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Max Verstappen returns to pole ahead of Japanese Grand Prix

The Red Bull driver has missed out on pole position in the last three GPs but will now start in P1 as he looks to retain his world championship title this Sunday in Japan.

Max Verstappen takes his first pole in Japan

Max Verstappen was quickest in Saturday’s final practice for the Japanese Grand Prix as he attempts to clinch his second straight world title on Sunday, October 9, 2022, in Suzuka.

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The 24-year-old Red Bull driver blazed round the track in dry conditions with a fastest lap of 1min 30.671sec, 0.294sec clear of Ferrari’s Carlos Sainz.

Verstappen has a chance to clinch his second world title on Sunday if he wins the race with the fastest lap, no matter what his rivals do.

The Dutchman will also retain his crown if he wins and Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc, finishes third or lower.

Steady rain put the dampeners on Friday’s practice, with Verstappen pushed back into third in the second session by Mercedes pair George Russell and Lewis Hamilton.

But he improved on his position Saturday’s final practice, changing to soft tyres late in the session to reel off the fastest lap.

Carlos Sainz followed him with the quickest time of 1min 30.965sec, ahead of his Ferrari teammate Leclerc on 1min 30.980.

Alpine’s Fernando Alonso, who was quickest in the first practice, was fourth.

While Red Bull’s Sergio Perez and Singapore GP winner was fifth ahead of Russell, who almost crashed into the back of AlphaTauri’s Pierre Gasly late in the session.

Haas driver Mick Schumacher took part in the final practice after missing Friday’s second session following an earlier crash that wrecked his chassis.

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