NOTEBOOK – Japanese Qualifying

Features Notebook

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.

Pole Lap – N. Rosberg

So we see Nico Rosberg going into the Casio Triangle and on the exit of turn seventeen he begins building up speed along the start finish straight on his way down to Turn One and Two. Breaks down from 315km to 175 and stays in the centre of the track. He then gets close to the inside at Two before running to the outside of two.

Goes into the S Curves, left into three, right into four at 172kpm,  dips down and back up into five and six before opening up the speed though Dunlop. Slows slightly for Degner Curve and into the short run to Nine which goes well. Under the bridge and through the kink at ten into the hairpin.

Down to 73kpm at the apex before heading through the flat out turn twelve heading to the multi apex Spoon at thirteen and fourteen. Good into part one then a brief wobble into part two before opening the throttle for the long run to sixteen. 317kpm at the entry to the flat out fifteen and begins breaking on way into Casio Triangle chicane.

One of the slowest part of the lap just under a 100kpm before once again opening it up for eighteen uses the DRS to set a 01:30.647 on the soft tyre and pole.

Hamilton on the back foot

During that qualifying session Lewis Hamilton just didn’t appear to have the edge over Rosberg. It looked as if Rosberg just had that edge of a champion in that session and made some good corners pushing his car to the limit and could deliver.

My question knowing what Christian Horner said in 2014 about Sebastian Vettel has Hamilton after two back to back titles become mentally tired from working too hard? Plus, his recurring engine failures built on his stress and mental strengths once again.

Hamilton said “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.”

Ferrari bounces back

After a few races where off the mark they have certainly began to come back at Red Bull this weekend which we thought they may do on single lap pace. But they may have a difficult race as Red Bull looked better on Friday with there long runs in practice.

We know Vettel also has that three place grid penalty which means Red Bull are going to start ahead of him on track. They have struggled this season to get with Red Bull in races and I can’t see that changing this weekend or for the rest of the season.

Vettel said “it has been a great result for us as a team; as for myself, obviously I messed up a bit in Q3 with the last sector, and lost a bit too much time. But, all in all, it has been a very good qualifying, our car has been handling well all through the sessions, due to a combination of many things, and it’s satisfying to be with both cars ahead of the Red Bulls.”

The force (goes even) further

Sergio Perez showed the potential that Force India are moving forward and they can fight with Williams who were an upset of that session today. The team are getting there and they will be able to fight tomorrow it seems to be for the best of the rest behind Mercedes, Ferrari and Red Bull.

“It was a very intense qualifying session and there were lots of competitive cars out there.” Said Perez

“I even finished with the same time as Romain [Grosjean] and I was lucky to be classified ahead of him. I am very happy about our performance, especially my lap in Q3.”

Haas double top ten

Romain Grosjean got Haas into the top ten for the first time this season and in there F1 career. This shows that the car may have potential and the team are miles ahead of where the new teams were at this point in 2010. They are able to fight with Force India a much more experienced team as Grosjean set the  pace during the session.

McLaren misery

McLaren wanted a good result this weekend with it being engine suppliers Honda’s home race. But this appears in tatters after a bad qualifying session starting with Jenson Button failing to get out of Q1. Button had problems we now know but it’s a disaster and after last years damaging headlines from Fernando Alonso they wanted a good weekend.

Yusuke Hasegawa Honda’s Head of F1 “ Today’s qualifying result was disappointing, with Fernando P15 and Jenson P17. Suzuka Circuit is a very difficult track to pull out a great lap unless both the chassis and power unit were perfectly well-balanced, so I think we were just lacking that as a team today to pull off a Q3 lap.”

Williams woes

Williams also ran into difficulties underperforming meaning they have missed out on Q3 this weekend. This is the surprise as we have seen the Mercedes power unit perform well for the works team and Force India.

Bottas we have expected and he still had the edge on Felipe Massa but if they work together they may get a few points here which is important for fourth in the championship.

Race preview

Well Sepang last weekend throw us off cause in what to expect. Mercedes will be wanting a trouble free day so they can seal the constructors championship with a 1-2. You can’t count Ferrari or Red Bull off as they now know according to Christian Horner they can pressure Mercedes into a mistake. Hamilton I feel needs to win convincingly to get his and to reassure himself that he can beat Rosberg and to close up in the title race.



Jack is responsible for the day-to-day running of Formula One Vault. He brings you all the brilliant content. Has an obsession with all things Formula One and anything with an engine.

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