Record setting Hamilton takes maiden Suzuka pole

Lewis Hamilton

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 pic: Fox Sports

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

Position  Driver  Car  Time  Gap
1 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes 1m27.319s
2 Sebastian Vettel Ferrari 1m27.791s 0.472s
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
7 Valtteri Bottas Mercedes 1m27.651s 0.332s
8 Felipe Massa Williams/Mercedes 1m29.480s 2.161s
9 Stoffel Vandoorne McLaren/Honda 1m29.778s 2.459s
10 Nico Hulkenberg Renault 1m29.879s 2.560s
11 Kimi Raikkonen Ferrari 1m28.498s 1.179s
12 Kevin Magnussen Haas/Ferrari 1m29.972s 2.653s
13 Romain Grosjean Haas/Ferrari 1m30.849s 3.530s
14 Pierre Gasly Toro Rosso/Renault 1m31.317s 3.998s
15 Lance Stroll Williams/Mercedes 1m31.409s 4.090s
16 Marcus Ericsson Sauber/Ferrari 1m31.597s 4.278s
17 Pascal Wehrlein Sauber/Ferrari 1m31.885s 4.566s
18 Jolyon Palmer Renault 1m30.022s 2.703s
19 Carlos Sainz Toro Rosso/Renault 1m30.413s 3.094s
20 Fernando Alonso McLaren/Honda 1m30.687s 3.368s

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