Vettel claims Suzuka pole as Ferrari secure front-row lockout

Omnisport
Ferrari's Sebastian Vettel topped the timesheets in qualifying for Sunday's race.
Ferrari's Sebastian Vettel topped the timesheets in qualifying for Sunday's race.

Sebastian Vettel sealed a stunning pole position for the Japanese Grand Prix as Ferrari locked out the front row ahead of Mercedes.

Qualifying was moved from Saturday to Sunday – the morning of the race – due to Typhoon Hagibis – and Vettel tamed difficult track conditions to earn front position.

In sunny but windy conditions, four-time world champion Vettel clocked a new track record of one minute, 27.064 seconds at Suzuka Circuit.

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It was Vettel's first pole position since the Canadian Grand Prix as the German star finished ahead of team-mate Charles Leclerc.

Ferrari's sensational performance – the team's fifth successive pole – left Mercedes pair Valtteri Bottas and reigning world champion Lewis Hamilton in the second row.

Vettel and Ferrari locked out the front row for the first time at Suzuka since 2006, with Red Bull's Max Verstappen fifth quickest.

"The conditions were very different to what we had on Friday, but the main thing is obviously the sun is out, people are happy," Vettel said after two red flags delayed proceedings in Q1.

"I think we were quite surprised, to be honest. We didn't expect that, to have the front row. So very happy.

"It was unbelievable, the car being so light on fuel and new tyres, and we had headwind up the Esses, which is what you want because then the car feels even better. I don't think I used the brakes other than Turn 2!

"It was unbelievable. I really enjoyed it, but it's only part of the job done. Let's look forward to this afternoon."

 

PROVISIONAL CLASSIFICATION

1. Sebastian Vettel (Ferrari) 1:27.174secs
2. Charles Leclerc (Ferrari) +0.189s
3. Valtteri Bottas (Mercedes) +0.229s
4. Lewis Hamilton (Mercedes) +0.238s
5. Max Verstappen (Red Bull) +0.787s 
6. Alexander Albon (Red Bull) +0.787s
7. Carlos Sainz (McLaren) +1.240s
8. Lando Norris (McLaren) +1.400s
9. Pierre Gasly (Toro Rosso) +1.772s
10. Romain Grosjean (Haas) +2.277s

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