2023 Japanese Grand Prix: Qualifying Tyre Analysis – Max Verstappen took the Pirelli Pole Position Award for the Japanese Grand Prix, the Dutchman’s ninth of the year, a number that can no longer be beaten this season. It’s the second time the Red Bull driver has topped the number of poles in a year, the previous occasion dating back to 2021, when he took ten. It is Max’s 29th career pole, which puts him level in the record books for this one-lap discipline with Juan Manuel Fangio.
As for the tyres, it was an almost entirely Soft day. The red-banded tyres not only monopolised qualifying, which is nearly always the case when the standard tyre rules are in place, but also the third and final free practice session, when only three drivers used anything other than the C3: Stroll (Aston Martin) did ten laps on the C1, while the two AlphaTauri drivers, Lawson and Tsunoda did the same number on the C2.
Verstappen made the most of being the only driver to have three sets of new Softs going into qualifying. The reigning world champion used a set for his only run in Q1, reusing it in Q2, comfortably making the cut to the next phase without having to rely on a new set. Then it was showtime for Max in Q3 when, on his final run, he improved on his previous best by one and a thousandth seconds.
Mario Isola – Pirelli Motorsport Director
“Congratulations to Max Verstappen, who with today’s performance secures the record for the most pole positions of the season for the second time in his career: we will have a special award for him in Abu Dhabi! On the technical front, today all the teams prepared meticulously for qualifying, looking for the best way to manage the Softs which, at one of the most probing tracks from a tyre perspective, were delivering their peak performance on the first timed lap.
Now looking ahead to tomorrow’s race, we feel that a two-stop will clearly be the most popular option, especially as temperatures should be the same as today. In fact, it will be interesting to see what combinations of compounds will be chosen by the strategists, given that all three of them have shown themselves capable of playing a part. The Hard is probably the favourite compound, with eight drivers having saved the two sets of C1 supplied, while the other twelve have one new set. Furthermore, the Soft, which obviously has shown the greatest signs of thermal degradation, could be useful for the first stint for those looking to make up places at the start, or also towards the end of the race, when with less fuel on board, a driver could try and exploit the performance difference compared to those who might possibly be running a slower and more used compound.”