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Verstappen wins Suzuka pole ahead of McLaren's Piastri, Norris

Mark Thompson / Getty Images Sport / Getty

Championship leader Max Verstappen is back on top, clinching pole position for Sunday's Japanese Grand Prix by posting Saturday's fastest qualifying time at Suzuka International Racing Course.

It's a return to pole position for Verstappen, who had an uncharacteristically rough weekend at Singapore. He failed to make it into Q3 and finished the race fifth.

The Red Bull driver led both McLarens, with rookie Oscar Piastri slated to start alongside Verstappen in the front row. Lando Norris will start third alongside Ferrari's Charles Leclerc in the second row.

Pos. Driver Team Time
1 Max Verstappen Red Bull 1:28.877
2 Oscar Piastri McLaren +0.581
3 Lando Norris McLaren +0.616
4 Charles Leclerc Ferrari +0.665
5 Sergio Perez Red Bull +0.773
6 Carlos Sainz Ferrari +0.973
7 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes +1.031
8 George Russell Mercedes +1.342
9 Yuki Tsunoda AlphaTauri +1.426
10 Fernando Alonso Aston Martin +1.683
11 Liam Lawson AlphaTauri Q2
12 Pierre Gasly Alpine Q2
13 Alex Albon Williams Q2
14 Esteban Ocon Alpine Q2
15 Kevin Magnussen Haas Q2
16 Valtteri Bottas Alfa Romeo Q1
17 Lance Stroll Aston Martin Q1
18 Nico Hulkenberg Haas Q1
19 Zhou Guanyu Alfa Romeo Q1
20 Logan Sargeant Williams Q1

This is Verstappen's first pole position in three races, with Ferrari's Carlos Sainz claiming the top starting spot in both Italy and Singapore. Prior to that, Verstappen had claimed the front of the grid in six of eight races. He also posted the fastest time during qualifying at Spa but was hit with a five-place grid penalty and Leclerc was awarded pole.

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