The Japanese Grand Prix is today and Max Verstappen is looking to clinch his second Formula 1 World Championship. A series of permutations will decide whether the Red Bull driver finishes the job today, but a victory with a fastest lap fast will guarantee a successful defense of his title.
Verstappen started on pole position at Suzuka ahead of the Ferrari duo of Charles Leclerc and Carlos Sainz, followed by Sergio Perez. Lewis Hamilton starts sixth with George Russell back eighth in the Mercedes cars ahead of a wet race with rain expected to fall heavily on the circuit before the lights go out.
A qualifying near miss between Verstappen and Norris had threatened to penalize the poleman, but he got away with just a reprimand. Sky Sports F1 will broadcast the race live in the UK. Keep up to date with all the action from Japan with the Standard Sport live blog below!
Summary of qualifications
Max Verstappen is on track to wrap up a second straight F1 title after taking pole position for the Japanese Grand Prix.
The runaway championship leader trailed Ferrari rival Charles Leclerc by just 0.010 seconds in qualifying at Suzuka Circuit on Saturday, with Carlos Sainz also just 0.057 seconds off the pace in his Ferrari in third.
“It was amazing to drive here again, of course very happy to be on pole but just super happy to be back here,” Verstappen said after taking his 18th career pole and fifth this season.
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Hamilton praised for Mercedes team speech
Lewis Hamilton has been praised for a key team conversation with the Mercedes works team amid their difficult season.
Mercedes technical director Mike Elliott said: “He’s here late at night working with us, trying to get the most out of the car, and I think that’s just encouragement for everyone else in the team to see the contribution he makes.
“Lewis also spoke to the factory probably almost two weeks ago and got up and spoke to them and he’s been brilliant. I imagine what you expect from a character like Lewis – directing properly, bringing properly energy to the team.
“I think that’s what we need to face a tough winter.”
Get ready for a wet…
There is a very high chance of rain today with currently difficult conditions at Suzuka, but a front is coming in with light winds and unlikely to pass it on quickly.
Temperatures are around 17°C.
How they line up at Suzuka today.
How to watch
TV channel: In the UK, the race will be shown live on Sky Sports F1 and Sky Sports Main Event. Grand Prix coverage on Sunday begins at 4:30 a.m. BST, with race coverage starting at 5:55 a.m.
The race is repeated from 9.30am on both channels, with free highlights available to watch on Channel 4 at 12.30pm.
Direct: Sky Sports subscribers can also stream the race action live online via the SkyGo app.
LIVE Blog: You can also follow the race as it happens with Standard Sport’s live blog.
Rise and Shine!
Hello and welcome to Standard Sport’s live coverage of the F1 Japanese Grand Prix!
Max Verstappen can claim his second world championship today and he starts on pole at Suzuka.
The race starts at 6am BST, and you can catch up on all the action here…