Lewis Hamilton will hold pole position at the 2018 Japanese Formula One Grand Prix on Sunday after going fastest in Saturday’s qualifying session at Suzuka, while title rival Sebastian Vettel will start in ninth.

On a day in which there were two reg flags and several more incidents caused by some wet and windy weather, Vettel went wide on a flying lap in Q3 and was more than four seconds behind Hamilton, who set a time of one minute, 27.760 seconds.

His Mercedes team-mate Valtteri Bottas will start behind him in second, while Max Verstappen claimed P3.

Earlier, Hamilton had made it a hat-trick in practice as he topped the third session, having been the fastest on both occasions on Friday.


Qualifying Recap

Here’s the classification after Q3:

Vettel set the early benchmark in Q1 but was quickly surpassed by Hamilton.

The German went for a spin, but moments later Marcus Ericsson lost control and crashed his Sauber at Turn 7, leading to the emergence of a red flag for the second time on Saturday:

Ericsson’s session was over, and he was eliminated along with Nico Hulkenberg—who managed to get out there when the session restarted thanks to his mechanics at Renault following his earlier crash—Sergey Sirotkin, Fernando Alonso and Stoffel Vandoorne.

A strong effort from Charles Leclerc saw him secure P6 in Q1, but he could only manage P11 with the single lap he completed in a rain-soaked Q2, which Bottas topped. 

Leclerc failed to make the cut for Q3 with Kevin Magnussen, Carlos Sainz, Lance Stroll and a frustrated Daniel Ricciardo, whose Red Bull lost power:

Both Toro Rosso’s made it through to Q3, and they’ll be delighted after Brendon Hartley and Pierre Gasly secured P6 and P7, respectively.

It was a disaster for Vettel, though. Ferrari gambled by heading out on intermediates—the only team not on dry tyres—but after switching to slicks Vettel made a costly error on what was his only notable run of Q3.


FP3 Recap

Here’s the classification from FP3:

F1’s official Twitter account shared a look at some of the highlights from the session:

The session was hit by rain and some strong winds early on, forcing the cars back into the pits, but after the weather cleared up the teams were able to get back out there.

The damp track did cause a few problems, though, as Stroll and Leclerc ran wide under the bridge, while Kimi Raikkonen slid off too.

While they were able to continue, Hulkenberg wasn’t so lucky as he spun into the barriers, prompting a  red flag to bring the session to a slightly premature close.

Shortly beforehand, Hamilton had topped the standings ahead of his Ferrari rivals.

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