Nico Rosberg takes 30th career pole ahead Sunday’s Japanese Grand Prix
By: S. Harding, Xiro Xone News October 8, 2016 Updated: 6:26 AM
Mercedes driver Nico Rosberg took his 30th career pole position in Saturday’s Japanese Grand Prix qualifying after finishing on top in all three practice sessions.
“I’ve been feeling great all weekend, having felt incredibly comfortable in the car. It gave me the confidence to push even harder at the end of Q3 which meant I pulled out a great lap to recover pole from Lewis. Suzuka is a really difficult circuit because of the varying corners which means it's even more difficult to get the car set up just right. It's great to start from P1, but as we've realised, it's not the most important thing this year as you also need to get the start and the race strategy spot on,” said Rosberg.
Rosberg finished ahead his teammate Lewis Hamilton by 0.013s with a time of 1:30.647 after a mistake on his first run cost him time.
“This weekend has not been that easy. I’d been veering one way with the setup of the car and then had to shuffle back going into qualifying and it felt like I was in no-mans-land as we approached Q1. With that in mind, I’m extremely happy that I was able to bring it back to that kind of gap. Of course, starting on pole is always a good thing but let’s hope the work we’ve been doing on the starts pays off,” said Hamilton.
Ferrari's Kimi Raikkonen, who also finished ahead of his teammate, grabbed third place by a small margin of 0.079s ahead of Sebastian Vettel.
“Overall the car has been behaving quite good; we had suffered from some understeer, but we have been slowly getting better with the set up and the speed and I’m positively surprised how competitive and close to the Mercedes we were,” said Raikkonen.
However, Vettel will receive a three spot grid penalty for his turn one collision at last week’s Malaysian Grand Prix. Red Bull’s Max Verstappen finished fifth on the timesheet, 0.062s ahead of his teammate Daniel Ricciardo in sixth, with Force India’s Sergio Perez taking seventh, and Romain Grosjean in eighth for Haas F1.
Perez’s teammate Nico Hulkenberg qualified ninth in the second Force India while Esteban Gutierrez grabbed tenth to help give Haas F1 team their first Q3 appearance.
“I feel pretty good after that and I’m very pleased for the whole team. 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,” said Grosjean.
Williams Valtteri Bottas finished 11th along with his teammate Felipe Massa in 12th, with Bottas held up by traffic and Massa suffering a lock up. Daniil Kvyat took 13th for Toro Rosso and teammate Carlos Sainz took 14th after suffering a spin on his second run. With hope of a strong result for Honda in tomorrow’s race Fernando Alonso was only able to secure 15th ahead of Renault’s Jolyon Palmer who ended his day in 16th.
Jenson Button was knocked out in Q1 but split the Renault’s and had to settle for 17th after finishing 0.032s behind his teammate Alonso. Kevin Magnussen who was out qualified by his teammate took 18th. Sauber’s Marcus Ericsson and Felipe Nasr start tomorrow’s race in 19th and 20th.
The pair of Manor’s, Esteban Ocon and Pascal Wehrlein, start in 21st and 22nd. Ocon out-qualified his teammate by 0.208s for the second time this season. Wehrlein will start Sunday’s race with a gearbox penalty.