Courtesy of Red Bull Media Service
Australian starts Sunday’s Japanese GP third with Verstappen alongside him.
With Valtteri Bottas and Kimi Raikkonen dropping down the grid due to gearbox penalties, Australian Ricciardo will start third while last week’s winner Verstappen is fourth alongside him on the second row.
Scuderia Toro Rosso duo Pierre Gasly and Carlos Sainz struggled to go deep into qualifying and they will start 14th and 19th respectively with the Spaniard handed a 20-place penalty for a power unit change.
Position: 4th*, 1:28.306
“Once again it was pretty close between myself and Max today. I got the half a tenth on Max this time and he’d had it on me in Qualifying in the last few races. It was pretty important to be ahead and I will start third now because of Bottas’ penalty which puts me on the cleaner side of the grid, so thank you Valtteri. I will take everything I can for now and I’m happy with that result. I had a slightly different set-up from Max today and chose to remove some downforce which I hope will help me in the race. I haven’t seen Lewis’ lap yet but I’ve seen his time and we can’t quite do that, I think we feel we got pretty much everything out of the car today and we definitely couldn’t find a second. We will see what tomorrow brings but I think if we can stay in a podium position we will be leaving here pretty happy. The start will be really important for us, it’s a pretty tricky track to overtake on and strategy is likely to play in to it but if I can get them on the start then hopefully that will be where I stay. I hope I get my first Suzuka podium, it’s always been a fun track but I’ve never stood on the podium so that’s my target.”
Position: 5th**, 1:28.332
“It wasn’t an ideal Qualifying session for me, Q1 and Q2 went well but then we tried a few changes for Q3 which put me out of my rhythm a bit. The time was still ok but I think I could have got a bit more out of it at the end. It was a better second timed lap but I think I could have finished a position higher, it was very tight. The new cars mean higher corner speed which at this track essentially means some corners turn into longer straights, it’s a bit more physical and obviously means faster lap times. This also means it is a tougher track for us than in the years before. I think the Mercedes race pace is quick but we are unsure of how Ferrari are looking, tomorrow will tell. We gain one spot with Bottas’ penalty so all we can do is fight and try to progress from P4. I would like rain but that isn’t going to happen so hopefully with the dry weather we have good degradation and can challenge for a good result. Daniel and I are running different configurations tomorrow so we will have to see how they play come the race. I hope the people in front make Turn 1 interesting tomorrow but not for me. I like sandwiches but not on the track.”
Carlos Sainz (STR12-01, Car 55)
Qualifying – Best lap: (Q1) 1:30.565, (Q2) 1:30.413, pos. 15th (20 grid position penalty tomorrow)
“The results on the timesheet look worse than what it really is, because in Q2 we decided not to run any new tyres – we only went out on the ones used in Q1. The reason for this is that we want to have all the strategic options available to us for tomorrow as we’ll be starting from the very back of the grid due to the grid penalty. So today’s Q2 was a bit weird – we used it just to do some practice starts and ran on the used tyres… Not what we’re used to doing! Therefore, it’s a qualifying I didn’t really enjoy, but it was a sacrifice thinking about tomorrow, when I’ll appreciate it more than now. Hopefully we can have a good race and perform another good comeback using the new tyres still available from today!”
Pierre Gasly (STR12-04, Car 10)
Qualifying – Best lap: (Q1) 1:31.317, pos. 17th
“How annoying, today’s wasn’t a good qualifying for me… I had quite a big moment during my best lap in Q1 and I locked the car in the first sector, almost going off track. Luckily I finished the lap, but it wasn’t a clean one. I expected to improve quite a lot in my second run but in the end we didn’t get this opportunity because of the session being red-flagged… So I’m disappointed about the final result because we had the potential to get into Q2. Hopefully tomorrow we can have a good race and I can manage the tyres well, extract the most out of the car and see where we end up!”