On-board radios Qualifying GP Japan | ‘I don’t understand this! Why are we waiting so long?’

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On-board radios Qualifying GP Japan |  'I don't understand this!  Why are we waiting so long?'

Max Verstappen took pole position again on Saturday and the Red Bull Racing driver can start the race on Sunday from the best possible starting position. However, his round was not flawless and Sergio Pérez almost managed to outwit the Dutchman. It was a great day for Red Bull, because for the first time this year both drivers share the front row. However, not everyone had reason to cheer. F1Maximaal lists the most beautiful on-board radios of the day.

As usual during a normal race weekend, the drivers first started the third and final free practice before qualifying. Due to heavy rain during the afternoon session a day ago, the drivers and teams were keen to gather some valuable information. Red Bull could also make good use of the track time, as Pérez complained about his RB20 early in the session. ‘****, what’s going on with the car’s drivability? Please take a look at it,” he requested his team.

Looking for Verstappen, Leclerc expresses frustrations towards Ferrari

Not much later, the Mexican again expressed his dissatisfaction. “I struggle a lot in the slow corners.” However, the 34-year-old was not the only driver who did not yet feel completely comfortable in his car. Teammate Verstappen was also still looking for the perfect balance during FP3. “I have a lot of understeer,” he told his team halfway through the session. Towards the end of the session the feeling was even less. “The car suddenly feels a lot worse,” his engineer Gianpiero Lambiase was told.

Things did not go smoothly at Ferrari in the last practice session either. Charles Leclerc was not satisfied with his team’s timing. “We have already received the flag?”, the Monegasque initially remained calm, but when his engineer responded affirmatively, frustration took over the number two in the World Cup. ‘I honestly don’t understand this at all. Why do we stay in the garage for so long? My goodness, this is VT3. We have two rounds, so let’s get on top of it. Come on!’, said Leclerc, who only finished tenth in the last free practice.

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On-board radios Qualifying GP Japan |  'I don't understand this!  Why are we waiting so long?'
Charles Leclerc did not have his best day of the season. (Photo: Ferrari F1 Media)

Ricciardo gives a sign of life, Stroll falls through the basket

At 8:00 am Dutch time it was time for the most important session of Saturday: qualifying. The expectation was that all top teams would advance to the second segment without too many problems, but suddenly Lance Stroll’s name dropped further and further down. The fate of the Canadian, who had now finished, was in the hands of Valtteri Bottas and the Finn showed no mercy. Stroll felt the downpour himself. “I think we’re out, aren’t we?” asked the Aston Martin driver, to which his engineer replied in the affirmative.

But where one driver was disappointed, the other celebrated. Esteban Ocon managed to give the troubled Alpine a place in Q2 again and, just like in Australia, this was considered a great success by the Frenchman. “Yeah, Whoooo!”, Ocon shouted over the on-board radio. Daniel Ricciardo also had every reason to be satisfied. Although the Australian was again defeated by his younger teammate Yuki Tsunoda, the difference between the two drivers was less than a tenth. Yet Ricciardo was not satisfied. “I am of course not satisfied, but I am happy that we did well,” said the multiple GP winner, who finished eleventh, while Tsunoda was allowed to go to Q3 for the third time this year.

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On-board radios Qualifying GP Japan |  'I don't understand this!  Why are we waiting so long?'
Daniel Ricciardo took a big step forward, but was still not satisfied. (Photo: Red Bull Content Pool/Getty Images)

Leclerc disappoints, Verstappen escapes unscathed

Ferrari was initially once again considered Red Bull’s major challenger, but both Carlos Sainz and Leclerc were unable to join in for a moment. Sainz complained in Q2 about a problem with the accelerator pedal and that didn’t sit well with him. ‘Ricky, I was driving full throttle, but then the accelerator pedal felt softer. Take a look at it,’ he told his engineer. The winner of the previous Grand Prix would eventually finish fourth, which was a lot better than his teammate Leclerc.

The Monegasque had a difficult qualifying and lost a lot of time, especially in the first sector. His first time in Q1 was not enough to ensure qualification for the next segment and so he has to use an extra set of softs, which he would not have enough in Q3. During his only run in the all-decisive session, Leclerc said he drove a great lap, but his 1:28.786 would only put him in P8. “This is all there is to it. I don’t understand it,” said the distraught Ferrari driver.

Verstappen and Red Bull, on the other hand, had good speed in Q3 and despite a few mistakes, the Dutchman captured his fourth pole position of the season. The reigning world champion still had to fear for his teammate Pérez, who was a rapper after two sectors. However, the Mexican met George Russell in his path in the last sector and this may have cost him pole position. Verstappen was happy with pole, but not with his lap. ‘Not bad, not bad. I could have done a better lap, but it doesn’t matter,” said Verstappen. Lewis Hamilton also had a small resurrection, the seven-time world champion surpassed his younger teammate Russell for the first time in 2024. However, he could not explain the difference of half a second to Verstappen. “Where did that half second come from, man?”

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