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Japanese GP: Qualifying notes - Pirelli

NEWS STORY
07/10/2017

Mercedes driver Lewis Hamilton demolished the Suzuka alltime lap record to claim pole position on the supersoft tyre. Hamilton and Ferrari's Sebastian Vettel were the only two drivers to get through Q1 on the soft tyres only while their team mates, Valtteri Bottas and Kimi Raikkonen, adopted an alternative strategy for Q2. Both set their fastest Q2 times on the soft tyre, which they will begin the race on tomorrow. However, Bottas and Raikkonen are among several drivers to have collected grid penalties, so they will start further back tomorrow.

With today's dry weather expected to remain tomorrow, two pit stops should be the optimal strategy. However, there is always the possibility of a safety car to disrupt the strategy in Suzuka, with red flags seen in free practice as well as during Q1.

Mario Isola: "Hamilton's remarkable lap, which obliterates the previous all-time Suzuka record, has underlined the pace of the latest-generation Formula 1 car and tyres, even though preparation for the race has been interrupted by weather and red flags up until now. Pole this year was in fact 3.3 seconds faster than 2016, with the tyres performing perfectly. We would expect two pit stops for most drivers in the race tomorrow, as this is one of the circuits that takes the most energy out of the tyres of the entire year. Already we've seen some tactics in qualifying, with two of the drivers carrying grid penalties opting to start on the soft tyres. This should allow them to gain track position by running a longer first stint than their direct rivals. Last weekend in Malaysia proved that, with the right strategy, it's still possible to get a good result even starting from the back."

Check out our Saturday gallery from Suzuka, here.

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