Max Verstappen, the reigning world champion, secured pole position for the Japanese Formula One Grand Prix on Saturday, aiming to bounce back from a recent setback. Clocking 1 minute 28.197 seconds, Verstappen clinched his third consecutive pole at the Suzuka International Racing Course, maintaining a flawless record in qualifying this season and marking his 36th career pole.

His teammate, Sergio Perez, fiercely contested the pole, trailing by a mere .066 of a second. Lando Norris of McLaren secured third place, .292 behind Verstappen.

The pole position was a welcome relief for Red Bull, following a forgettable weekend in Australia where Verstappen retired early due to brake issues and Perez settled for fifth place after starting from the front row.

Verstappen commented on the challenges of the Suzuka track, emphasizing its sensitivity to tire management due to aggressive tarmac. Despite the difficulties, he expressed satisfaction with securing pole position and highlighted the importance of the upcoming race.

Perez, though slightly disappointed with narrowly missing pole, remained optimistic about their prospects for the race, citing improvements made in addressing their long-run pace concerns.

Verstappen currently leads the championship by four points, with Charles Leclerc of Ferrari trailing closely, and Perez a point further behind. Ferrari faced difficulties in Suzuka, with Leclerc managing only eighth place, while his teammate Carlos Sainz secured fourth.

Sainz acknowledged Suzuka as a challenging track for Ferrari but remained hopeful for a competitive race day, aiming to battle for podium positions against McLaren, Aston Martin, and Mercedes.

The Japanese fans celebrated Yuki Tsunoda’s achievement of making it into Q3 and securing 10th place on the grid for Visa-RB, adding to the excitement of the race weekend.