Haas F1 Team drivers Romain Grosjean and Kevin Magnussen qualified fifth and 12th, respectively, for the Japanese Grand Prix Sunday at Suzuka Circuit.
Grosjean’s fifth-place performance equaled Haas F1 Team’s best qualifying effort to date, earned on three previous occasions: Magnussen on Sept. 29 for the Russian Grand Prix, Grosjean on Aug. 25 for the Belgian Grand Prix and Magnussen on July 21 for the German Grand Prix. The Japanese Grand Prix is the 17th race of 2018 and the 58th race for Haas F1 Team since its debut in the 2016 Australian Grand Prix. It was also Grosjean’s 10th straight appearance in Q3, a streak that began June 23 in qualifying for the French Grand Prix.
Grosjean set the seventh-fastest time in Q1 with a lap of 1:29.724 around the 5.807-kilometer (3.608-mile), 18-turn track. Magnussen was 11th quickest with a lap of 1:30.219. Each driver handily made the top-15 cutoff to advance to Q2.
In Q2 where rain fell in the latter part of the session, Grosjean earned the eighth-fastest time with a lap of 1:29.678 and Magnussen was 12th with a lap of 1:30.226. Only the top-10 drivers move on to Q3.
Q3 featured the heavy hitters of Formula One, with four-time and reigning champion Mercedes, 16-time champion Scuderia Ferrari and four-time champion Red Bull all represented. Haas F1 Team held its own among these giants, with Grosjean qualifying a best-of-the-rest fifth with a lap of 1:29.761.
Grosjean and Magnussen used the Pirelli P Zero Red supersoft tire in Q1 and then switched to the Yellow soft tire for Q2. They set their fastest Q2 times on softs, as the rain thwarted their attempts to better their respective times when they made a second run on supersofts. Grosjean stayed on supersofts in Q3, posting a fast lap before another burst of rain impacted the session.
Taking the pole for the Japanese Grand Prix was Mercedes driver Lewis Hamilton. His fast lap of 1:27.760 was .299 of a second better than runner-up and teammate Valtteri Bottas. It was Hamilton’s milestone 80th career Formula One pole, his series-leading eighth this season and his second straight at Suzuka.
The Suzuka track record of 1:27.319, set last year by Hamilton in the final round of knockout qualifying, remained intact.
Before Grosjean, Magnussen and the rest of their Formula One counterparts participated in knockout qualifying, they had one final practice (FP3) to dial in their racecars for a quick lap around the track. Both drivers ran exclusively on the supersofts. However, a light rain shower disrupted the session for about 20 minutes, resulting in some tricky track conditions.
Magnussen ran 13 laps and set the 10th-fastest time with a 1:31.521 on his 10th tour. Grosjean tallied 14 laps and earned his best time on his 11th lap – a 1:31.636 that put him 11th overall.
Quickest in FP3 was Hamilton, whose fast lap of 1:29.599 was .116 of a second better than next best Sebastian Vettel of Scuderia Ferrari.