Nico Rosberg has just edged out his team-mate Lewis Hamilton by .013 of a second to take pole position for the Japanese Grand Prix. The session was the closest of the season between the two Mercedes drivers on their way to their tenth front row lock out of the season.
The battle between the two Mercedes drivers came down to just 83cm on track around the 3.6 mile circuit. But Rosberg has appeared all weekend just to have the slight edge over Hamilton and that continued with a perfect lap around the classic Suzuka circuit.
Rosberg told the press conference “Yeah, of course, happy with the result in the end. I was going well the whole weekend, I had a good balance in the car, feeling good, feeling comfortable so that’s what allows me then to put in a lap like that in the end.”
Hamilton added “It’s been a weekend of a lot of work that’s gone on, getting the car set-up right and some big changes went into qualifying. Considering that, to be that close I was really happy with it. I got everything I could…”
Kimi Raikkonen will start third ahead of Ferrari team-mate Sebastian Vettel in fourth. However, the German was awarded a three place penalty on Sunday following the first corner contact with Max Verstappen going into Turn One which then caused him to tag Rosberg at the Malaysian Grand Prix.
This intern promotes the Dutch teenager to fourth and his team-mate Daniel Ricciardo to fifth after they qualified behind the two Ferrari’s who had led the early pace. Verstappen was a tenth faster than Ricciardo on track.
Sergio Perez form he has shown recently in the Force India to qualify seventh to start sixth. Romain Grosjean showed that Haas are moving forward as he set the exact same time as Perez for seventh but the Mexican starts ahead as he set the time first.
It was a good session for Haas as they managed to get both Grosjean and Esteban Gutierrez through to Q3 for the first time with the Force India of Nico Hulkenberg in between them. This came at the expense of both the Williams who missed out by almost six tenths of a second.
Valtteri Bottas will start eleventh with Felipe Massa twelfth. McLaren’s hopes of a good weekend for engine supplier Honda are in tatters with the team proving uncompetitive this weekend. Jenson Button was the first big casualty of the session being knocked out in Q1 and things didn’t get better either as Fernando Alonso could only manage fifteenth.
Button told BBC News “All weekend it has been a struggle for me. On Friday the set-up was not working for me, and then this morning we had an issue with the power-unit.”
“They promised me they would fix it and they did, but I ended up three hundredths behind my team-mate.” He added.
Jolyon Palmer starts sixteenth with Renault team-mate Kevin Magnussen eighteenth ahead of Marcus Ericson and Felipe Nasr in the Sauber.
Esteban Ocon out qualified Pascal Wehrlein by more than two tenths of a second, but a penalty means Wehrlein was due to drop five places for a unscheduled gearbox change so starts last.