Japanese Grand Prix: title-seeking Max Verstappen on pole, Charles LecLerc second | Formula 1 news

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Runaway championship leader Max Verstappen took pole position for the Japanese Grand Prix on Saturday as he seeks his second consecutive world title this weekend at Suzuka. The Red Bull driver led the times in dry conditions with a time of 1 minute 29.304, just 0.010 seconds ahead of Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc, his closest rival in the championship. Carlos Sainz was third in the other Ferrari.

But Verstappen could be in trouble after stewards said they would investigate an incident involving the Dutchman and McLaren’s Lando Norris.

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Norris was forced onto the grass to avoid hitting Verstappen, with the Red Bull driver muttering “incredible” over his team radio, but later apologizing.

Verstappen can take the title on Sunday if he wins the race with the fastest lap, whatever his rivals do.

The Dutchman also keeps his crown if he wins and Leclerc is third or lower.

“It was incredible to drive here again and of course very happy to be on pole, but just super happy to be back here,” said Verstappen, whose car lost a piece of bodywork on its last lap after crashing on a piece. drove wide. of the track.

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“I lost a bit of my channel in that last lap and that’s why I didn’t improve. Tomorrow will be interesting with the weather.”

Showers are predicted for Sunday.

“It’s a very difficult lap here, I lost the tires in the last part and so lost some time,” said Leclerc after just losing pole.

“We’ll try to have a good race, we have a very limited amount of data, so that’s always a challenge. Let’s wait and see the conditions – it should be a fun race.”

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Sergio Perez, in the other Red Bull, was fourth.

AlphaTauri’s Pierre Gasly failed to progress past Q1 after a problem with his brakes.

The Frenchman, who announced earlier today that he would replace two-time world champion Fernando Alonso at Alpine next season, was furious.

“I feel like we could have managed this situation a little better,” Gasly told TV reporters.

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