Rosberg Edges Hamilton To Take Japan Pole

Leading by 23 points going into this weekend, Nico Rosberg continued his success as the Mercedes driver clocked a 1:30:647 fastest time to just edge teammate and defending world champion Lewis Hamilton by .0013 seconds Saturday afternoon to take pole for Sunday’s Grand Prix of Japan at Suzuka. Kimi Raikkonen remained the top Ferrari challenger by taking third.

“I’ve been feeling great all weekend, having felt incredibly comfortable in the car.” Rosberg said afterwards. “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 realized, it’s not the most important thing this year as you also need to get the start and the race strategy spot on.”

Rosberg began his bid for the pole by finishing in the top five in the first session, and continued to improve by taking the best time in the second. Sebastian Vettel opened the afternoon qualifying period by being the fastest in the opening session. Jenson Button and Kevin Magnussen just missed moving on to the second round, as the latter had to be handed a penalty for exceeding the maximum time for an in-lap. In addition, Felipe Massa encountered the same situation and both were reprimanded instead of being forced to be handed a grid reduction.

The Williams entries of Massa and his teammate Valterri Bottas, along with Toro Rosso’s Dani Kvyat and Carlos Sainz Jr. all were eliminated in the second round. The bad performance for Williams means that they will have to work harder on Sunday to try and overtake Force India in the fight for fourth place in the constructor’s championship.

Vettel continued to disappoint for Ferrari as the best he could do was fourth, while Red Bull drivers Max Verstappen and Daniel Ricciardo, fresh from their 1-2 in the last round in Malaysia, could only do no better than fifth and sixth, respectively. Force India’s Sergio Perez and Nico Hulkenberg were seventh and ninth, while the American Haas F1 Team had their best qualifying performance yet to date as Romain Grosjean and Esteban Gutierrez took eighth and tenth.

For Rosberg, it meant that it could bring another chance of closing in on the title, but Hamilton, who completely changed his attitude following the disaster last week, did not want to comment about anything to the press afterwards following the media criticizing him using snapchat during the Thursday news conference. While in the Mercedes hospitality room, A journalist there even asked if something was on his mind.

“Yeah, I do and the smiles on your faces will probably be no longer.” Hamilton replied. “I’m not actually here to answer your questions, I’ve decided. With the utmost respect — there are many of you here that are super supportive of me and those of you [that are] hopefully know that I know who they are — but there are others, unfortunately, that often take advantage of certain things. The other day was a super lighthearted thing and if you thought that I was disrespectful, it was honestly not the intention — it was a little bit of fun.”

“But what was more disrespectful was what was then written worldwide and I’m just kind of in a position where — unfortunately there are some people here and it’s not them that have done it — unfortunately the decision I will take affects those that are super supportive, so that’s why I say with the utmost respect, but I don’t really plan on sitting at many more times for these kinds of things. So, my apologies, and I hope you guys enjoy the rest of your weekend.”

With this, Hamilton walked out of the room and never went to the post-qualifying press conference.

Rosberg on the other hand, felt that the fight against him will not just come from his teammate.

“Lewis (Hamilton) will push hard and so will the Ferraris and the Red Bulls. It’s clear that both these teams looked very strong on the high fuel. It will be an exciting race tomorrow, in front of Suzuka’s amazing fans. I’m definitely looking forward to it!”

Share Button