Nico Rosberg secured his eighth pole position of the season at Suzuka, having beaten teammate and championship rival Lewis Hamilton by two tenths of a second in today’s qualifying session that determines the grid order for tomorrow’s F1 Japanese Grand Prix.
ROSBERG PUTS THE 'HAMMER' ON HAMILTON
Rosberg was quicker than Hamilton in both the runs during the final leg of qualifying as he tried to re exert his authority over the Brit, having lost the lead in the F1 drivers championship. The German’s laptime of 1:32.506 around the Honda owned facility was two tenths quicker than Hamilton’s time of 1:32.703 who starts alongside on the front row. Most of his advantage came in the second sector where Hamilton repeatedly locked up at the hairpin.
WILLIAMS BEST OF THE REST IN QUALIFYING
Williams were the second quickest F1 team in qualifying with Valtteri Bottas and Felipe Massa occupying the second row of the grid. However, the Grove based squad found themselves six tenths behind the works Mercedes.
Further back, Fernando Alonso qualified in his usual fifth spot with a laptime of 1:33.740. Meanwhile, 2007 F1 champion Kimi Raikkonen in the other Ferrari completed only a single run in Q3 and could qualify no higher than tenth.
Red Bull have opted for a wet weather set up in anticipation of rain on Sunday. Daniel Ricciardo qualified in sixth place on par with Red Bull’s target of qualifying on the third row of the grid. Vettel, however, who leaves the outfit at the end of the season, in a bombshell announcement made earlier today, was only ninth quickest - four tenths down on his teammate.
The McLarens were sandwiched between the two Red Bulls with rookie Kevin Magnussen again having the edge over his world champion teammate Jenson Button. The Woking based outfit has made major strides in their one lap pace over the last few races. Race pace, however, continues to be a major problem.
In Q2, Jean Eric Vergne outqualified his teammate Daniil Kvyat who is set to progress to Red Bull F1, after just one season in energy drink brand’s junior team. Vergne will line up 11th on the grid while Kvyat will start from 13th place.
Force India F1 continued to slowly fall at the back of the midifield pack with neither of the drivers making it into Q3. Sergio Perez qualified 12th while Hulkenberg made a mistake in the chicane on his final flying lap to take 14th place. Better race pace, however, puts them in a strong position to leave Suzuka with a couple of points.
Sutil and Gutierrez will start alongside in 15th and 16th places for Sauber, ahead of Lotus duo of Pastor Maldonado and Romain Grosjean. Both the Lotuses were eliminated in Q1 along with Caterham and Marussia.
In the fight for prime spot among the backmarkers, Marcus Ericsson surprisingly emerged victorious, with a new front wing on his Caterham.