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F1 Japanese Grand Prix LIVE: Race updates with red flag after heavy Daniel Ricciardo crash

In Europe
April 07, 2024

Max Verstappen stormed to pole position at the Japanese Grand Prix as his dominance in qualifying continued.

The world champion has locked out the first spot on the grid this season and there was no answer to his pace at Suzuka.

His time of one minute 28.197 beat Red Bull team-mate Sergio Perez into second place by just 0.066 seconds, while McLaren’s Lando Norris was the best of the rest.

Verstappen’s run of pole positions now stretches back to the last race of last season and he is now toasting a third pole in Japan. The Dutchman never looked like being beaten and was quickest across all three qualifying sessions – as well as Saturday morning’s final practice.

Follow live updates from the Japanese Grand Prix with The Independent

Table of Contents

F1 JAPANESE GRAND PRIX – LATEST UPDATES

F1 Japanese Grand Prix: RACE CONTROL UPDATE

06:22 , Kieran Jackson

FIA: The race will resume at 6:32 am (BST).

That’s 10 minutes until we get going again in Japan!

F1 Japanese Grand Prix: Full replay of incident on-board

06:20 , Kieran Jackson

It’s a hefty shunt for both men isn’t it…

Not ideal for Daniel Ricciardo in particular, who is a man under pressure.

F1 Japanese Grand Prix: Start grid update

06:16 , Kieran Jackson

Given we went through one sector, positions gained and lost off the line will stay – and so Hulkenberg will start P10 and Tsunoda P12.

No word yet on a restart time.

F1 Japanese Grand Prix: RED FLAG

06:15 , Kieran Jackson

It may well be a bit of a wait here – they need to recover both cars and repair the extensive damage to the tyre barrier at turn two!

All remaining 18 cars back on the grid – and it’s likely we’ll revert to the starting grid, given the timing of the red flag.

It’s bad news for Nico Hulkenberg, who had leapt up from 12th to tenth, but relief for home favourite Yuki Tsunoda who may well start in 10th again, having dropped down the order.

Still, we await confirmation from the FIA!

F1 Japanese Grand Prix: RED FLAG!

06:11 , Kieran Jackson

Here’s a first glance at that race start.

F1 Japanese Grand Prix: Alex Albon

06:08 , Kieran Jackson

“He just squeezed me, nowhere to go!”

Who’s at fault here? Perhaps a lap one racing incident. Tiny margins resulting in a clash of wheels.

F1 Japanese Grand Prix: Big crash on lap one!

06:05 , Kieran Jackson

It’s lights out and all the frontrunners get away safely – but there’s been a huge crash further back between Albon and Ricciardo!

Huge crash into the barrier into turn two!

RED FLAG!

F1 Japanese Grand Prix: Formation lap!

06:02 , Kieran Jackson

So Max Verstappen leads the pack around the Suzuka track for the formation lap in track temperatures around 40C!

The front four all on medium tyres, with Fernando Alonso intriguingly on a new set of soft tyres.

Everyone from 12th to 17th is also on soft tyres, looking for early overtakes.

Who will lead coming out of turn one here?! It’s almost time!

F1 Japanese Grand Prix: A reminder of the starting grid in Suzuka!

05:58 , Kieran Jackson

1) Max Verstappen

2) Sergio Perez

3) Lando Norris

4) Carlos Sainz

5) Fernando Alonso

6) Oscar Piastri

7) Lewis Hamilton

8) Charles Leclerc

9) George Russell

10) Yuki Tsunoda

11) Daniel Ricciardo

12) Nico Hulkenberg

13) Valtteri Bottas

14) Alex Albon

15) Esteban Ocon

16) Lance Stroll

17) Pierre Gasly

18) Kevin Magnussen

19) Logan Sargeant

20) Zhou Guanyu

George Russell:

05:52 , Kieran Jackson

“Nature of F1 at the moment, there will be a fight for podium positions. We’ll have to go for it.”

Bernie Collins: ‘I don’t just represent women in F1 – but engineers too’

05:50 , Kieran Jackson

Exclusive interview by Kieran Jackson

From university in Belfast and the circus of the Formula 1 paddock to the television screen and the world of the media, Bernie Collins’s path to her current role has been unorthodox to say the least. And in some respects, groundbreaking. Regularly the sole woman in a man’s world, the Northern Irish F1 expert has consistently broken the mould, first as an engineer for McLaren and a strategist for Aston Martin to now: a key cog in Sky Sports’ coverage of F1.

This weekend, Collins will be in the Osterley-based studio as part of Sky’s coverage of the Japanese Grand Prix. As she acknowledges, she is a rare breed of pundit: that is, someone from a data-driven background. And in a sport as technical as Formula 1 – perhaps the most statistical-based sport in the British mainstream – her unique perspective has positively tapped into a market previously untouched.

“It’s a story which hasn’t been sold,” says Collins, 38, of her role with Sky. “Even now when I watch other sports, football for example, most pundits are ex-footballers or managers. But teams have a data team and fitness coaches. I think it’s beginning to open up this realisation that all sports have technical areas and people are more interested in the technical side of sports than ever before.”

Full piece below:

Bernie Collins: ‘I don’t just represent women in F1 – but engineers too’

Time for the Japanese national anthem at Suzuka!

05:47 , Kieran Jackson

Performed by the Japanese air force national band.

Carlos Sainz keen to ‘speed up’ 2025 talks in Japan – but where should Ferrari driver go next?

05:42 , Kieran Jackson

Japanese Grand Prix preview

It’s been quite a few months for Carlos Sainz. At the turn of the year, a contract extension at Ferrari seemed a formality. His win in Singapore last September – the only non-Red Bull victory since 2022 – solidified his role at the Scuderia as one half of a strong partnership with Charles Leclerc. In fact, the Spaniard was ready to take the next step and target a championship challenge in the near future.

Cue Lewis Hamilton. Cue appendicitis and a race absence in Saudi Arabia. Downed but undefeated, Sainz’s resilience and skillset came to the fore quite superbly two weeks ago as he overcame all those obstacles in Australia with a terrific victory on the streets of Melbourne, taking advantage of Max Verstappen’s retirement for his third win in F1.

And ahead of this weekend’s Japanese Grand Prix on the popular Suzuka circuit, the 29-year-old admits that a spot on the grid next year is something he wants sorting as soon as possible. Frankly, he should be a man high in demand.

Carlos Sainz keen to ‘speed up’ 2025 talks – but where should Ferrari driver go next?

Constructor Standings ahead of the Japanese Grand Prix:

05:35 , Kieran Jackson

1. Red Bull – 97 points

2. Ferrari – 93 points

3. McLaren – 55 points

4. Mercedes – 26 points

5. Aston Martin – 25 points

6. RB – 6 points

7. Haas – 4 points

8. Williams – 0 points

9. Kick Sauber – 0 points

10. Alpine – 0 points

Lando Norris speaking before the race:

05:33 , Kieran Jackson

A reminder of the starting grid in Japan:

05:29 , Kieran Jackson

1) Max Verstappen

2) Sergio Perez

3) Lando Norris

4) Carlos Sainz

5) Fernando Alonso

6) Oscar Piastri

7) Lewis Hamilton

8) Charles Leclerc

9) George Russell

10) Yuki Tsunoda

11) Daniel Ricciardo

12) Nico Hulkenberg

13) Valtteri Bottas

14) Alex Albon

15) Esteban Ocon

16) Lance Stroll

17) Pierre Gasly

18) Kevin Magnussen

19) Logan Sargeant

20) Zhou Guanyu

Lewis Hamilton makes shock Mercedes claim despite poor qualifying

05:24 , Kieran Jackson

Lewis Hamilton may have only managed to qualify seventh for the Japanese Grand Prix but he insists his Mercedes has not felt better in three years.

The seven-time world champion will start from the fourth row at Suzuka, with team-mate George Russell in ninth.

While from the outside that would suggest Mercedes once again struggled with an underperforming car – like much of the past two years – Hamilton was in good spirits following Saturday’s qualifying.

Having lamented the gap to pole-sitter Max Verstappen over the team radio during the session, he had a more positive outlook in the aftermath.

“The car has been much nicer to drive this weekend… this is the nicest it has felt in three years,” he said. “I think we did a really good job over the last week, just the analysis we’ve done at the factory to get the car into a sweet spot.

Lewis Hamilton makes shock Mercedes claim despite poor qualifying

Driver Standings ahead of the Japanese GP:

05:16 , Kieran Jackson

1. Max Verstappen – 51 points

2. Charles Leclerc – 47 points

3. Sergio Perez – 46 points

4. Carlos Sainz – 40 points

5. Oscar Piastri – 28 points

6. Lando Norris – 27 points

7. George Russell – 18 points

8. Fernando Alonso – 16 points

9. Lance Stroll – 9 points

10. Lewis Hamilton – 8 points

11. Yuki Tsunoda – 6 points

12. Oliver Bearman – 6 points

13. Nico Hulkenberg – 3 points

14. Kevin Magnussen – 1 point

15. Alex Albon – 0 points

16. Zhou Guanyu – 0 points

17. Daniel Ricciardo – 0 points

18. Esteban Ocon – 0 points

19. Pierre Gasly – 0 points

20. Valtteri Bottas – 0 points

21. Logan Sargeant – 0 points

Charles Leclerc fumes at Ferrari mishap in Japan: ‘What are we doing?’

05:12 , Kieran Jackson

Charles Leclerc was in a state of bemusement prior to qualifying in Japan on Saturday, questioning his Ferrari team’s run-plan at the end of the final practice session.

Leclerc is four points off championship leader Max Verstappen heading into this weekend in Suzuka, following two podiums in the first three races.

Yet on early evidence, Ferrari cannot match the pace of Red Bull this weekend in Japan, with Leclerc unhappy at the Scuderia’s strategy at the end of the third practice session.

Leclerc failed to get a second “push lap” in at the end and was angry that his team kept him in the garage for too long at the end of the one-hour session.

“Honestly, I don’t get it,” Leclerc said over the team radio. “What are we doing to stay in the garage? Oh my god!”

Full piece below:

Charles Leclerc fumes at Ferrari mistake in Japan: ‘What are we doing?’

TOP-10 IN QUALIFYING:

05:05 , Kieran Jackson

1) Max Verstappen – 1:28:197

2) Sergio Perez – +0.066

3) Lando Norris – +0.292

4) Carlos Sainz – +0.485

5) Fernando Alonso – +0.489

6) Oscar Piastri – +0.663

7) Lewis Hamilton – +0.669

8) Charles Leclerc – +0.689

9) George Russell – +0.811

10) Yuki Tsunoda +1.216

Qualifying report: Max Verstappen continues qualifying dominance to take pole position in Japan

05:01 , Kieran Jackson

Max Verstappen stormed to pole position at the Japanese Grand Prix as his dominance in qualifying continued.

The world champion has locked out the first spot on the grid this season and there was no answer to his pace at Suzuka.

His time of one minute 28.197 beat Red Bull team-mate Sergio Perez into second place by just 0.066 seconds, while McLaren’s Lando Norris was the best of the rest.

Verstappen’s run of pole positions now stretches back to the last race of last season and he is now toasting a third pole in Japan.

The Dutchman never looked like being beaten and was quickest across all three qualifying sessions – as well as Saturday morning’s final practice.

Max Verstappen continues qualifying dominance to take pole position in Japan

F1 Japanese Grand Prix LIVE!

04:59 , Kieran Jackson

Good morning – hope you’re just getting out of bed! – and welcome to The Independent’s live coverage of the Japanese Grand Prix in Suzuka!

Max Verstappen is on pole for the fourth time in a row this season, with Red Bull team-mate Sergio Perez alongside him on the front row.

Lando Norris starts third, with friend Carlos Sainz alongside him on the second row.

Can anyone stop the Red Bulls in Japan?! Lights out is at 6am (BST)!

Mercedes hit with FIA fine after George Russell pit-lane incident

Saturday 6 April 2024 11:40 , Kieran Jackson

Mercedes have been hit with a £4,290 (€5,000) fine for an unsafe pit lane release involving George Russell at the start of qualifying for the Japanese Grand Prix.

Russell was released right into the path of McLaren’s Oscar Piastri, who had to steer left to avoid the Mercedes W15.

Piastri said over team radio: “Very dangerous from Russell.”

Mercedes hit with FIA fine after George Russell pit-lane incident

Lewis Hamilton makes shock Mercedes claim despite poor qualifying

Saturday 6 April 2024 10:28 , Kieran Jackson

Lewis Hamilton may have only managed to qualify seventh for the Japanese Grand Prix but he insists his Mercedes has not felt better in three years.

The seven-time world champion will start from the fourth row at Suzuka, with team-mate George Russell in ninth.

While from the outside that would suggest Mercedes once again struggled with an underperforming car – like much of the past two years – Hamilton was in good spirits following Saturday’s qualifying.

Having lamented the gap to pole-sitter Max Verstappen over the team radio during the session, he had a more positive outlook in the aftermath.

“The car has been much nicer to drive this weekend… this is the nicest it has felt in three years,” he said. “I think we did a really good job over the last week, just the analysis we’ve done at the factory to get the car into a sweet spot.

Lewis Hamilton makes shock Mercedes claim despite poor qualifying

Charles Leclerc fumes at Ferrari mishap in Japan: ‘What are we doing?’

Saturday 6 April 2024 10:02 , Kieran Jackson

Charles Leclerc was in a state of bemusement prior to qualifying in Japan on Saturday, questioning his Ferrari team’s run-plan at the end of the final practice session.

Leclerc is four points off championship leader Max Verstappen heading into this weekend in Suzuka, following two podiums in the first three races.

Yet on early evidence, Ferrari cannot match the pace of Red Bull this weekend in Japan, with Leclerc unhappy at the Scuderia’s strategy at the end of the third practice session.

Leclerc failed to get a second “push lap” in at the end and was angry that his team kept him in the garage for too long at the end of the one-hour session.

“Honestly, I don’t get it,” Leclerc said over the team radio. “What are we doing to stay in the garage? Oh my god!”

Full piece below:

Charles Leclerc fumes at Ferrari mishap in Japan: ‘What are we doing?’

Qualifying report: Max Verstappen continues qualifying dominance to take pole position in Japan

Saturday 6 April 2024 09:23 , Kieran Jackson

Max Verstappen stormed to pole position at the Japanese Grand Prix as his dominance in qualifying continued.

The world champion has locked out the first spot on the grid this season and there was no answer to his pace at Suzuka.

His time of one minute 28.197 beat Red Bull team-mate Sergio Perez into second place by just 0.066 seconds, while McLaren’s Lando Norris was the best of the rest.

Verstappen’s run of pole positions now stretches back to the last race of last season and he is now toasting a third pole in Japan.

The Dutchman never looked like being beaten and was quickest across all three qualifying sessions – as well as Saturday morning’s final practice.

Red Bull driver Max Verstappen took pole position at the Japanese Grand Prix (Hiro Komae/AP) (AP)

Red Bull driver Max Verstappen took pole position at the Japanese Grand Prix (Hiro Komae/AP) (AP)

Lewis Hamilton after qualifying P7:

Saturday 6 April 2024 09:06 , Kieran Jackson

Charles Leclerc, after qualifying P8:

Saturday 6 April 2024 08:40 , Kieran Jackson

“It’s one of those sessions where you get it once in a season, it’s not a good feeling. We can always improve like every qualifying – if I rely on the feeling at the end of the lap, it’s a good lap but then you look at the board. I’ve tried many different things today but it didn’t work, I don’t have the answer.

“On a track like this, qualifying position is extremely important. We didn’t do a good job.

“From Q1 to Q3, it wasn’t a strong session. We’ve got to look into it.

“Race-pace looks strong, I hope we have the opportunity to overtake. It’s going to be difficult to overtake, I’ll do my best and see.”

Max Verstappen:

Saturday 6 April 2024 08:27 , Kieran Jackson

“It was quite close at the end. When you want to go to the limit, it doesn’t always work out – most important to be on pole. Overall, a very good day. Tomorrow is what counts.

“It’s great as a team to be P1 and P2, hopefully we can keep that going.”

Sergio Perez:

Saturday 6 April 2024 08:19 , Kieran Jackson

“We hooked it in all together but unfortunately just not enough.

“We’ve been really close all weekend, when you’re in that little margins, everything can make a difference. We are in a good position for tomorrow.”

Lando Norris:

Saturday 6 April 2024 08:13 , Kieran Jackson

“We’ve had a good car all weekend, we’re trying to catch up to the two Red Bulls. The team is doing a good job, the hard work is paying off slowly.

“Today is a good start, but we go to tomorrow.”

TOP-10 IN QUALIFYING:

Saturday 6 April 2024 08:08 , Kieran Jackson

1) Max Verstappen – 1:28:197

2) Sergio Perez – +0.066

3) Lando Norris – +0.292

4) Carlos Sainz – +0.485

5) Fernando Alonso – +0.489

6) Oscar Piastri – +0.663

7) Lewis Hamilton – +0.669

8) Charles Leclerc – +0.689

9) George Russell – +0.811

10) Yuki Tsunoda +1.216

F1 Japanese Grand Prix qualifying: Max Verstappen on pole in Suzuka!

Saturday 6 April 2024 08:04 , Kieran Jackson

It was close… but Max Verstappen has done it! A 1:28:197 puts him 0.066 secs quicker than team-mate Sergio Perez, who put in a decent lap!

Lando Norris stays third, two-tenths off, with Carlos Sainz fourth and Fernando Alonso fifth.

6-10: Piastri, Hamilton, Leclerc, Russell, Tsunoda

Where did Mercedes’ pace go?

 (Getty Images)

(Getty Images)

F1 Japanese Grand Prix qualifying: Charles Leclerc only seventh-fastest

Saturday 6 April 2024 07:58 , Kieran Jackson

And he went quickest in sector two! But only P7 at best for the Ferrari!

“That’s the best I can do. Honestly, I don’t get it!”

3:00 to go. Can anyone catch Max Verstappen’s pole-setting time?

F1 Japanese Grand Prix qualifying: Lewis Hamilton

Saturday 6 April 2024 07:57 , Kieran Jackson

Bono: “That’s half-a-second to Verstappen.”

Hamilton: “Where’s that half-a-second man?”

The head scratching continues at Mercedes…

F1 Japanese Grand Prix qualifying: Fernando Alonso:

Saturday 6 April 2024 07:56 , Kieran Jackson

“I don’t know what to do to go faster mate, I thought it was a good lap.”

P7 at the moment. A tenth to P4.

F1 Japanese Grand Prix qualifying: Max Verstappen first with Lando Norris second!

Saturday 6 April 2024 07:55 , Kieran Jackson

Verstappen on provisional pole with a 1:28:240, with Lando Norris producing a special lap to go P2 – two-tenths off the Red Bull!

Sergio Perez P3, with Carlos Sainz in fourth and Oscar Piastri fifth.

6-10: Hamilton, Alonso, Russell, Tsunoda, Leclerc (no time)

Now Charles Leclerc heads out for what will be one lap on new tyres with no traffic either!

5:00 to go.

F1 Japanese Grand Prix qualifying: Q3 underway!

Saturday 6 April 2024 07:47 , Kieran Jackson

Here we go then with the top-10 shootout – it looks Max Verstappen’s to lose!

10 drivers involved: Verstappen, Perez, Hamilton, Russell, Alonso, Tsunoda, Norris, Piastri, Sainz, Leclerc

And they’re all out from the off aside from Leclerc and Tsunoda!

F1 Japanese Grand Prix qualifying: Yuki Tsunoda knocks out his team-mate Daniel Ricciardo!

Saturday 6 April 2024 07:43 , Kieran Jackson

Tsunoda has done it, to the delight of the home fans! And he’s knocked Daniel Ricciardo in the process by a tenth of a second!

Bottom-five (11-15) and out in Q2: Ricciardo, Hulkenberg, Bottas, Albon, Ocon

Lewis Hamilton went P3 with his second lap on new tyres, a tenth and a half behind Verstappen and Perez.

 (Getty Images)

(Getty Images)

 (Getty Images)

(Getty Images)

F1 Japanese Grand Prix qualifying: Cars back out on track

Saturday 6 April 2024 07:40 , Kieran Jackson

Alex Albon will be amongst the latter group here as he eyes a place in Q3….

The top-7 – Verstappen, Perez, Norris, Alonso, Sianz, Piastri, Leclerc – have all opted to stay in the garage.

Positions 8-15: Hamilton, Russell, Bottas, Tsunoda, Ocon, Ricciardo, Hulkenberg, Albon

Big moment for home hero Yuki Tsunoda!

2:00 to go.

F1 Japanese Grand Prix qualifying: Carlos Sainz on team radio

Saturday 6 April 2024 07:36 , Kieran Jackson

“The throttle pedal felt soft at the top, check.”

Bit odd. Sainz P5 right now…

F1 Japanese Grand Prix qualifying: Daniel Ricciardo in the bottom-five

Saturday 6 April 2024 07:35 , Kieran Jackson

Not a strong lap from Ricciardo, who is the slowest out of all those who’ve set times.

Current bottom-five (11-15): Tsunoda, Ocon, Ricciardo, Hulkenberg, Albon

Alex Albon, in P15, yet to set a lap. Nico Hulkenberg has his lap time deleted for exceeding track limits. Maybe he’ll head out on his own now…

Top-3: Verstappen, Perez, Norris. Hamilton and Russell not safe right now, in P8 and P9…

5:00 to go.

F1 Japanese Grand Prix qualifying: Sergio Perez close to Max Verstappen

Saturday 6 April 2024 07:31 , Kieran Jackson

All the cars now out on track with 10 minutes to go, with just the Red Bulls having set a time.

And it’s close! Perez just 0.012 secs off Verstappen, which shows that maybe the Mexican can take the fight to pole to his team-mate!

We shall see…

F1 Japanese Grand Prix qualifying: Here’s a happy Esteban Ocon!

Saturday 6 April 2024 07:29 , Kieran Jackson

F1 Japanese Grand Prix qualifying: Q2 underway!

Saturday 6 April 2024 07:26 , Kieran Jackson

The second stage of qualifying – 15 minutes, bottom-five will be kicked out again – starts in Suzuka.

Esteban Ocon for Alpine, incidentally, was delighted over the team radio when told he’d made it through… which sort of shows how far Alpine have fallen at the start of this season!

Nevertheless, on we go with Q2 – with the two Red Bulls the first cars straight out there on track!

F1 Japanese Grand Prix qualifying: Lance Stroll out in Q1!

Saturday 6 April 2024 07:21 , Kieran Jackson

Oh a nightmare for the Aston Martin driver – he took the chequered flag early and he’s out in Q1 in P16! He’s never got out of Q1 at Suzuka – it’s a track which doesn’t suit him!

Bottom-five (16-20) and out in Q1: Stroll, Gasly, Magnussen, Sargeant, Zhou

Alex Albon escapes in 15th…

Top-3: Verstappen, Alonso (in the other Aston Martin!), Perez

 (Getty Images)

(Getty Images)

 (Getty Images)

(Getty Images)

F1 Japanese Grand Prix qualifying: Sargeant only goes P15

Saturday 6 April 2024 07:17 , Kieran Jackson

Logan Sargeant only goes 15th with his second run, while Alex Albon goes P11. Daniel Ricciardo is teetering on the edge too in P14.

Current bottom-five (16-20): Ocon, Gasly, Hulkenberg, Magnussen, Zhou

3:00 to go. And here come the rest of the field again for their second laps!

Now or never for that bottom-five…

F1 Japanese Grand Prix qualifying: Max Verstappen fastest early on

Saturday 6 April 2024 07:11 , Kieran Jackson

No surprises at the top at the moment – Max Verstappen the fastest driver out there with a 1:28:866, four-tenths quicker than Fernando Alono in second.

Charles Leclerc for Ferrari is slow, down in P9… behind Yuki Tsunoda!

Current bottom-five (16-20): Gasly, Hulkenberg, Sargeant, Zhou, Magnussen

Seven minutes to go – Alex Albon the man on the edge in P15.

F1 Japanese Grand Prix qualifying: Most cars come out of the pit lane

Saturday 6 April 2024 07:07 , Kieran Jackson

After a quiet first six minutes of running, with Kevin Magnussen the only driver setting a hot lap, all the cars come out of the pit lane at the same time with 12 minutes to go.

And it’s busy in the pit lane! George Russell almost collided with Oscar Piastri, with the Aussie not happy about it: “Very dangerous from Russell.”

The stewards will investigate after the session…

Q1 underway!

Saturday 6 April 2024 07:03 , Kieran Jackson

Here we go then with qualifying in Japan!

18 minutes for the first qualifying session where, as usual, we will lose the slowest five drivers from the field.

It’s overcast but fairly warm in Suzuka, with no rain on the horizon!

F1 Japanese Grand Prix qualifying:

Saturday 6 April 2024 06:55 , Kieran Jackson

We’re just five minutes away from qualifying at Suzuka!

Can anyone stop Max Verstappen? The Red Bull driver is 3/3 for pole positions so far this season and is firm favourite after his quick displays in practice in Japan.

As for Ferrari, Mercedes and McLaren? It’s all a little bit more unknown. In warm, 19C conditions in Suzuka, it should be a fascinating session!

 (Getty Images)

(Getty Images)

Bernie Collins: ‘I don’t just represent women in F1 – but engineers too’

Saturday 6 April 2024 06:50 , Kieran Jackson

Exclusive interview by Kieran Jackson

From university in Belfast and the circus of the Formula 1 paddock to the television screen and the world of the media, Bernie Collins’s path to her current role has been unorthodox to say the least. And in some respects, groundbreaking. Regularly the sole woman in a man’s world, the Northern Irish F1 expert has consistently broken the mould, first as an engineer for McLaren and a strategist for Aston Martin to now: a key cog in Sky Sports’ coverage of F1.

This weekend, Collins will be in the Osterley-based studio as part of Sky’s coverage of the Japanese Grand Prix. As she acknowledges, she is a rare breed of pundit: that is, someone from a data-driven background. And in a sport as technical as Formula 1 – perhaps the most statistical-based sport in the British mainstream – her unique perspective has positively tapped into a market previously untouched.

“It’s a story which hasn’t been sold,” says Collins, 38, of her role with Sky. “Even now when I watch other sports, football for example, most pundits are ex-footballers or managers. But teams have a data team and fitness coaches. I think it’s beginning to open up this realisation that all sports have technical areas and people are more interested in the technical side of sports than ever before.”

Full piece below:

Bernie Collins: ‘I don’t just represent women in F1 – but engineers too’

Carlos Sainz keen to ‘speed up’ 2025 talks in Japan – but where should Ferrari driver go next?

Saturday 6 April 2024 06:32 , Kieran Jackson

Japanese Grand Prix preview

It’s been quite a few months for Carlos Sainz. At the turn of the year, a contract extension at Ferrari seemed a formality. His win in Singapore last September – the only non-Red Bull victory since 2022 – solidified his role at the Scuderia as one half of a strong partnership with Charles Leclerc. In fact, the Spaniard was ready to take the next step and target a championship challenge in the near future.

Cue Lewis Hamilton. Cue appendicitis and a race absence in Saudi Arabia. Downed but undefeated, Sainz’s resilience and skillset came to the fore quite superbly two weeks ago as he overcame all those obstacles in Australia with a terrific victory on the streets of Melbourne, taking advantage of Max Verstappen’s retirement for his third win in F1.

And ahead of this weekend’s Japanese Grand Prix on the popular Suzuka circuit, the 29-year-old admits that a spot on the grid next year is something he wants sorting as soon as possible. Frankly, he should be a man high in demand.

Carlos Sainz keen to ‘speed up’ 2025 talks – but where should Ferrari driver go next?

Constructor Standings ahead of the Japanese Grand Prix:

Saturday 6 April 2024 06:20 , Kieran Jackson

1. Red Bull – 97 points

2. Ferrari – 93 points

3. McLaren – 55 points

4. Mercedes – 26 points

5. Aston Martin – 25 points

6. RB – 6 points

7. Haas – 4 points

8. Williams – 0 points

9. Kick Sauber – 0 points

10. Alpine – 0 points

Driver Standings ahead of the Japanese GP:

Saturday 6 April 2024 06:07 , Kieran Jackson

1. Max Verstappen – 51 points

2. Charles Leclerc – 47 points

3. Sergio Perez – 46 points

4. Carlos Sainz – 40 points

5. Oscar Piastri – 28 points

6. Lando Norris – 27 points

7. George Russell – 18 points

8. Fernando Alonso – 16 points

9. Lance Stroll – 9 points

10. Lewis Hamilton – 8 points

11. Yuki Tsunoda – 6 points

12. Oliver Bearman – 6 points

13. Nico Hulkenberg – 3 points

14. Kevin Magnussen – 1 point

15. Alex Albon – 0 points

16. Zhou Guanyu – 0 points

17. Daniel Ricciardo – 0 points

18. Esteban Ocon – 0 points

19. Pierre Gasly – 0 points

20. Valtteri Bottas – 0 points

21. Logan Sargeant – 0 points

F1 Japanese Grand Prix LIVE:Qualifying updates

Saturday 6 April 2024 06:04 , Kieran Jackson

Good morning and welcome to The Independent’s live coverage of the Japanese Grand Prix weekend!

The last grand prix in Australia threw up some surprises, with Max Verstappen retiring early on and Lewis Hamilton bowing out due to a mechanical failure too. Carlos Sainz picked up a brilliant victory for Ferrari, with team-mate Charles Leclerc securing a one-two finish for the Scuderia.

Lando Norris finished third to pick up McLaren’s first podium of the season, while Mercedes endured their first double DNF in five years after George Russell’s late crash, which resulted in Fernando Alonso’s post-race penalty.

With Red Bull’s F1 win-streak broken, Verstappen now only has a four-point lead at the top of the drivers’ championship to Leclerc – but will normal service resume this weekend at one of the sport’s most iconic and popular tracks?

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