Stern Test For Top Challengers As Hamilton Start Japan GP in Pole

Lewis Hamilton was fastest in qualifying this morning in Suzuka and that ensures that he will Start tomorrow’s race in Pole position for the first time in his career.

The Briton also posted a record lap time of 1:27.319 which is 1.5 seconds quicker that Micheal Schumacher’s record lap 11 years ago to set a new fastest lap record in Formula 1.

Pole position in Suzuka also means Hamilton has now claimed pole position at least once in his career on every circuit presently on the Formula 1 calender.

“I was very much on it,” said Hamilton. I didn’t make one mistake and each lap got better and better. It’s been 10 years trying to get that pole position!”

Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel will start the race tomorrow alongside his Mercedes rival despite finishing almost half of a second behind the W08.

Mercedes Valterie Bottas actually finished second in qualifying but will start from seventh as he was one of five drivers who were handed grid penalties.

“I tried everything on that last lap as I knew I had to take a bit more risks, it didn’t work,” said Vettel, who trails Hamilton by 34 points in the standings.

The Red Bull pair of Daniel Ricciardo and Max Verstappen also benefit from Bottas’ demotion and will be on the second row with Ricciardo slightly edging the young Dutchman who was champion in Malaysia last weekend.

McLaren’s Fernando Alonso finished in tenth just above his team mate Stoffel Vandoorne but he was also handed a grid penalty after his car was massively overhauled on Friday night leaving the youngster as McLaren’s major hope of scoring points on Sunday.

The Japanese zooms off in Suzuka 6am Sunday morning