, but they remain committed to pushing forward.
Winner: Max Verstappen
Max Verstappen reasserted his dominance by securing pole position in convincing fashion. With a gap of over half a second between him and Piastri, Verstappen demonstrated his exceptional performance. Verstappen’s no-nonsense attitude towards critics attributing his bad weekend to technical directives reflects his determination to come out on top.
With such an exciting qualifying session, the Japanese Grand Prix promises to be a thrilling race.
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