Max Verstappen, Red Bull, Suzuka, 2022

Verstappen beats Ferraris to pole but faces investigation for Norris incident

2022 Japanese Grand Prix qualifying

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Max Verstappen narrowly beat the Ferrari drivers to pole position for the Japanese Grand Prix at Suzuka.

But the Red Bull driver, who can win the world championship tomorrow, has been summoned by the stewards following an incident with Lando Norris. The McLaren driver ran onto the grass to prevent himself hitting the eventual pole-winner as the pair prepared to start their first flying laps in Q3.

In a tight qualifying session, Verstappen beat Charles Leclerc to pole by just one-hundredth of a second, with Carlos Sainz Jnr taking third.


It was a quiet start to the first phase of qualifying, with only a handful of cars taking to the circuit when the session began at the top of the hour. Appropriately enough, the first driver to set a lap time was the Japanese driver, Yuki Tsunoda. He posted a 1’31.631 to beat team mate Pierre Gasly by four tenths and earn a polite round of applause from the fans in the grandstands.

Lando Norris navigated through traffic in the middle sector to move ahead of the AlphaTauris at the top of the times by two tenths. Then the two Mercedes drivers Lewis Hamilton and George Russell completed their first flying laps on the medium compound tyres – the only drivers eschewing softs for their run.

Max Verstappen opted for the softs and instantly went quickest with a 1’30.224, almost four tenths quicker than team mate Sergio Perez. Then the Ferraris of Carlos Sainz Jnr and Charles Leclerc posted their first times of qualifying, with the pair splitting the two Red Bulls with Sainz second and Leclerc in third.

After their first laps on the medium tyres, both Hamilton and Russell were both in need of improvements to their times in order to avoid being in danger of elimination. With under five minutes to go, the pair headed out on soft tyres with the track virtually to themselves and promptly improved to both move inside the top ten.

That left Zhou Guanyu, Kevin Magnussen, Sebastian Vettel and the two Williams of Nicholas Latifi and Alexander Albon sitting in the drop zone as drivers prepared for their final laps of the session.

Latifi improved, but not by enough to progress into Q2. Vettel and Zhou both put in better laps to move safe, which knocked Magnussen and Lance Stroll into the drop zone and out. Pierre Gasly, who complained about “massive pulling” when he hit the brakes, made a mistake at the hairpin which also sealed his fate in the AlphaTauri. “It’s a joke,” he fumed further around his lap. Albon narrowly missed getting through to Q2 by five-hundredths of a second on his final effort, while Vettel squeaked through.

Q1 result

11Max VerstappenRed BullRB181’30.2243
255Carlos Sainz JnrFerrariF1-751’30.3360.1123
316Charles LeclercFerrariF1-751’30.4020.1783
414Fernando AlonsoAlpine-RenaultA5221’30.6030.3793
511Sergio PerezRed BullRB181’30.6220.3983
631Esteban OconAlpine-RenaultA5221’30.6960.4726
763George RussellMercedesW131’30.8650.6417
83Daniel RicciardoMcLaren-MercedesMCL361’30.8800.6565
94Lando NorrisMcLaren-MercedesMCL361’30.8810.6577
1024Zhou GuanyuAlfa Romeo-FerrariC421’30.8940.6706
1144Lewis HamiltonMercedesW131’30.9060.6828
1222Yuki TsunodaAlphaTauri-Red BullAT031’31.1300.9069
1347Mick SchumacherHaas-FerrariVF-221’31.1520.9286
1477Valtteri BottasAlfa Romeo-FerrariC421’31.2261.0026
155Sebastian VettelAston Martin-MercedesAMR221’31.2561.0326
1623Alexander AlbonWilliams-MercedesFW441’31.3111.0876
1710Pierre GaslyAlphaTauri-Red BullAT031’31.3221.0989
1820Kevin MagnussenHaas-FerrariVF-221’31.3521.1286
1918Lance StrollAston Martin-MercedesAMR221’31.4191.1956
206Nicholas LatifiWilliams-MercedesFW441’31.5111.2878

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The sun began breaking through the clouds hanging over the Suzuka circuit as the second segment of qualifying got underway. Ferrari chose to send both Sainz and Leclerc out on a used set of soft tyres as the session began – Sainz narrowly beating Leclerc by less than five hundredths of a second.

After the Ferraris’ laps were completed, Red Bull were next out on track – also on used softs. Verstappen’s first lap was good enough to see him go quickest of all, a tenth of a second ahead of Sainz at the top of the times.

Mercedes fitted fresh softs to both cars, but despite their new tyres, the pair could only manage sixth place for Hamilton and ninth for Russell, meaning both would have to head out again.

The track fell silent until less than four minutes remaining. Just half a second covered the top ten positions that would all be set to progress through to Q3, with the five drivers at risk of elimination being Lando Norris, Vettel, Zhou, Mick Schumacher and Tsunoda slowest in 15th.

Only Verstappen and the two Ferraris chose not to run again in the final minutes. Vettel, qualifying at his favourite circuit for the final time, produced a superb lap which bumped Valtteri Bottas into 11th. The Alfa Romeo driver could not find the seven-thousands of a second he needed to reach Q3 and was out.

Zhou improved on his final effort, but not by enough to do any better than 14th, while Tsunoda split the two Alfa Romeos but was also eliminated in 13th. Russell was the last car able to improve and jumped from 11th to seventh, which knocked Ricciardo out of qualifying by just three-thousandths of a second behind Vettel.

Mick Schumacher was the final driver cut from the second segment in 15th, almost half a second adrift of Zhou ahead of him.

Q2 result

111Sergio PerezRed BullRB181’29.9259
214Fernando AlonsoAlpine-RenaultA5221’30.3430.4189
31Max VerstappenRed BullRB181’30.3460.4216
431Esteban OconAlpine-RenaultA5221’30.3570.43212
544Lewis HamiltonMercedesW131’30.4430.51814
655Carlos Sainz JnrFerrariF1-751’30.4440.5196
763George RussellMercedesW131’30.4650.54013
84Lando NorrisMcLaren-MercedesMCL361’30.4730.54813
916Charles LeclercFerrariF1-751’30.4860.5616
105Sebastian VettelAston Martin-MercedesAMR221’30.6560.73112
113Daniel RicciardoMcLaren-MercedesMCL361’30.6590.73411
1277Valtteri BottasAlfa Romeo-FerrariC421’30.7090.78412
1322Yuki TsunodaAlphaTauri-Red BullAT031’30.8080.88315
1424Zhou GuanyuAlfa Romeo-FerrariC421’30.9531.02812
1547Mick SchumacherHaas-FerrariVF-221’31.4391.51412

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Having saved a set of soft tyres reaching Q3, Verstappen and the two Ferraris headed out on fresh softs for their first flying laps as the third and final phase of qualifying began.

Verstappen headed out ahead of Norris on track and slowed down on the exit of the 130R to warm up his tyres ahead of starting his flying lap. However, Norris was approaching behind at much faster speed and had to suddenly take avoiding action over the grass on the inside to prevent a collision with the Red Bull. The stewards announced that they would investigate the near-miss after qualifying.

Leclerc was the first of the pole position favourites to complete their first timed lap, breaking under the 1’30s for the first time. He was a tenth-and-a-half faster than team mate Leclerc, with Perez almost three tenths behind the Ferraris.

Verstappen took provisional pole with his first lap, posting a 1’29.304 to go a quarter of a second faster than Leclerc’s previous best time. On his way back into the pit lane, Verstappen passed Norris and offered a gesture of apology to the McLaren driver for their earlier near-miss.

Leclerc was again the first driver over the line to start his final lap, but while he improved by over two tenths, he was still just one-hundredth of a second away from Verstappen’s provisional pole time. Sainz also improved on his last effort, but he also failed to improve his position, going within a tenth of Verstappen.

With Verstappen already assured of pole, it was a question of whether he could lower his own pole time with his final effort. However, he ran wide on the exit of turn two and lost a small piece of bodywork over the kerbs. Verstappen completed the lap, but did not improve on his first time, however, pole position was still his.

Perez secured fourth behind Verstappen and the two Ferraris, with Esteban Ocon taking fifth on the grid with Lewis Hamilton alongside him. Fernando Alonso will start seventh on the grid, ahead of Russell in the second Mercedes. Vettel was thrilled to conclude his final qualifying at Suzuka with ninth on the grid, while Norris could only manage tenth, the slowest of the drivers in Q3

Q3 result

11Max VerstappenRed BullRB181’29.30412
216Charles LeclercFerrariF1-751’29.3140.01012
355Carlos Sainz JnrFerrariF1-751’29.3610.05712
411Sergio PerezRed BullRB181’29.7090.40515
531Esteban OconAlpine-RenaultA5221’30.1650.86118
644Lewis HamiltonMercedesW131’30.2610.95720
714Fernando AlonsoAlpine-RenaultA5221’30.3221.01814
863George RussellMercedesW131’30.3891.08519
95Sebastian VettelAston Martin-MercedesAMR221’30.5541.25015
104Lando NorrisMcLaren-MercedesMCL361’31.0031.69918

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2022 Japanese Grand Prix

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Will Wood
Will has been a RaceFans contributor since 2012 during which time he has covered F1 test sessions, launch events and interviewed drivers. He mainly...

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58 comments on “Verstappen beats Ferraris to pole but faces investigation for Norris incident”

  1. Max will get away with no panalty knowing this corrupt fia. He almost took out another driver just wait and see nothing will happen. The fia is a joke they failed last week where Perez 3 time’s made a safety car infringement and only got 5 sec. Horner must be bending forwards for Muhammed

    1. They probably won’t get a penalty – not because it’s Red Bull – but simply because they have never and will never properly clamp down on cars going unnecessarily slowly.

      1. Actually, Crofty (and Button) read the rule live, and things seem pretty straightforward. But I trust that he will keep P1.

        1. They didn’t read any rules – they described an unwritten, unenforceable and often neglected ‘gentlemen’s agreement.’

          1. I see what you did there with the letters.

          2. I agree. It is not a matter of wanting to benefit one team or another, it is pure and simple incompetence. They’re not going to do anything about the cars being slow in qualifying until something serious happens.

    2. exactly right

    3. The Mercedes propaganda is certainly not wasted on some.

  2. What would you even penalize? Norris was on an outlap too, saw Max disappear around a corner and lost sight of him (so we can easily understand Max also lost sight of Norris), then sped up a lot for bake warming, while Max was weaving for tire warming.

    It was unfortunate. It was clearly a misunderstanding. Anyone that calls for a penalty here isn’t calling for one out of fairness or as a cal, for safety, and they know it,

    1. @sjaakfoo I think the issue will be with Max slowing down the way he did, and while by itself it isn’t illegal, it was probably a mitigating factor in his mistake.

      1. Eh, as I said, Norris sped up massively, and it was a blind corner for Max and Norris at that. I assume both drivers will acknowledge it’s a miscommunication.

      2. It seem to be illegal. The rule Crofty read said it’s forbidden to drive unncessesarily slow and reckless. VER did both. He has mirrors too, and a team (to warn him) too.

        1. @mg1982 Both were on outlaps, this wasn’t a case of one faster driver and a blue flag.

          Expecting teams and drivers to expect a late lunge on an outlap in a (blind) corner at that speed doesn’t seem to me to be the application of that particular rule.

          1. Expecting teams and drivers to expect a late lunge on an outlap in a (blind) corner at that speed…

            That’s the exact reason that rule exists.

          2. Your reasonable logical argument is falling on deaf ears here. As per usual S has his blinkers on and doesn’t understand the rules very well. There should be no penalty for that incident.

          3. As per usual S has his blinkers on and doesn’t understand the rules very well. There should be no penalty for that incident.

            On the contrary – I do understand the rules very well, and that’s exactly why I’m saying there should be a penalty. This incident (luckily without the potential consequences) is exactly why there is a rule telling drivers not to go so slow.

            ‘Deaf ears’ are ignoring the rule and the logic behind it simply because F1 has consistently chosen not to apply it in the past.

          4. @sjaakfoo the regulation that has been cited in the summons for Verstappen is article 33.4 of the sporting regulations. That regulation states “At no time may a car be driven unnecessarily slowly, erratically or in a manner which could be deemed potentially dangerous to other drivers or any other person.”.

            Your argument that “they were on outlaps” is therefore completely irrelevant, because the regulation states that it applies at all times that a driver is on the circuit. Whether the stewards believe that the other criteria apply is another matter, but the fact that they were on outlaps doesn’t mean that the rule no longer applies.

    2. Anyone that calls for a penalty here isn’t calling for one out of fairness or as a cal, for safety, and they know it,

      Those are exactly two of the three reasons I would call for a penalty – with the third being that it’s written in the sporting regs that competitors must never drive unnecessarily slowly. Applying the rules as written is desirable in F1, isn’t it?

      Only sometimes, it seems.

    3. It was unfortunate. It was clearly a misunderstanding. Anyone that calls for a penalty here isn’t calling for one out of fairness or as a cal, for safety, and they know it


    4. the only weave Max did was when Lando appeared in his mirror, or was told by the team. He clearly tried to stop Lando going past into the next corner. A judgement that could have killed both.

  3. Any driver but RBR would get a grid penalty for that

  4. Did no one listen to Max’s on board? He accelerated and the back end stepped.

  5. If Latifi or Stroll for instance had done what Max did, it would be a slam dunk penalty.

  6. Electroball76
    8th October 2022, 9:04

    If Abu Dhabi wants a Ferrari – Red Bull showdown for the championship then the FIA will need to be very creative with the rules to achieve that now

    1. A dsq for 3-4 races ala schumacher 1994 seems the only way!

      1. :D And how pleased some “fans” would be.

    2. Easy, for ongoing advantage of budget cap breaches last year they will say last years title cannot be changed but will take 100 points off Verstappen and Perez for this season. Title back on.

  7. It’s a slam dunk penalty.

    Anyone who says otherwise is probably from the Orange army .

    1. Ben Rowe (@thegianthogweed)
      8th October 2022, 10:45

      Hamilton didn’t get a penalty for this:

      And both Sirotkin and Raikkonen were on hot laps. Norris was not and verstappen won’t have been told. Hamilton’s moves was a careless attempt to move out of the way which made things worse. Verstappen wasn’t aware Norris was there, and Norris had no need to be going that fast. The only error verstappen made was than him trying to warm his tyres up made him make a mistake. A reprimand was appropriate, but hamilton should have had a grid penalty for what he did.

    2. Psychologists call this “projection”

    3. It was unfortunate. It was clearly a misunderstanding. Anyone that calls for a penalty here isn’t calling for one out of fairness or as a cal, for safety, and they know it

  8. The usual top, but Mercs, especially Russell, qualified surprisingly lowly.

    1. @jerejj, gambling on a wet race perhaps?

  9. Do people want to give penalties to Max just because he is winning or just because it was a penalty worthy mistake. I bet on the first one

    1. You don’t think that driving so slowly on a green race track is at least a little bit irresponsible?
      Never mind actually against the rules…?

    2. @qeki @S Reprimand is wholly consistent with rulings in other similar incidents.

      1. Consistently against the FIA’s own written rules. Yes, I’m aware of that.

  10. Question. Will RBR be able to replace the bit that Max broke off?

    As I see it, he should have to start the race with his car in the condition he finished qualifying, but teams seem to be allowed to fix things now.

    Love to know what the answer actually is.

    1. @dbradock Pieces fall off during qualifyings every now & then, with teams replacing or fixing them, so wholly allowed under parc ferme.

  11. If this isn’t a penalty then we will see people like Alonso make full use of it to 1. hold people back, 2. destroy others laptimes by forcing them of the track. It’s a very clear definition of driving unnecessarily slow (article 27.4) and dangerously, plus forcing another driver of the track, which should result in a tripple penalty depending on his overall data for the timed outlap. They made that exact rule due to Mercedes powered cars driving extremely slow on their outlaps which held everyone back. So one for driving dangerously, one for forcing another driver of the track and one for article 27.4. And yet we all know he won’t get more than one at best.

    God I hate people who hide behind the arguement that others want to enforce a penalty because it is Verstappen. No this applies to every single driver on the grid.

    1. Precisely.
      All the arguments from Abu Dhabi last year calling for the rules to be applied properly, and today we see calls for the rules to be ignored because nobody got hurt and this happens regularly without incident.
      I mean, who would think that a car could be at racing speed on a green race track during qualifying? How unlikely…

      F1 fans can be quite inconsistent at times.

      1. Actually I think a lot of fans who didn’t want the rules following in Abu Dhabi are the same ones not wanting them followed now either.

        I would have liked a 3 place drop for the move but at least he was reprimanded.

        If you don’t want another car to overtake you on your outlap then drive faster, it’s quite simple.

        1. Maybe you’re right – rules are nothing but an obstruction to some, just on principle.
          Though there are definitely some who are of the opinion that (subjectively) unimportant or innocuous rules shouldn’t be applied, while (subjectively) important ones should be. And it depends on who it is applied to, of course.
          To me, a rule is a rule. If it’s the wrong rule, then change it or remove it – but while it’s there, it needs to be enforced strongly and consistently.

          I think a reprimand means nothing until there are enough to get an actual penalty. It’s the equivalent of someone waving a finger and saying “naughty.” It has no impact in preventing something from happening again.

          And I agree with your final comment – although that’s not really the problem in this case.
          Being relatively slower isn’t necessarily a problem, but being objectively slow to the point of being a dangerous road blockage is.

    2. @JA Reprimand has been the common ruling in similar incidents.


        Cant recall similar incidents, best i recall would be Hartley and Gasly during QF in Baku 2018, but that was during flyers and without the erratic change of direction. The consensus have been reprimande for impeding during out laps. But here we are talking numerous breaches of articles and with the stewards already made it public they would stamp down harder on impeding by slowing down as per the link. Apparently they didnt wanna follow up as they threatened to do.

  12. Once upon a time there were nearly twice the amount of cars on track in qualifying and practice and there were no such penalties, never any incidents and everyone behaved.

    1. That’s when drivers used to respect each other. Now they see showing manners and respect as a sign of weakness.

      I think it’s also fair to say the Pirelli tyres with their silly temp windows have aggravated the situation as team need to prepare their tyres differently hence some are slow and others fast on out laps.

      1. The whole tyre thing certainly doesn’t help. I also fail to see how F1 brings value to their brand as all we ever do is complain about their tyres.

  13. Itsmeagain (@)
    8th October 2022, 13:43

    You mean the same respect Lewis is showing here?

    The same fault but than with someone on a hot lap involved. Not penalized at all. Can you exactly tell me what the difference and why are so many people here claiming it is worth a penalty? Must be the orange glasses, isn’t it?

    1. Ah, the old “Got it wrong once, so it needs to be wrong every time” argument.
      And then that classic “Must be biased” addition to top it off.

      By the way, people with “orange glasses” would be calling for no penalty at all, seeing as Verstappen was the one at fault.

      1. If it would be anywhere else on the track instead of the last corner, used to get the best launch for a flying lap. And if Lando would have been on a flying lap instead of also prepping, then maybe there would be a reason for more than what has been the verdict on this on all past occasions. It almost makes you feel there are people that just really would like to see penalties for Verstappen at the first best opportunity they can find. Doesn’t come across as fair sportsmanship or genuine F1 love. But probably just my perception.

        1. I think it was mainly how dangerous the move was, Verstappen seemed to lose control of the car in an effort to block the line to prevent/persuade Norris from passing having slowed down more than Norris wanted to. Had Norris not left the track that could have been a serious impact.

          I don’t think Verstappen had any malicious intent it’s just how quick stuff happens means a call can turn badly very quickly.

          The defense for Verstappen is we all know how bad mirrors are in F1 so you also rely on your team radio. Your radio though can’t really let you know about another car on a out lap because the expectation is they wouldn’t usually pass you.

          The Mclaren was clearly setup with a first sector loaded setup so we’re using their tyres earlier in the lap and hence needed more tyre warmup. You could see this with their competitive first sector times.

      2. Itsmeagain (@)
        8th October 2022, 16:10

        @s Maybe you don’t understand rules. If a similar situation has occurred in the passed that situation (and decision) will be part of the decision making to be made by the stewards. That has nothing to do with ‘got it wrong once…’ .…. And yes,… the crying here for a penalty is a bit hilarious when a certain british driver did exactly the same and got no penalty for that. But that behavior we see a lot here.

    2. Impeding against flyers are normally given a penalty as per the ruleset. Why it wasnt in this case… One can only wonder.

      1. Because Norris wasn’t on a flying lap?

        1. The rules don’t make that distinction though. But the FIA prefers F1 to be run like an English court, where they can just make stuff up as long as they can find some earlier example of it being handled in that way. The FIA doesn’t really want to penalize the big teams, because that’d just be a bad look for everyone and might even make the corporate boards reluctant to play (and pay). And since the FIA also get to pick the stewards, they pick people who ‘get it’ – not those annoying sticklers for the rules.

  14. Vestappen’s engineer should have told him who else was on track behind him. If he didn’t that should be a team penalty on the grounds of safety.

    If Verstappen knew Norris was behind him it was carelessly dangerous to weave over 80% of the track around a bend which reduced Norris’s view of Verstappen.

    Even if Verstappen did not know how close Norris was to him, moving so slowly and then weaving across so much of the track immediately after a bend knowing other cars are on track is dangerous.

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