Rosberg beats Hamilton to Japanese pole by 0.013 seconds

Nico Rosberg won a thrilling duel against his Mercedes team-mate and championship rival Lewis Hamilton to claim pole position at Suzuka.

This was Rosberg’s third successive Japanese Grand Prix pole and the margin was a tiny 0.013 seconds.

The current title leader was fastest in every practice session, and topped the field again in qualifying, but only after a late rally against a Hamilton charge.

Hamilton was playing catch up compared to his team-mate in Q1 and Q2, but went ahead after the first runs in Q3.

Rosberg leapt back to the top of the times with a one minute, 30.647 seconds on his final lap, as Hamilton fell just 0.013 seconds short of taking P1 despite an improvement of his own at the end.

Kimi Raikkonen produced a strong lap to qualify third quickest for Ferrari, the only other driver to make it below the one minute, 31 seconds target.

Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel was less than a tenth slower in fourth, but he faces a three-place drop on the grid thanks to his penalty for hitting Nico Rosberg at the first corner at last Sunday’s Malaysian Grand Prix.

Max Verstappen beat his Red Bull Racing team-mate Daniel Ricciardo to the fifth fastest time, also by less than a tenth of a second.

Haas got both cars through to Q3 for the first time, and was best of the rest behind the top six cars in Q2.

Romain Grosjean set an identical time to Force India’s Sergio Perez in Q3, but ended up eighth quickest, just ahead of the second Force India of Nico Hulkenberg.

Grosjean’s Haas team-mate Esteban Gutierrez was seventh fastest in Q2, but ended up cut adrift at the bottom of the top ten in Q3, over half a second slower than Grosjean.

The Williams pairing of Valtteri Bottas and Felipe Massa made only one run each in Q2, and were just edged out of the top ten by the Force Indias.

Bottas missed the cut by less than a tenth, while Massa was only 0.165 seconds further back and will start P12.

Daniil Kvyat felt he did the best he could to put his Toro Rosso with P13, fractionally faster than team-mate Carlos Sainz, who spun at Spoon Curve on his second run in Q2.

Fernando Alonso’s McLaren-Honda was only 0.004 seconds slower than Sainz in P15, 0.118 seconds ahead of the leading Renault of Jolyon Palmer.

Jenson Button failed to escape Q1 at Honda’s home circuit, ending up just 0.032 seconds shy of beating McLaren team-mate Alonso to the draw.

Renault’s Kevin Magnussen was P18, ahead of the Sauber pairing of Marcus Ericsson and Felipe Nasr and the Manors.

Ericsson was slowest of all after the first runs in Q1, but ended up just over a tenth ahead of his team-mate after Nasr failed to go faster on his second run.

Esteban Ocon out-qualified Manor team-mate Pascal Wehrlein for the second race in a row. On this occasion, by more than two tenths of a second, feeling he couldn’t have got much more out of his car.

The fact Wehrlein qualified last renders his five-place grid penalty for an illegal gearbox change potentially irrelevant.

So a very close and competitive qualifying session. Just 0.013 seconds the difference between the Mercedes drivers.

Great to see Haas making the top ten for the first time and yet all focus is on Mercedes. Can the team wrap up the constructors’ title in Japan? Signs point to yes thanks to Rosberg and Hamilton’s pace.

Japanese Grand Prix, qualifying standings:

1    Nico Rosberg    Mercedes    1m30.647s
2    Lewis Hamilton    Mercedes    1m30.660s
3    Kimi Raikkonen    Ferrari    1m30.949s
4    Max Verstappen    Red Bull-Renault    1m31.178s
5    Daniel Ricciardo    Red Bull-Renault    1m31.240s
6    Sergio Perez    Force India-Mercedes    1m31.961s
7    Sebastian Vettel    Ferrari    1m31.028s*
8    Romain Grosjean    Haas-Ferrari    1m31.961s
9    Nico Hulkenberg    Force India-Mercedes    1m32.142s
10    Esteban Gutierrez    Haas-Ferrari    1m32.547s
11    Valtteri Bottas    Williams-Mercedes    1m32.315s
12    Felipe Massa    Williams-Mercedes    1m32.380s
13    Daniil Kvyat    Toro Rosso-Ferrari    1m32.623s
14    Carlos Sainz    Toro Rosso-Ferrari    1m32.685s
15    Fernando Alonso    McLaren-Honda    1m32.689s
16    Jolyon Palmer    Renault    1m32.807s
17    Jenson Button    McLaren-Honda    1m32.851s
18    Kevin Magnussen    Renault    1m33.023s
19    Marcus Ericsson    Sauber-Ferrari    1m33.222s
20    Felipe Nasr    Sauber-Ferrari    1m33.332s
21    Esteban Ocon    Manor-Mercedes    1m33.353s
22    Pascal Wehrlein    Manor-Mercedes    1m33.561s

*Grid penalty for colliding into Roberg at Sepang

5 thoughts to “Rosberg beats Hamilton to Japanese pole by 0.013 seconds”

  1. Japanese Grand Prix qualifying review as reported by

    Nico Rosberg will start the 2016 Formula 1 Emirates Japanese Grand Prix from pole position after beating Mercedes team mate Lewis Hamilton by just 0.013s in qualifying at Suzuka on Saturday. Ferrari and Red Bull were breathing down their necks, with the Scuderia winning that battle as Kimi Raikkonen took third and Sebastian Vettel – carrying a three-place grid penalty for his collision in Malaysia – fourth.

    Max Verstappen out-qualified Red Bull team mate Daniel Ricciardo in fifth and sixth, with Sergio Perez next up for Force India. Haas were the surprise of the hour, with Romain Grosjean and Esteban Gutierrez eighth and tenth respectively, split by the second Force India of Nico Hulkenberg.

    Hamilton has never started from pole position here, and once again he was denied – Rosberg’s thirteen-thousandths of a second advantage equating to 82 centimetres on track – despite having taken the initiative earlier in Q3.

    The Ferraris set the pace in Q1, with Vettel just acing Raikkonen, 1m 31.659s to 1m 31.684s. Rosberg was third on 1m 31.858, with a baulked Hamilton in fourth on 1m 32.218s. But where the red cars had used the soft Pirelli tyres, the silver ones had done their times on mediums.

    Hulkenberg was fifth on softs with the Red Bulls of Verstappen and Ricciardo sixth and seventh on mediums.

    The big mover was Renault’s Jolyon Palmer, who vaulted late into Q2 with 1m 32.796s, while Fernando Alonso just made it with 1m 32.819s, fractions ahead of team mate Jenson Button, whose 1m 32.851s left him 0.032s down in 17th for McLaren. He, of course, was using the Honda-powered squad’s older-specification powertrain.

    Kevin Magnussen could not emulate Renault partner Palmer’s time, and was 18th on 1m 33.023s ahead of the Saubers of Marcus Ericsson and Felipe Nasr on 1m 33.222s and 1m 33.332s, while Esteban Ocon and Pascal Wehrlein – carrying a five-place grid penalty for a gearbox change – were on their tails in 21st and 22nd for Manor on 1m 33.353s and 1m 33.561s.

    Rosberg lowered his time to 1m 30.714s on softs in Q2; Hamilton matched him in S1 and S3, but lost four-tenths sliding wide in the Degners on his way to 1m 31.129s, which left him just ahead of the Ferraris of Vettel and Raikkonen as fifth-placed Verstappen rued traffic while matching the Finn.

    The surprise was Gutierrez in seventh and Grosjean in eighth for Haas, as late improvements kept the Force Indias in Q3.

    Out were the Williams duo, with Valtteri Bottas heading Felipe Massa, with 1m 32.315s to 1m 32.380s. Daniil Kvyat out-qualified Toro Rosso team-mate Carlos Sainz, as the latter spun in Turn 13 on his second run. The Russian did 1m 32.623s, the Spaniard 1m 32.685s. Right behind Sainz was Alonso on 1m 32.689s, as Palmer’s 1m 32.807s left him 16th.

    So, as ever, it all came down to Q3. Did Hamilton have an answer to Rosberg? Could Red Bull get back ahead of Ferrari?

    The answer to both questions was affirmative after the first runs. Ricciardo went fastest with 1m 31.240s, but that was beaten by Verstappen’s 1m 31.229s despite the latter’s talk of a loss of gear sync, then Raikkonen with 1m 31.184s before Rosberg went fastest again with 1m 0.953s. But then Hamilton went quicker still, with 1m 30.758s, as Vettel’s 1m 31.225s left him fourth. However you sliced it, the times were close…

    They were closer still in the second runs, when Rosberg grabbed the advantage back from Hamilton by thirteen-thousandths of a second… Their respective laps were 1m 30.647s and 1m 30.660s, as Raikkonen kept Ferrari ahead of Red Bull with 1m 30.949s and Vettel also pushed ahead of them on time – but not on the grid because of his three-place drop from Sepang – with 1m 31.028s. Verstappen had to be content with 1m 31.178s, as Ricciardo went sixth with 1m 31.240s.

    Further back, Perez claimed seventh for Force India with 1m 31.961s, a time later matched by Haas’ Grosjean, as team mate Gutierrez made it a fine day for the American team with 1m 32.547s for 10th. Between them, Hulkenberg was ninth in the second Force India on 1m 32.142s.

    With grid drops for Vettel and Wehrlein taken into the account, the provisional grid thus lines up: Rosberg, Hamilton; Raikkonen, Verstappen; Ricciardo, Perez; Vettel, Grosjean; Hulkenberg, Gutierrez; Bottas, Massa; Kvyat, Sainz; Alonso, Palmer; Button, Magnussen; Ericsson, Nasr; Ocon, Wehrlein.

  2. Despite missing out on pole position, Mercedes driver Lewis Hamilton was left feeling happy to be close to title rival Nico Rosberg after a close competitive qualifying. has the details.

    Lewis Hamilton declared himself “happy” despite being beaten to pole position for the Japanese Grand Prix by Mercedes team-mate Nico Rosberg after staging a late recovery with set up.

    Hamilton missed out on pole by just 13 thousandths of a second – the equivalent of 83 centimeres around the 5.807km circuit – with Rosberg taking top spot on the grid at this track for the third successive year.

    The reigning triple world champion, however, has conceded he only got that close following numerous late changes to his car.

    “I’m happy with qualifying,” said Hamilton.

    “It’s been a weekend of a lot of work, getting the car set up right, and big changes made for qualifying.

    “To get that close I’m very happy. I did as well as I could, and obviously if you have more laps you can find more time.

    “We kind of veered off on a different tangent in terms of set up this weekend and it wasn’t until qualifying I got it back.

    “It’s not easy going into qualifying with a completely different car, so that’s why I’m relatively happy considering what I did.

    “We’re in a good position for tomorrow.”

    Despite Rosberg’s poles in 2014 and ‘15, Hamilton has gone on to take the chequered flag both times, offering up hope of another win as he attempts to close the 23-point gap to the German at the top of the drivers’ standings.

    “History has shown I don’t have to be on pole to get the win,” said Hamilton.

    Hamilton had the edge after the first run in Q3, but it was Rosberg on top come the finish, however he knows the opening seconds of the race will prove crucial, particularly after being beaten off the line a year ago.

    “The start is going to be an important one,” said Rosberg.

    “We’ve seen this weekend it’s not too easy, downhill grip has been lower than usual.”

    “It’s been going well the whole weekend, I’ve had a good balance with the car, I’m feeling good, feeling comfortable and that is what allowed me to put in a lap like that in the end.

    “It was just a good lap, I just got it all done properly, and that’s it. I knew that I could do a good lap.

    “The first one in Q3 wasn’t perfect. I’m not sure why, I felt a bit less grip somehow.

    “I don’t really have an explanation, so after that I just had to get my head down and nail it.”

  3. Ferrari’s Kimi Raikkonen qualified in third place and yet commented that he was ‘positively surprised’ by pace. has the story.

    Kimi Raikkonen said he was “positively surprised” with the speed of his Ferrari after he qualified third for the Formula 1 Japanese Grand Prix at Suzuka.

    The Finn said on Friday that there was “a lot of lap time” left in his Ferrari after admitting to “fighting with the car” throughout the two practice sessions.

    But he turned it around to finish three tenths adrift of polesitter Nico Rosberg and 0.081s ahead of team-mate Sebastian Vettel, who drops three places to seventh because of a penalty for causing a collision at the start of the Malaysian Grand Prix.

    “It’s pretty much the same car that we raced a week ago,” said Raikkonen.

    “I don’t think many people had a lot of difference.

    “I’m positively surprised with how well the car has been behaving and how quick it has been.

    “It has been tricky to get the right balance but it’s been really good. So far so good.

    “Third is not exactly what we’re looking for but we were pretty close. It was not too bad.”

    Ferrari brought nine sets of soft tyres per driver to Suzuka – more than any other team – which meant it had enough available to run them in each of the three qualifying segments.

    Red Bull, which has recently outperformed Ferrari, only had six sets and got through Q1 on the mediums.

    When asked if using the soft consistently helped, Raikkonen said: “It doesn’t harm, that’s for sure.

    “It’s more easy when you have more sets of the same compounds so you can fine-tune.

    “In qualifying, there’s not an awful lot you can do if it is correct or not.

    “We have been suffering a bit of understeer all weekend.

    “Even in qualifying, it was slowing us down a little bit in the first sector but it got better in the end, we were a bit faster.

    “It’s very small details that have to come together and we put it more or less together.

    “The car has been behaving quite good and we try to do at least the same if not better tomorrow.”

  4. Pascal Wehrlein is set to take a five-place grid penalty for Sunday’s Japanese Grand Prix after Manor changed his Formula 1 gearbox.

    Autosport understands there is not a problem with the unit but Manor found a potential sequence of events could cause a failure.

    So as a precaution, the team opted to change the gearbox ahead of final practice at Suzuka.

    As it was his race gearbox, the change puts Wehrlein in breach of the rules that dictate gearboxes must last six consecutive events.

    The only exceptions to these rules, for which a five-place grid penalty applies for a breach, are for non-starters and non-finishers – for technical reasons – of the last race.

    Wehrlein was 20th quickest in second practice, 3.042s off the pace but just over a tenth quicker than team-mate Esteban Ocon.


  5. Haas delighted as Japan provides best qualifying to date as reported by

    The Haas team recorded their best qualifying performance so far on Saturday, as Romain Grosjean and Esteban Gutierrez finished eighth and tenth respectively at Suzuka. It was the first time the new team has seen both cars progress into the top-ten shootout.

    “To get both Romain and Esteban into Q3 was one of the targets for this year and we’ve now achieved it,” said team principal Guenther Steiner. “If you’re in your first year and you get two cars in there by merit, it’s fantastic. Hats off to the team and to the drivers.”

    The strong showing followed what has been an eventful weekend for the American squad. After their brake dramas last time out in Malaysia, Grosjean had further stopping issues on Friday, while Gutierrez was halted by a turbo problem.

    “I feel so happy for the whole team,” said Gutierrez. “It was surprising to arrive into qualifying and put both cars into Q3 as we started the weekend in a very difficult position.

    “We lost a lot of practice time in FP2 and we were not completely happy with the balance of the car, but as a team we managed to recover completely. It’s a great skill that we need to keep hold of as this really made the difference today.”

    Grosjean was thrilled to record the Ferrari-powered team’s best-ever grid slot, and even hinted that there could have been a bit more speed in the car around Suzuka’s legendary figure-or-eight course.

    “I feel pretty good after that and I’m very pleased for the whole team,” said the Frenchman. “We brought all the updates we had. We made the new front wing work on the car and that made a difference in qualifying. The whole session went very smoothly.

    “I didn’t get my DRS (Drag Reduction System) on the last stretch of the final corner. But, we’re here and tomorrow’s a long race at a very difficult track. Tyre degradation will be very important. Hopefully, if the balance is as good tomorrow as it was today, we should be fine.”

    While there was joy at Haas, it was quite the opposite at McLaren, where Fernando Alonso and Jenson Button could manage only 15th and 17th places on the grid for engine partner Honda’s home race.

    McLaren’s form had been on the up of late, with team getting at least one car into Q3 at three of the last four events, and Alonso says they need to study the data to understand their competitive downturn in Japan.

    “It’s not the right performance, let’s say,” he admitted. “All weekend we’ve been struggling to find balance and speed.

    “It seems a backwards step today. We need to analyse why we seemed to underperform, and find some speed for tomorrow. Maybe some weather changes will help us.”

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