Lewis Hamilton eased to pole position for the Japanese Grand Prix, with near-comical strategy from Ferrari costing Sebastian Vettel once again. Vettel will start the race ninth after Ferrari badly misjudged when rain would arrive in the top-10 shootout, striking another self-inflicted blow in the title race.
Ferrari emerged for the start of Q3 with intermediate tyres fitted – but the rain was yet to fall and Hamilton was able to put in a time of one minute 27.760 seconds on supersoft tyres.
Once Sebastian Vettel and Kimi Raikkonen dived into the pits for slick rubber, the rain began to fall and both drivers had their laps ruined by the slippery track at Spoon.
1 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes 1:27.760
2 Valtteri Bottas Mercedes 0.299s
3 Max Verstappen Red Bull 1.297s
4 Kimi Raikkonen Ferrari 1.761s
5 Romain Grosjean Haas 2.001s
6 Brendon Hartley Toro Rosso 2.263s
7 Pierre Gasly Toro Rosso 2.333s
8 Esteban Ocon Force India 2.366s
9 Sebastian Vettel Ferrari 4.432s
10 Sergio Perez Force India 9.469s
11 Charles Leclerc Sauber 1:29.864
12 Kevin Magnussen Haas 1:30.226
13 Carlos Sainz Renault 1:30.490
14 Lance Stroll Williams 1:30.714
15 Daniel Ricciardo Red Bull no times
16 Nico Hulkenberg Renault 1:30.361
17 Sergey Sirotkin Williams 1:30.372
18 Fernando Alonso McLaren 1:20.573
19 Stoffel Vandoorne McLaren 1:31.041
20 Marcus Ericsson Sauber 1:31.213