Nico Rosberg zooms in Suzuka
German claims pole position, edging out teammate Lewis Hamilton after Daniil Kvyat survives crash
Suzuka (Japan): Nico Rosberg re-established Mercedes’ supremacy in qualifying for today’s Japanese Grand Prix by seizing pole position from team-mate Lewis Hamilton in a session that was ended slightly early by a massive accident for Red Bull’s Daniil Kvyat.
Nico Rosberg celebrates after claiming pole position during qualifying for the Japanese GP at Suzuka Circuit on Saturday. PIC/Getty Images
Rosberg lapped the 5.8-kilometer long Suzuka circuit in one minute 32.584 seconds, just seven hundredths of a second ahead of Hamilton. Williams driver Valtteri Bottas, who set a time over four-tenths of a second slower than Rosberg’s, starts third.
Red Bull driver Daniil Kvyat’s car is moved onto a truck after his crash in the qualifying session at the Japanese Grand Prix in Suzuka on Saturday. Inset: Daniil Kvyat. PICs/AFP & getty images
Yesterday’s pole was the 17th of Rosberg’s career but only his second so far this year. It also marked a return to form for Mercedes after an uncharacteristically underwhelming display by the world champions at the last race in Singapore.
“Very happy, great day today, and good comeback also for the team,” Rosberg said after qualifying.
“It’s fantastic after such a difficult weekend in Singapore to be back to our usual strength today, strong performance today from the team, really turned things around, optimised everything for this track.
“And for me, I pretty much nailed my laps today so really pleased with the way it went and a great position to be in for tomorrow,” the German, who also started last year’s race at Suzuka on pole, said.
Kvyat’s accident in the dying seconds of the session meant drivers could do just one run, instead of their usual two, in the final 12-minute pole-position shootout phase of qualifying. The Russian, who escaped unhurt, lost control of his car after dropping a wheel onto the grass in the run up to the hairpin.
His Red Bull slammed into the barriers and rolled before coming to rest in a shower of gravel and carbon-fibre debris.
I’m okay: Daniil Kvyat
“Yeah, I’m okay,” the 21-year-old told his team over the radio, also giving marshals a thumbs-up from the car.
Rosberg trails Hamilton by 41 points in the standings with six rounds to go, including today’s race. He is chasing his fourth win of the season while Hamilton, who made mistakes on his sole pole-position attempt, is gunning for his eighth. Behind the top three, Sebastian Vettel set the fourth-fastest time, the Ferrari driver struggling to match the pace at the front just a week after his assured win in the Singapore Grand Prix.
Japanese Grand Prix: Qualifying: Star Sports 4 & HD 4, 10:25