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Japanese Grand Prix race – F1: Live timing and lap-by-lap updates as Max Verstappen looks to convert pole position into a race win

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Drivers with something to prove

There are a number of drivers you feel are in need of a big performance today.

Lance Stroll qualified all the way down in 16th compared to his team-mate Fernando Alonso in 5th. The Canadian whose father runs the Aston Martin team continues to struggle to keep up with his 42-year-old team-mate and needs to show much better pace today.

Also Daniel Ricciardo has had a tough start to the season. He was close to his team-mate Tsunoda in qualifying but is yet to score a point this season.

Also Lewis Hamilton in P7, Charles Leclerc in P8 and Lewis Hamilton in P9 – not the best of Saturdays for them but watch out for those three trying to get get through the field this morning.

SUZUKA, JAPAN - APRIL 07: Daniel Ricciardo of Australia and Visa Cash App RB prepares to drive on the grid prior to the F1 Grand Prix of Japan at Suzuka International Racing Course on April 07, 2024 in Suzuka, Japan. (Photo by Peter Fox/Getty Images)

Mercedes hoping for big improvement

It has been a horrendous start to the season for Mercedes, so much so, that team principal Toto Wolff had to cancel his planned break off to travel with the team for this weekend’s race.

Lewis Hamilton is suffering his worst ever start to a season with just eight points to his name, while George Russell has 18 – but crashed last time out in Australia while chasing Fernando Alonso.

Both drivers have said that the car is handling much better this weekend and seem to be optimistic that they have made progress.

P7 and P9 in qualifying doesn’t truly reflect that, though Lewis Hamilton was just five tenths off Verstappen compared to 1.1 seconds last year in Japan.

Question today is do they have the pace to beat the likes of Ferrari, McLaren and even the Aston Martin of Fernando Alonso.

Mercedes driver Lewis Hamilton of Britain arrives to participate the driver's track parade prior to the Japanese Formula One Grand Prix at the Suzuka Circuit in Suzuka, central Japan, Sunday, April 7, 2024. (AP Photo/Hiro Komae)

Can Lando Norris finally break his duck?

A fortnight ago in Melbourne, the Brit became the unfortunate holder of a dubious honour, that being the driver with the most podium finishes without a single race win to their name.

It is going to be a big ask to stop Verstappen and Red Bull, but the McLaren star is dreaming of a first victory.

Click below to read more…

Drivers’ parade

The atmosphere is building at Suzuka and the drivers have already been around the circuit to be introduced to the fans ahead of the race.

Max Verstappen looks calm and composed. Things didn’t exactly work out for him last time in Australia when he suffered a DNF due to a brake issue.

He will be determined to extend what is a four-point advantage over Charles Leclerc, with victory in Japan today.

And what about Yuki Tsunoda, the only Japanese driver on the grid, who qualified an impressive 10th in his AlphaTauri.

He has comfortably had the better of experienced team-mate Daniel Ricciardo so far this season and he would love some big points today.

SUZUKA, JAPAN - APRIL 07: Max Verstappen of the Netherlands and Oracle Red Bull Racing waves to the crowd on the drivers parade prior to the F1 Grand Prix of Japan at Suzuka International Racing Course on April 07, 2024 in Suzuka, Japan. (Photo by Clive Rose - Formula 1/Formula 1 via Getty Images)
Red Bull driver Max Verstappen of the Netherlands, right, andAston Martin driver Fernando Alonso of Spain, left, walk to attend the driver's track parade prior to the Japanese Formula One Grand Prix at the Suzuka Circuit in Suzuka, central Japan, Sunday, April 7, 2024. (AP Photo/Hiro Komae)
Mercedes driver George Russell of Britain walks to participate the driver's track parade prior to the Japanese Formula One Grand Prix at the Suzuka Circuit in Suzuka, central Japan, Sunday, April 7, 2024. (AP Photo/Hiro Komae)
RB's Japanese driver Yuki Tsunoda waves as he takes part in the drivers' parade before the start of the Formula One Japanese Grand Prix race at the Suzuka circuit in Suzuka, Mie prefecture on April 7, 2024. (Photo by Toshifumi KITAMURA / AFP) (Photo by TOSHIFUMI KITAMURA/AFP via Getty Images)

Max Verstappen starts on pole

As the off-track drama continues at Red Bull, on track they continue to look the dominant force, as shown by qualifying for today’s race.

Max Verstappen made it four poles in as many races, though team-mate Sergio Perez – who hadn’t been on the front row for the last 20 races – was incredibly close to pipping his team-mate.

Lewis Hamilton and George Russell feel better about their Mercedes challenger this weekend, though it didn’t exactly show in terms of their placing on the grid for today’s race.

Meanwhile, it was Lando Norris who was best of the rest, to finish ahead of the likes of Ferrari, Aston Martin, Mercedes and his team-mate Oscar Piastri.

Click below for our full report of qualifying yesterday

Good morning!

And welcome to Mail Sport’s live blog for the Japanese Grand Prix!

Thank you to all of you who have joined me bright and early for what hopefully should be a cracking race to get Sunday underway!

We are just under an hour away from lights out and we will be bringing you all the build-up to the race and the lap-by-lap updates from the race at the iconic Suzuka circuit.

Ferrari managed to stop Red Bull last time out in Australia, can anyone do the same today?

Kick Sauber's Finnish driver Valtteri Bottas (top L) chats with Mercedes' British driver Lewis Hamilton (top R) as they take part in the drivers' parade before the start of the Formula One Japanese Grand Prix race at the Suzuka circuit in Suzuka, Mie prefecture on April 7, 2024. (Photo by Philip FONG / AFP) (Photo by PHILIP FONG/AFP via Getty Images)





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