Record setting Hamilton takes maiden Suzuka pole
Lewis Hamilton shattered the track lap record as he claimed his maiden Formula 1 pole position at Suzuka for the Japanese Grand Prix.
Hamilton set a best of 1:27.319s to confirm himself at the front of the field for tomorrow’s race, a time nobody could get within a third of a second of.
Bottas made sure it was a Mercedes one-two for the session but will tumble down the order for tomorrow’s race after taking a five-place grid penalty.
That will promote third fastest qualifier Sebastian Vettel onto the front row in the leading Ferrari, whose best was almost half a second adrift of Hamilton.
Daniel Ricciardo got the better of Max Verstappen in the internal Red Bull battle, Ricciardo in fourth one place ahead of his Dutch team-mate.
Rounding out the top ten was Kimi Raikkonen, who will drop to eleventh after taking his grid penalty, Esteban Ocon and Sergio Perez for Force India, Felipe Massa, and Fernando Alonso who, with a grid penalty looming over him, cruised around more than three seconds slower than the pole time.
Hamilton initially broke the track record Qualifying 2, his first flyer of the session lowering the benchmark by 1.1s courtesy of a 1:27.819s lap.
That marker would be lowered further still as qualifying continued, shattering the previous track record set by Michael Schumacher in 2006.
Hamilton’s lap was the highlight of the middle phase of the session, which accounted for Stoffel Vandoorne, Nico Hulkenberg, Kevin Magnussen, Jolyon Palmer and Carlos Sainz.
A moment for Bottas saw the Mercedes driver bouncing through the gravel at Degner 2 early in the first part of qualifying and was lucky to avoid the wall.
Romain Grosjean was less lucky, losing control in the Esses early in the lap before crashing out two corners later at Dunlop.
The Haas driver found the wall with little more than a minute left on the clock in Qualifying 1, drawing the red flag and ending the session.
It meant both Saubers failed to make the grade, Pascal Wehrlein behind Marcus Ericsson on the back row of the grid.
Lance Stroll qualified 18th fastest though was baulked by Sergio Perez earlier in the session, an incident which was investigated by the Stewards.
Pierre Gasly and Grosjean were the other two casualties of the session.
With a host of penalties yet to be applied, including for Sainz, Bottas and Raikkonen, the starting order will be markedly different to the qualifying result.
The Japanese Grand Prix starts at 1600 AEDT on Sunday.
Results: Formula 1 Japanese Grand Prix Qualifying
|3||Daniel Ricciardo||Red Bull/Renault||1m28.306s||0.987s|
|4||Max Verstappen||Red Bull/Renault||1m28.332s||1.013s|
|5||Esteban Ocon||Force India/Mercedes||1m29.111s||1.792s|
|6||Sergio Perez||Force India/Mercedes||1m29.260s||1.941s|
|14||Pierre Gasly||Toro Rosso/Renault||1m31.317s||3.998s|
|19||Carlos Sainz||Toro Rosso/Renault||1m30.413s||3.094s|