Verstappen Takes Japanese Grand Prix Pole Despite Scary Near-Crash

Red Bull’s Max Verstappen took his fifth pole of the 2022 Formula 1 season ahead of the Japanese Grand Prix, but it didn’t come without some controversy.

The reigning world champion — who has the chance to clinch another one this weekend at Suzuka — topped Q1 and put up the second-fastest time of Q2 behind Alpine’s Fernando Alonso.

However, It was Q3 when all the drama happened.

It was noticeable that each team had to handle their out-laps differently. Some had to push to get temperature into their tires, while others could take it more leisurely.

McLaren’s Lando Norris was one driver pushing as he approached the circuit’s final chicane, and came across Verstappen.

Fortunately, Norris was quick enough to avoid a collision. You don’t even want to think about how bad that crash could’ve been.

Unfortunately, that off-circuit excursion more or less tanked Norris’ Q3, and he’ll line up in P10.

Red Bull Racing’s Max Verstappen and McLaren’s Lando Norris had a very close call during qualifying ahead of the Japanese Grand Prix at Suzuka. (Photo by JUSTIN TALLIS / AFP) (Photo by JUSTIN TALLIS/AFP via Getty Images)

So What Happened Between Verstappen And Norris?

What on the hell happened there? We can all take out guesses. My guess was Verstappen was trying to put heat in the tires by giving it some juice and doing a burnout but lost the rear.

But who cares what I think, because Verstappen explained.

“We were all on our out-lap – all lining up to try and create a gap to everyone – and somehow he still wanted to get me into the chicane. I was at the point of accelerating, but I was on very cold tires, so I had a little moment and that’s why he had to drive around me,” Verstappen said.

“If you are just a bit more respectful, then everyone is anyway already lining up. I don’t think anyone is trying to pass into that last chicane, so basically, by trying to pass me, you create that kind of problem.”

Soooooo, he placed the blame on Lando. He makes a decent case, but you know who didn’t see it that way?

The stewards.

Verstappen was given a reprimand but kept the first spot on the grid for Sunday’s (on the east coast at least) Grand Prix.

Follow on Twitter: @Matt_Reigle

Written by Matt Reigle

Matt is a University of Central Florida graduate and a long-suffering Philadelphia Flyers fan living in Orlando, Florida. He can usually be heard playing guitar, shoe-horning obscure quotes from The Simpsons into conversations, or giving dissertations to captive audiences on why Iron Maiden is the greatest band of all time.

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