MAX VERSTAPPEN produced one of the best laps in F1 history to take pole for the Japanese GP while Lewis Hamilton was left criticising his Mercedes after only making seventh.
SplashMax Verstappen secured yet another pole as he seeks a 13th win of the season[/caption]
Lewis Hamilton was left frustrated after only managing seventh in qualifyingRex
Verstappen was over half a second clear of McLaren duo Oscar Piastri and Lando Norris in what was one of the stand-out laps all time.
Red Bull boss Christian Horner said: “What we have witnessed is something very special.
“That last lap, the first sector was absolutely mighty. Gianpiero Lambiase [Verstappen’s race engineer] started winding him up before his last run ‘let’s see a 28 [a lap of 1m.28s.] in there’ and I said to GP ‘I would like to see four wheels on the car at the end of it’.
“That first run looked good enough to get the job done but then he went quicker again.
“All his laps have been stunning today. An absolutely mind-blowing performance.”
Verstappen’s lap was impeccable and former F1 driver Karun Chandhok said: “I’m still breathless watching that. I think that was one of the great qualifying laps in F1 history.
“He thought about every metre [of the lap] and for me that’s a driver who’s ahead of the car.”
McLaren continued their impressive resurgence with both drivers turning in mighty laps to start in second and third.
Hamilton said: “We as a team really need to when we go back and do the debrief – I hope the team already realise – but a second gap is huge. And it is real.
“To be two years in and still be a second down to the Red Bulls is not a good showing and we need to make sure we work hard over the winter to get back at least half that gap before next year.
“We have a very peaky car. It is like trying to balance a knife on its tip.
“It is never perfectly balanced, it is one way or the other. You try and get it as close as you can to the middle but it is very hard to do each weekend.”
Meanwhile, Daniel Ricciardo and Yuki Tsunoda will continue to drive for AlphaTauri next season.
Liam Lawson, who has filled in for Ricciardo who broke his hand in Zandvoort, will be reserve and simulator driver for both of Red Bull’s F1 teams.
Ricciardo, who could be back at the US GP in Austin, said: “I’m stoked to be driving with Yuki again next year and continuing the journey with Scuderia AlphaTauri.
“Following the progress we have already made and the plans for the future, it’s an exciting time for the team.
“We are building and it is a great feeling. There is a lot of work to do, but we are heading in the right direction and there is a lot to look forward to.”