Lewis Hamilton breaks more lap records on the way to Japanese Grand Prix pole

Lewis Hamilton will start from pole position for the Japanese Grand Prix, breaking yet more lap records on the way to his time of a 1m27.319s.

That time was four tenths quicker than what Sebastian Vettel managed, who will start alongside of his championship rival after Valtteri Bottas takes a five-place grid penalty for a gearbox change.

Hamilton managed to lead on the provisional pole times in the opening stages of Q3, before improving on his time by a few hundredths in the dying moments.

Daniel Ricciardo managed to out qualify his team mate in to start from third on the grid, with last weekends race winner Max Verstappen only managing a time good enough for fourth on the grid. Red Bull were blaming their lack of straight line speed at this circuit, which put them down in 7th and 13th in the speed trap respectively.

With all the grid penalties including Kimi Raikkonen’s after a crash in practice this morning, that promotes the two Force India drivers to fifth and sixth place with Esteban Ocon ahead of Sergio Perez. Next will be Bottas then Stoffel Vandoorne, who will start within the top ten at Honda’s home race.

Fernando Alonso did improve at the end of Q2 to get into Q3 and set a lap time, however he will take a grid drop of 35 positions which will put him at the back of the grid in 20th.

Raikkonen will be outside the top ten along with Nico Hulkenberg and Kevin Magnussen, the Haas driver doing better than his team mate Romain Grosjean who starts 16th after a crash in the closing stages of Q1.

Grosjean looked to loose his car on entry to the Esses, which threw him off the circuit and into the barriers as he started his final attempt. The front end of the car was destroyed and with 1m18s on the clock it stopped the likes of Pierre Gasly and Lance Stroll from improving, which means they start from 17th and 18th place.

Stroll was also impeded by Perez on one of his fast laps in Q1, which the stewards investigated but did not hand the Force India driver a penalty.

Further penalties set to make up the grid include a drop of 20 places for Jolyon Palmer, who after qualifying 14th will almost certainly start from 19th if Renault elect to not start him from the pit lane.

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