Red Bull Get the Job Done in Qualifying for the Japanese Grand Prix

April 6, 2024Ramon Jones
Formula 1

After a disastrous Australian Grand Prix Red Bull Racing has bounced back in Japan at Suzuka this weekend. Max Verstappen lead FP1 FP3 and qualifying topping the tables for most of the weekend. Qualifying occurred in dry conditions despite rain earlier in the weekend during FP2. The Red Bulls never really looked threatened at the front but as you move down the pecking order the mix got more interesting.

Tsunoda Out-Qualifies Ricciardo Again

Yuki Tsunoda outperformed his teammate Daniel Ricciardo yet again knocking Ricciardo out of Q2 by less than a tenth of a second. Tsunoda made it to Q3 in front of his home crowd in Japan but ended up slowest in the final session of qualifying and will start P10 in tomorrows race. Ricciardo still doesn’t have an answer to his teammate’s recent success. He said, “I have mixed emotions today. There’s a bit of frustration but it’s also encouraging to be so close to Q3 after a tricky start to the year. Considering that yesterday I had only a few laps, and they were in damp conditions, today’s qualifying was a good session as we were very close to making it inside the top 10. I drove some laps this morning in FP3 and then worked hard to find those few tenths for quali.

I’m pleased for us to be pretty much there, but it’s not Q3. It’s just frustrating to be knocked out by just half a tenth as it would have been nice to give it to the guys today. After yesterday, we certainly see some positives that are encouraging. For tomorrow, the race pace has been alright, and I’ll start on the clean side of the grid. I really think points are possible, so I’ll aim to be in the top 10 in Lap 1 as well as in Lap 53.”

Tsunoda had a different tone. He commented on Q3, “I felt a little pressure coming into this weekend after our strong performance in Australia,” he said. “But I’d say it’s good pressure and I’m very happy I was able to get into Q3 in front of my family, friends and home crowd.”

Mercedes Misses Out on Top Five Again

The Mercedes side has seen its fair share of struggles in the 2023 and 2022 seasons. Early this season it seemed as though the team figured out their shortcomings. However, after today’s qualifying results Lewis Hamilton will started P7 and George Russell at P9.

SUZUKA, JAPAN – APRIL 06: Sir Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes F1 W15 during the Japanese GP at Suzuka on Saturday April 06, 2024 in Suzuka, Japan. (Photo by Andy Hone / LAT Images)

Hamilton commented, Qualifying was generally a really good session. I think we’ve made some good improvements to the car and its balance so far this weekend. I was overall much happier in the car than I have been this year, although there are clear areas of improvement. We have taken steps in the right direction though. When we raced here just six months ago, we were over one second adrift and we’ve closed that gap to the front a little, and to our nearest competitors. Of course I was hoping for more and we are never going to be happy with P7, but we know our car is a work in progress.
Tomorrow’s race will be all about tire degradation. Our long run pace looked similar to others on Friday, so we will see if that is the case on Sunday. I think it will be very close tomorrow so I hope we can maximize all the various factors and take home some good points.”

Lando Norris secured P3 with his teammate finishing Q3 P6.

Full Qualifying Results from Suzuka

11Max VerstappenRED BULL RACING HONDA RBPT1:28.8661:28.7401:28.19712
211Sergio PerezRED BULL RACING HONDA RBPT1:29.3031:28.7521:28.26312
34Lando NorrisMCLAREN MERCEDES1:29.5361:28.9401:28.48913
455Carlos SainzFERRARI1:29.5131:29.0991:28.68212
514Fernando AlonsoASTON MARTIN ARAMCO MERCEDES1:29.2541:29.0821:28.68612
681Oscar PiastriMCLAREN MERCEDES1:29.4251:29.1481:28.76012
744Lewis HamiltonMERCEDES1:29.6611:28.8871:28.76615
816Charles LeclercFERRARI1:29.3381:29.1961:28.78612
963George RussellMERCEDES1:29.7991:29.1401:29.00815
1022Yuki TsunodaRB HONDA RBPT1:29.7751:29.4171:29.41318
113Daniel RicciardoRB HONDA RBPT1:29.7271:29.47212
1227Nico HulkenbergHAAS FERRARI1:29.8211:29.49412
1377Valtteri BottasKICK SAUBER FERRARI1:29.6021:29.59312
1423Alexander AlbonWILLIAMS MERCEDES1:29.9631:29.7149
1531Esteban OconALPINE RENAULT1:29.8111:29.81612
1710Pierre GaslyALPINE RENAULT1:30.1196
1820Kevin MagnussenHAAS FERRARI1:30.1319
192Logan SargeantWILLIAMS MERCEDES1:30.1396
2024Zhou GuanyuKICK SAUBER FERRARI1:30.1436