Race Weekend Central

Max Verstappen on Pole in Suzuka, Oscar Piastri 2nd

Max Verstappen returned to form in qualifying for the Formula 1 Japanese Grand Prix by taking pole position during Saturday’s (Sept. 23) qualifying session at the Suzuka Circuit.

The Dutchman will be joined on the front row by Oscar Piastri with McLaren teammate Lando Norris starting third.

“Incredible weekend so far, especially in qualifying,” Verstappen told Jean Alesi after the session. “We had, of course, a bad weekend in Singapore but I already felt from the preparation we had that this was going to be a good track. But you never really know how good it’s going to be, but from lap one it felt really, really nice … to be on pole here, it’s fantastic.”


Verstappen topped the final session of qualifying with a pole time of 1:28.877. Piastri earned the first front-row starting position of his career, over half a second off the pace of Verstappen.

The leading Red Bull’s pace was in a league of its own, to echo the commentary booth. 1.683 seconds separated Verstappen from 10th-placed Fernando Alonso.

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Leclerc posted the fastest time of Q2 with a 1:29.940. The second session of the day passed without incident.

Eliminated from Q2 were:


The first session of the day was highlighted by a heavy crash for Logan Sargeant. The American rookie found a snap of oversteer as his Williams machine came up to speed exiting the Casio Triangle section, but the car caught grip as Sargeant corrected directions, sending it into the turn 18 barriers.

Sargeant was unharmed, though his car was totaled.

Leclerc, Zhou and Bottas were all investigated by race control for exceeding the maximum lap time, but were cleared by the stewards on charges of “moving unnecessarily slowly” on track.

Eliminated from Q1 were:

2023 F1 Qualifying Results from Suzuka

The 2023 Japanese Grand Prix will begin at 1 a.m. ET on Sunday, Sept. 24 with coverage on ESPN.

About the author

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Alex is the IndyCar Content Director at Frontstretch, having initially joined as an entry-level contributor in 2021. He also serves as Managing Director of The Asia Cable, a publication focused on the international affairs and politics of the Asia-Pacific region which he co-founded in 2023. With previous experience in China, Japan and Poland, Alex is particularly passionate about the international realm of motorsport and the politics that make the wheels turn - literally - behind the scenes.

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