Max Verstappen during Japanese Grand Prix qualifying. (Pirelli Photo)

Verstappen Edges Perez for Suzuka Pole

Oracle Red Bull Racing locked down the front row of Sunday’s Japanese Grand Prix with Max Verstappen edging teammate Sergio Perez by 0.066 seconds. 

Verstappen’s time of 1:28.197 was laid down at the end of Q3. 

“Overall, in qualifying the laps have been very nice and it was a great result for the team,” Verstappen said. “In the last lap I tried to push a bit more and I was gaining quite nicely in sector one, but ran out of tires at the end so lost a bit of time which was a shame. We have to work on our long runs as we have not been fully happy with these and still feel like we can work to control the balance of the car a bit more.

“It wasn’t perfect, but to still be on pole on a lap that I felt like could have been better, is great. We made some good changes within the car and I really enjoyed sector one; around here it is really fun to drive and the car is improving every year, especially in the high speed. All in all, the team has a front row start, which is a perfect start to the race tomorrow, but I expect it to be very competitive. It is great to be here, the support is always amazing and hopefully we can give the fans a good race.”

Lando Norris wheeled his McLaren to a third-place qualifying result, with Ferrari’s Carlos Sainz placing fourth after winning the series’ last event in Australia.

Aston Martin’s Fernando Alonso starts fifth alongside second-year driver Oscar Piastri.

Lewis Hamilton and Charles Leclerc make up row four, while George Russell qualified ninth. 

Hometown hero Yuki Tsunoda starts 10th.