SUZUKA, Japan — official series release — Clive Mason/Getty Images AsiaPac photo —
Saturday’s qualifying session at the Suzuka Circuit finished in dramatic fashion after Daniil Kvyat crashed his Red Bull at the end of Q3, leaving Mercedes’ Nico Rosberg on pole for the Japanese Grand Prix.
Rosberg ended up less than a tenth of a second ahead of teammate Lewis Hamilton, scoring his 17th career F1 pole and moving into a tie with the legendary Jackie Stewart for 16th on the series’ all-time list with his lap of 1:32.584.
“It was difficult to set up the car here for the dry conditions because we had the two wet sessions yesterday, but when we were able to practice some high fuel and qualifying runs today I felt really good about the car,” Rosberg said. “I nailed my laps and I was already on another good quick lap when Dani hit the wall. I was, of course very happy to hear that he was okay, but as for our car — I’m confident for tomorrow.”
Hamilton, who posted a time of 1:32.660, will start from the outside of the front row as he searches for his eighth victory of the 2015 championship.
“The car feels perfect this weekend,” Hamilon said, an ominous note for the rest of the grid. “My engineers did a fantastic job and I enjoyed the battle with Nico. He did a great job and it was exciting today. This is a track where you’re constantly fighting to gain more and more; the last lap started so well and I was up by turn seven but the red flag came out in the end.”
Williams were the Silver Arrows’ biggest rivals, with Valtteri Bottas third (1:33.024) and Felipe Massa fifth (1:33.337), split by the Ferrari of Sebastian Vettel among those in the fast five.
Kimi Raikkonen, in the sister Ferrari, was sixth and Daniel Ricciardo was seventh for Red Bull ahead of Lotus’ Romain Grosjean.
Neither Force India’s Sergio Perez or Kvyat put down a lap in the final round of qualifying, and will start ninth and 10th on the grid Sunday as a result.
Kvyat though, did walk away from the wreckage of his heavily-damaged RB11. The Russian put a wheel on the grass on the run up to the hairpin and lost control, hitting the barriers and barrel rolling to a halt.
“I’ve never rolled a racing car before and they say there’s a first time for everything,” Kvyat quipped after climbing from his car. “I’m feeling more disappointment than pain though. I put two wheels on the grass and there was not much run off area at that point so it put me straight into the wall. I was pushing hard after a messy FP3 and [what happened] is the consequence of going over the limit. The car looks really bad and I’m sorry for the guys who have already had a tough couple of weeks and now they have even more work to do.”
“[Before the crash] the car felt good in the fast sections, even though we lack the speed in a straight line. I’ll try my best as usual. and we’ll see what happens.”
The 21-year-old will start Sunday’s race from the pit lane.
CREDIT: Formula One