The qualifying session of the 2022 Formula 1 Japanese Grand Prix was one of the best of the season, with several drivers fighting for pole position and in which the favorites were within a few thousandths of each other. However, the usual, the current champion, Max Verstappen, took a first position on the starting grid on Sunday that was still up in the air due to an investigation for bothering Lando Norris in the final Q3, but it ended with a reprimand.
The Dutchman, trying to warm up his tires on the preparation lap at the exit of the fast and mythical curve 130R , lost control of the rear of his RB18, which caused the British McLaren had to go through the grass to avoid impact. Moments later, the Red Bull driver apologized to the Englishman over the radio and on the track, standing in parallel to raise his hand as a sign of cordiality.
Leaving that incident aside, Verstappen garnered the 18th pole position of his life in Formula 1 at Suzuka, ahead of the two Ferraris by a few thousandths, and when he got out of the car he recounted how his lap was: “It was incredible to drive again here, especially in qualifying, when you’re low on fuel, these cars go really fast in the first sector.”
“Of course I’m very happy to get pole, but overall I’m very happy to be back,” said the Dutchman, before revealing that he had broken some parts of his car. “I lost a part of one of the ducts on my last lap, so maybe that’s why I couldn’t improve, but the first lap was good enough.”
Asked whether or not a penalty had been fair, Verstappen said: “I was driving quite slow, and I went to accelerate, but my tires were quite cold, so I had a big scare.”
“Later, Lando [Norris] was trying to pass me, so he had to avoid me, but luckily nothing happened,” said the pilot who has before him the option of being a two -time world champion, the 17th in all history.
About Sunday’s race in Japan, the Dutchman is confident, although he looks at the sky: “It will be interesting. Some say it will be dry, others that it will rain at some point in the race, so we have to see what happens with that, but I’m pretty sure we have a good car. I’m looking forward to tomorrow.”
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