Formula 1 world champion Max Verstappen is starting the Japanese Grand Prix from first place for the third year in a row. The 26-year-old Dutchman secured pole position for the race on Sunday (7 a.m./Sky) in Suzuka with a time of 1:28.197 minutes.

Verstappen finished just ahead of his Red Bull teammate Sergio Peréz, who finished second, less than a tenth of a second behind. Third place went to Lando Norris in the McLaren. For Dominator Verstappen it was the 36th pole position of his career and the fourth in a row this season.

Nico Hülkenberg, the only German driver in the field this year, drove his Haas racing car to twelfth place. The 36-year-old from the Rhineland narrowly missed the final qualifying round of the top ten.

Before the fourth round of the season on Sunday (7 a.m./Sky), Verstappen leads the championship standings with 51 points, just ahead of Ferrari driver Charles Leclerc (47) and Peréz (46). Verstappen did not finish in the last race in Australia due to a technical defect, but is once again the big favorite in Japan. He had won the Grand Prix in each of the past two years.