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Japanese Grand Prix qualifying – F1: Live timing and lap-by-lap updates as Max Verstappen tops first qualifying session as he looks for a fourth consecutive pole while Lance Stroll drops out of Q1

Minnows in with a chance?

Alongside Esteban Ocon, Daniel Ricciardo, Yuki Tsunoda, Alex Albon, and Valtteri Bottas are all in this session and will be hoping to get into the top 10.

The exit of Stroll in Q1 has given them a chance to finish higher than expected, despite all of their cars struggling this season.

Happy times for Esteban Ocon

Esteban Ocon was delighted to get out of Q1. It has been a miserable season for him and Alpine so far.

SUZUKA, JAPAN - APRIL 06: Esteban Ocon of France and Alpine F1 walks in the Paddock prior to final practice ahead of the F1 Grand Prix of Japan at Suzuka International Racing Course on April 06, 2024 in Suzuka, Japan. (Photo by Clive Mason/Getty Images)

Henry Clark’s Q1 assessment

Well, there’s no doubt over the surprise of the session with Lance Stroll knocked out from Q1… while his Aston Martin team-mate splits the Red Bulls in second!

There was also a late improvement from Charles Leclerc, who went fourth quickest for Ferrari but remains almost half a second behind Max Verstappen.

Q1 drivers OUT: Horrible session for Lance Stroll

Max Verstappen came out on top in the first qualifying session with Fernando Alonso doing so credibly to get the second-best time.

His Aston Martin team-mate, Lance Stroll, is out though! And Zhou Guanyu is the slowest driver for the third qualifying session in a row.

16) Stroll – Aston Martin

SUZUKA, JAPAN - APRIL 06: Lance Stroll of Canada and Aston Martin F1 Team walks in the Paddock prior to final practice ahead of the F1 Grand Prix of Japan at Suzuka International Racing Course on April 06, 2024 in Suzuka, Japan. (Photo by Clive Mason/Getty Images)

McLaren looking happy

It has been a sleak session for McLaren, who are cruising through to the next round as expected.

Bottom five so far

Zhou, Magnussen, Sargeant, Hulkenberg, and Gasly are all at risk as they’re in the bottom five with just over a couple of minutes to go.

SUZUKA, JAPAN - APRIL 06: Pierre Gasly of France and Alpine enters the paddock during qualifying ahead of the F1 Grand Prix of Japan at Suzuka International Racing Course on April 6, 2024 in Suzuka, Japan. (Photo by Kym Illman/Getty Images)

Shaky from Mercedes so far

Hamilton and Russell currently have the seventh and eighth-best times in Q1, which would amount to their worst session of the weekend yet.

This is NOT the time to be slipping up. Can they find their feet?

WATCH: Russell barges in front of Piastri in the pits

Verstappen sets the early pace

Verstappen has put in the fastest time so far with 15 cars having done a lap.

He’s 0.388 seconds ahead of Alonso in second.

Russell and Piastri to be investigated for unsafe release

Russell and Piastri will be investgated after the session for unsafe release after Russell’s jab into the pack heading out of the pits.

They darted into the posse of cars rather than waiting to go at the back – understandable, considering how slow they were going – but that will see them have to explain themselves to the stewards.

JEDDAH, SAUDI ARABIA - MARCH 09: Yuki Tsunoda of Japan and Visa Cash App RB, Oscar Piastri of Australia and McLaren, George Russell of Great Britain and Mercedes and Daniel Ricciardo of Australia and Visa Cash App RB talk on the drivers parade prior to the F1 Grand Prix of Saudi Arabia at Jeddah Corniche Circuit on March 09, 2024 in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia. (Photo by Peter Fox - Formula 1/Formula 1 via Getty Images)

More cars getting out on track

A queue of cars has just entered the track at Suzuka. They have to back off to give each other a gap but this is always tricky to negotiate. You’ve got to keep your tyres warm without getting too close to the man in front.

George Russell barged his way into the stream of cars and that was slightly dangerous from the Brit.

Q1 underway!

Kevin Magnussen is the first driver to hit the track for Q1. He hasn’t been happy with the car and they’ve made some changes – he had the worst time in P3. The Dane is using a set of soft tyres in a bid to make it to Q2.

Haas driver Kevin Magnussen of Denmark waits in the garage before the second free practice session at the Suzuka Circuit in Suzuka, central Japan, Friday, April 5, 2024, ahead of Sunday's Japanese Formula One Grand Prix. (AP Photo/Hiro Komae)

Intimidating versions of Hamilton and Russell

Hats off to whoever put these dolls of Hamilton and Russell together, but I do find them somewhat spooky.

Russel Jr does not have a mouth, which should make radio communications awkward.

How’s your balance?

I’m just a bit bewildered by all this, to be honest.

How are the cans not tipping off his head at that angle? Who is he delivering them to? Did Verstappen and Perez know they would be recreated in miniature to advertise this chap’s fledgling drink-selling pursuit?

SUZUKA, JAPAN - APRIL 06: A Max Verstappen of the Netherlands and Oracle Red Bull Racing shows their support with a hat made of Red Bull cans prior to qualifying ahead of the F1 Grand Prix of Japan at Suzuka International Racing Course on April 06, 2024 in Suzuka, Japan. (Photo by Peter Fox/Getty Images)

Follow our reporter Henry Clark in Japan

Henry Clark is Mail Sport’s man on the ground for this weekend.

We’re just minutes out from qualifying now and he has been posting on X, so do make sure to follow him.

Lewis Hamilton: This is the BEST the car has felt this year

Lewis Hamilton has been in a buoyant mood following uplifting signs from the Silver Arrows this weekend so far.

He claims this is the best the car has felt all year – although the previous races haven’t been that hard to beat…

Home comforts for Ayumu Iwasa and Yuki Tsunoda

RB handed Ayumu Iwasa a debut at his home GP for the first couple of practice sessions and he has been lapping up the love from his home fans.

It’s the same for Yuki Tsunoda, who has been receiving plenty of love from the F1 faithful.

SUZUKA, JAPAN - APRIL 06: Ayumu Iwasa of Japan and Visa Cash App RB takes a photo on the fan stage prior to qualifying ahead of the F1 Grand Prix of Japan at Suzuka International Racing Course on April 06, 2024 in Suzuka, Japan. (Photo by Peter Fox/Getty Images)
SUZUKA, JAPAN - APRIL 06: A Yuki Tsunoda of Japan and Visa Cash App RB fan shows their support with a flag prior to qualifying ahead of the F1 Grand Prix of Japan at Suzuka International Racing Course on April 06, 2024 in Suzuka, Japan. (Photo by Peter Fox/Getty Images)

Ferrari laughing and joking… but not on the track

These Prancing Horse fans were certainly jocular as they donned their favourite hats, but the mood won’t be the same in the team’s garage.

Sky Sports are reporting that Ferrari have struggled to adapt to the temperatures in Japan and could be fourth-quickest in this qualifying behind Red Bull, Mercedes, and McLaren.

In P3, Carlos Sainz recorded the seventh-fastest time and Charles Leclerc could only manage 10th – worse than Yuki Tsunoda of RB.

Sky Sports’ Rachel Brookes said: ‘Ferrari aren’t as quick as we were expecting them this weekend. It seems like they are being affected by the warmer temperatures today – everyone was expecting it to be much cooler.

“It’s around 19 degrees today and this has potentially caught them out slightly, with these warmer temperatures not working for them right now.’

SUZUKA, JAPAN - APRIL 06: A pair of Ferrari fans show their support with horse hats prior to qualifying ahead of the F1 Grand Prix of Japan at Suzuka International Racing Course on April 06, 2024 in Suzuka, Japan. (Photo by Peter Fox/Getty Images)

Henry Clark: P3 wasn’t a breeze for Red Bull

Our reporter Henry Clark is out in Japan and has sent over this analysis of the third practice session… and it turns out it was rather turbulent for Red Bull!

‘There were a lot of keen eyes on this morning’s third and final practice session after the weather made yesterday’s second practice somewhat of a damp squib.

‘Out on track, Red Bull’s Max Verstappen went quickest but it was not plain-sailing for the Dutchman.

‘He complained of a vibrating mirror while Verstappen was also forced to take things into his own hands, quite literally, as he reached out of his cockpit to press down a piece of tape that had come loose on his car.

‘Team-mate Sergio Perez was second-quickest despite complaining about drivability issues with his car.

‘There were further encouraging signs for Mercedes with George Russell and Lewis Hamilton third and fourth-quickest respectively.’

SUZUKA, JAPAN - APRIL 6 : Max Verstappen (R), Oracle Red Bull Racing RB19 Honda RBTP (1), is seen in the pit lane during the last Free practice F1 Grand Prix of Japan at Suzuka International Circuit on April 6, 2024, in Suzuka, Japan. (Photo by David Mareuil/Anadolu via Getty Images)

WATCH: Oscar Piastri flaunts his Japanese skills

Did you know that Oscar Piastri knows some Japanese?

He might be from Australia, but it turns out he’s rather handy with the native language of this weekend’s GP.

Last time out

Back at the Australian GP, Max Verstappen’s car failure meant he surrendered his nine0race winning streak.

That gave Carlos Sainz the chance to steal in and claim the top step on the podium after returning from appendicitis.

Neither of the Mercedes cars finished. It has been a dire start to the season for them. Can they recover this weekend?

Formula One F1 - Australian Grand Prix - Melbourne Grand Prix Circuit, Melbourne, Australia - March 24, 2024 Ferrari's Carlos Sainz Jr. celebrates with the trophy after winning the Australian Grand Prix REUTERS/Mark Peterson

WATCH: Charles Leclerc rages at Ferrari crew

Charles Leclerc was irate when the decision to send him out late for a second flying lap, giving him less time on the track.

A rainy second practice session left teams with little chance to test themselves so there was even more onus on a good third session, which Leclerc clearly felt the Scuderia didn’t have!

A solid session for Mercedes in Practice 3

Red Bull completed a 1-2 in the third practice session, with Max Verstappen coming out on top with a time of 1:29.563, ahead of Sergio Perez 0.269s behind. 

Mercedes had an encouraging session, with George Russell recording the third-best time ahead of Lewis Hamilton in fourth. If they can repeat that form in qualifying then Toto Wolff will be a happy man.

epa11261768 Mercedes driver George Russell of Britain in action during the third practice session of the Formula 1 Japanese Grand Prix at the Suzuka International Racing Course in Suzuka, Japan, 06 April 2024. The 2024 Formula 1 Japanese Grand Prix is held on 07 April.  EPA/FRANCK ROBICHON

Good morning!

Good morning and welcome to Mail Sport’s live coverage of qualifying for the Japanese GP in Suzuka.

The first qualifying session is due to get underway at 3pm UK time to grab your popcorn, stick on your helmet, and do whatever you need to do to get in the mood for another cracker.

SUZUKA, JAPAN - APRIL 6 : Max Verstappen of Oracle Red Bull Racing is seen at the pit lane during the last Free practice F1 Grand Prix of Japan at Suzuka International Circuit on April 6, 2024, in Suzuka, Japan. (Photo by David Mareuil/Anadolu via Getty Images)
Key Updates

  • Q1 drivers OUT: Horrible session for Lance Stroll

  • WATCH: Russell barges in front of Piastri in the pits

  • Russell and Piastri to be investigated for unsafe release

  • Follow our reporter Henry Clark in Japan

  • Lewis Hamilton: This is the BEST the car has felt this year

  • Henry Clark: P3 wasn’t a breeze for Red Bull

  • A solid session for Mercedes in Practice 3





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