And it’s a rare occasion of Max Verstappen and Red Bull having to bounce back from a notable down race, their astonishing run of consecutive wins finally ended at 15 by Ferrari and Carlos Sainz in a dramatic outing in Singapore last weekend.
Verstappen had made history with his 10th successive victory before that in Monza, but came thoroughly and surprisingly unstuck at Marina Bay as he battled from 11th up to fifth on the grid, with team-mate Sergio Perez eighth after both drivers made shock exits from Q2.
But the reigning two-time world champion has been back in a confident mood already in Japan, dominating in practice on Friday in ominous scenes before Pierre Gasly’s FP2 crash, and has once again now claimed pole position.
Few would have bet against Verstappen and Red Bull making a roaring return to form in Suzuka, where he was crowned F1 world champion for the second time 12 months ago amid all the chaos and confusion of a rain-shortened race and a crucial penalty for Charles Leclerc.
He can’t mathematically repeat that feat this weekend after missing the podium altogether in Singapore, but it’s only a matter of short time now before another driver and constructor double is confirmed.
Japanese Grand Prix start time
The 2023 Japanese Grand Prix takes place on Sunday September 24, 2023 at the Suzuka Circuit.
It will be an early alarm call for British racing fans, with the race set to start at 6am BST.
Japanese Grand Prix starting grid
1) Max Verstappen
2) Oscar Piastri
3) Lando Norris
4) Charles Leclerc
5) Sergio Perez
6) Carlos Sainz
7) Lewis Hamilton
8) George Russell
9) Yuki Tsunoda
10) Fernando Alonso
11) Liam Lawson
12) Pierre Gasly
13) Alex Albon
14) Esteban Ocon
15) Kevin Magnussen
16) Valtteri Bottas
17) Lance Stroll
18) Nico Hulkenberg
19) Zhou Guanyu
20) Logan Sargeant
Japanese Grand Prix weather forecast
The expected rain appeared to hold off in Suzuka on Friday, though FP2 was brought to an early conclusion anyway after Alpine’s Gasly crashed with Verstappen way ahead of the pack and normal service seemingly resumed.
The elements should not bring any drama as they have done before at this track, none more so than last year, with the weekend weather forecast showing dry and sunny conditions with perhaps some cloud on Sunday that will clear.
How to watch the Japanese Grand Prix
TV channel: In the UK, coverage of Saturday’s third practice session begins on Sky Sports Main Event and Sky Sports F1 at 3:15am.
Qualifying is on the same channels from 6am, with the race itself live on Main Event and F1 from 5:55am on Sunday.
Free-to-air highlights of the race are on Channel 4 from 12:30pm on Sunday afternoon.
Live stream: Sky Sports subscribers are also able to watch all the action online via the Sky Go app across the weekend.