F1 Japanese Grand Prix qualifying result: Hamilton on front row as Rosberg claims pole
PUBLISHED: 07:48 04 October 2014 | UPDATED: 10:23 05 October 2014
Formula One driver Lewis Hamilton will start the 2014 Japanese Grand Prix from the front row at Suzuka, with Mercedes teammate Nico Rosberg on pole position.
The Mercedes team completed yet another front-row lockout in qualifying in Japan this morning (Saturday).
Rosberg threw down the gauntlet in Q3 to take the Suzuka pole position two-tenths of a second ahead of Hertfordshire-born Silver Arrows rival Hamilton.
Having retired from the Singapore Grand Prix, Rosberg went fastest in the Japanese qualifying top 10 shoot-out with a lap of 1m 32.506s.
Hamilton, the 2008 F1 world champion, could only manage a time of 1m 32.703s in reply, after crashing during third practice earlier in the day. Hamilton’s second place is his 68th career front-row start and his 11th in 2014.
Suzuka – the stats you need
* Race distance: 53 laps (307.471km/191.054 miles)
* Start time: 15:00 (local)/06:00 (GMT)
* Circuit length: 5.807km/3.608 miles
* 2013 winner: Sebastian Vettel
* 2013 pole: Mark Webber
* Lap record: Kimi Raikkonen (McLaren MP4-20) 1m31.540s (228.372km/h)
Valtterri Bottas was third fastest in qualifying with a lap of 1m 33.128s and will have Williams colleague Felipe Massa alongside him on the second row of the Suzuka grid.
Fernando Alonso finished fifth for Ferrari in the provisional qualifying results, with Red Bull’s Daniel Ricciardo sixth.
The McLaren pair of Kevin Magnussen and Jenson Button will team up on the fourth row in seventh and eighth places respectively.
Four-time world champion Sebastian Vettel, who is leaving Red Bull for Ferrari at the end of the season, qualified only ninth on a wet set-up in preparation for Sunday’s expected rain.
2014 Japanese Grand Prix qualifying
Suzuka qualifying result top 10
1 Nico Rosberg (Mercedes)
2 Lewis Hamilton (Mercedes)
3 Valtteri Bottas (Williams)
4 Felipe Massa (Williams)
5 Fernando Alonso (Ferrari)
6 Daniel Ricciardo (Red Bull)
7 Kevin Magnussen (McLaren)
8 Jenson Button (McLaren)
9 Sebastian Vettel (Red Bull)
10 Kimi Raikkonen (Ferrari)
Kimi Raikkonen will line-up alongside Vettel on the fifth row of the grid in 10th place.
After qualifying, Mercedes ace Hamilton admitted: “It wasn’t the best of sessions today but it was a decent recovery considering the crash in FP3. I just overcooked it this morning and the team did a fantastic job to put the car back together.
“Our mechanics are the best, they work so hard to get everything perfect. I feel good but I just wasn’t quick enough today.
“Nico did a great job, he looked very quick, particularly in Turn Eight, but I don’t feel like I’ve quite had the pace all weekend. I’m still second and we’ve seen races where we’ve come back from further than that, so I’m excited for tomorrow.”
As for the typhoon threat, Hamilton added: “I’ve heard there’s some rain coming, it’s going to make it very hard but it makes it more of a lottery.”
Rosberg’s 12th career F1 pole position puts him level with David Coulthard and Gerhard Berger on the all-time list. He said: “That was one of the best qualifying sessions we did this year.
“The team did an incredible job to give me a brilliant car. It was so enjoyable to drive this wonderful track with that Silver Arrow.
“The balance was perfect, so I was able to push a lot and go to the limits in the corners.
F1 World Drivers’ Championship standings
After 2014 Singapore Grand Prix:
1 Lewis Hamilton (Mercedes) 241 points
2 Nico Rosberg (Mercedes) 238
3 Daniel Ricciardo (Red Bull) 181
4 Fernando Alonso (Ferrari) 133
5 Sebsatian Vettel (Red Bull) 124
6 Valtteri Bottas (Williams) 122
“It’s always a great battle against Lewis; we push each other very much through the sessions. Sometime he finds a tenth there, then I find a tenth here. That’s why I enjoy the situation so much.”
Looking ahead to Sunday’s race, Rosberg added: “For tomorrow I think we are well prepared. Even in the wet our car is very quick as we have seen in Spa this year.
“So I definitely look forward to the race here in Japan.”
Rosberg claimed provisional pole with his first timed run in Q3 with teammate Hamilton 0.317s slower, Nico clocking 1m 32.629s to Lewis’ lap of 1m 32.946s.
2014 F1 World Constructors’ Championship
After 2014 Singapore Grand Prix
1 Mercedes 479 points
2 Red Bull 305
3 Williams 187
4 Ferrari 178
5 McLaren 111
Both Mercedes drivers improved with their final hot laps, but German Rosberg held the advantage and once again out-qualified Hamilton.
However, a super typhoon is set to hit Japan on Sunday when the Suzuka race is about to start.
Rosberg, Hamilton and Bottas were also the top three in Q2, the Mercedes drivers recording times of 1m 32.950s and 1m 32.982s respectively with their first laps on the board.
Out in Q2 were Jean-Eric Vergne, Force India’s Sergio Perez, Toro Rosso driver Daniil Kvyat, who is set to replace Vettel at Red Bull, Nico Hulkenberg, Adrian Sutil and Esteban Gutierrez, with Vettel only just avoiding the drop zone in 10th place.
Hamilton went fastest in the first phase of qualifying with a lap of 1m 33.611s – just 0.060s ahead of Rosberg on a 1m 33.671s.
But Rosberg then held the upper hand in Q2 and Q3 to claim Mercedes’ 14th pole of the 2014 season.
After watching his team’s fourth consecutive qualifying one-two, Mercedes-Benz Motorsport chief Toto Wolff said: “That was a fantastic battle between two drivers competing at the very highest level.
“Every day, somebody asks us whether the momentum is shifting one way or the other, but the reality is that they are both working so hard to find every little advantage, and trying to get the maximum out of every session.
“They were watching video replays of their laps during qualifying, analysing telemetry overlays as well, and it’s just fantastic to see this level of pure, intense competition between them.”
Wolff added: “Nico did a perfect job today [Saturday] and improved with every single run, finishing it off with a very strong pole position.
“Lewis was compromised by his accident this morning and something like this will always be sitting at the back of your mind. But he still will start from the front row, so it was a good recovery from him.
“Looking to tomorrow, we are expecting rain coming in and that will give a very different picture to today.
“I guess we can expect one of those typical Japan races with lots of Safety Cars and exciting moment. We’d rather keep it quiet like today – but we don’t get to choose!”
Mercedes technical director Paddy Lowe praised the team for getting Hamilton out for qualifying after his crash in third practice.
Lowe said: “After Lewis’ accident in practice this morning, it was a great recovery by the team to put his car back together and get both drivers out on time at the start of Q1.
“We ran the exact programme we had planned, progressing through the first two sessions with a single run and then two option runs in the final part.
“We saw a great fight between our two drivers for the front row, and it was great to see the strong pace of the car at this circuit which is very demanding for both the engine and the aerodynamics.”