Lewis Hamilton storms to Japanese GP pole to pile pressure on rivals

  • Sebastian Vettel third, but starts second after Valtteri Bottas penalty
  • Daniel Ricciardo and Max Verstappen next on grid at Suzuka

Lewis Hamilton took pole position for the Japanese Grand Prix with a mighty run that left his competitors in his wake. His Mercedes team-mate Valtteri Bottas was second, but three-tenths down on Hamilton and will take a five-place grid penalty after taking a replacement gearbox. The British driver’s rival for the world championship, Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel, could manage only third, four tenths down on Hamilton but will start on the front row after Bottas’s penalty. The two Red Bulls of Daniel Ricciardo and Max Verstappen were in fourth and fifth.

Hamilton’s 10th pole of the season takes him to a career total of 71 but is really significant in that it is the first time he has taken the top spot at Suzuka, acknowledged as one of the absolute classic circuits. He has been on pole at the Japanese GP twice before but on both occasions when the race was held at Fuji Speedway in 2007 and 2008. He converted it to a win in 2007 and has previously won twice here for Mercedes in 2014 and 2015, both years he went on to win the world championship.

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Source: Formula 1

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