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HIGHLIGHTS: Watch the action from qualifying at Suzuka as Verstappen pips Leclerc and Sainz to pole

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Max Verstappen took his fifth pole position of the season in a tight qualifying battle with the Ferrari drivers at Suzuka, taking the first step to sealing his second consecutive drivers’ championship.

Verstappen set a time of 1m 29.304s that could not be bettered by his rivals, with Charles Leclerc, in second, just 0.010s off the pace. Carlos Sainz, in third, was 0.057s behind the Red Bull driver, with Sergio Perez rounding out the top four.

Esteban Ocon put in a fine final lap to secure P5, ahead of his team mate Fernando Alonso in seventh. Sandwiched between the two Alpine drivers was Lewis Hamilton, in sixth, with the other Mercedes of George Russell in P8.

READ MORE: Verstappen beats Leclerc and Sainz to pole position in ultra-close Japanese GP qualifying

In his final qualifying session at Suzuka, Sebastian Vettel was ninth fastest, ahead of Lando Norris in 10th. Home favourite Yuki Tsunoda suffered through a brake issue to qualify 13th, with his AlphaTauri team mate Pierre Gasly in 17th.

Click on the video player above to relive the action from a tight qualifying battle at Suzuka as we get set for tomorrow’s Japanese Grand Prix.

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