World champion Lewis Hamilton is on pole for the final race in Japanese Grand Prix on Sunday, his 80th since his first at Canada Grand Prix in 2007. This is also his eighth pole of the season.
It was another big day for Mercedes, with a front-row lockout for the race tomorrow.
But another disappointing day for Ferrari. Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel is locked in the ninth place after an error.
The Mercedes team of Hamilton and Valtteri Bottas appeared to have read read the tricky weather perfectly in Suzuka Japan, ensuring that both of their drivers were able to bang in their best laps early in Q3 before the rain arrived to secure their fifth consecutive one-two in qualifying.
Max Verstappen was third for Red Bull on a day when team mate Daniel Ricciardo dropped out of Q2 with suspected power unit issues. The Dutchman finished ahead of the leading Ferrari of Kimi Raikkonen, with the Haas of Romain Grosjean a spendid P5.
It was a great qualifying, meanwhile, for Toro Rosso, with Brendon Hartley claiming his best ever grid position in sixth, one place ahead of team mate Pierre Gasly at the track that engine supplier Honda built back in 1962.
Esteban Ocon was eighth, ahead of Vettel, with his Force India team mate Sergio Perez winding up P10.
This, however, is a day that would be remembered for a Mercedes ‘masterstroke’…
Kimi Raikkonen starts fourth next to Max Verstappen on the second row.
Hamilton earlier on Saturday had limbered up for qualifying for the Japanese Grand Prix by posting the fastest lap in a rain-hit final free practice.
The Formula One championship leader pushed his Mercedes to a time of one minute, 29.599 seconds, just over a tenth quicker than Ferrari rival Sebastian Vettel after a typhoon downpour had forced all 20 cars to dive back into the Suzuka pits.
Hamilton leads Vettel by 50 points with just five races left this season.