Mercedes engines to start 1-2-3 at Suzuka

Nico Rosberg gets 2nd pole of 2015
Nico Rosberg gets 2nd pole of 2015

As predicted, superior Mercedes power won the pole for the Japanese GP. Nico Rosberg claimed his 2nd pole position of 2015 for the Japanese Grand Prix, but he was lucky as his teammate Lewis Hamilton was sure to beat him if not for a spectacular accident by Red Bull's Daniil Kvyat that brought a premature end to qualifying at Suzuka.

Rosberg was marginally faster than Hamilton during the first runs in Q3, taking provisional pole by 0.076s.

Kvyat put a wheel off the track turning in to the kink after the Degner Curves and his Red Bull plastered the barrier on the outside, tearing off the left-hand side of the car and rolling over.

The Russian was unhurt but the accident brought out the red flags and halted any hopes for Hamilton to beat Rosberg like he always does.

The Williams-Mercedes of Valtteri Bottas set the third fastest time making it a Mercedes engine 1-2-3 on the fast Suzuka circuit.

Vettel will have to pull off a miracle to beat the HP advantage of the Mercedes'
Vettel will have to pull off a miracle to beat the HP advantage of the Mercedes'

Sebastian Vettel will start 4th in his underpowered Ferrari, rumored to be 50 to 100 HP down on power from the Mercedes.

Felipe Massa made a mistake at the chicane on his best lap and wound up fifth, or it might have been a Mercedes 1-2-3-4.

Daniel Ricciardo heads up row four alongside Romain Grosjean in the Lotus. With Kvyat unable to complete a lap, he is listed as ninth fastest, while Sergio Perez is tenth having been prevented from completing his one and only run because of the Russian's accident.

With a three-place grid penalty pending following his collision with Massa in Singapore, Nico Hulkenberg qualified 11th but will start 14th, placing him behind Carlos Sainz, Pastor Maldonado and Fernando Alonso on the grid after each failed to progress beyond Q2.

Max Verstappen, meanwhile, will start 15th after his Toro Rosso ground to a halt on the exit of the hairpin during the closing stages of Q1 with reported electronic issues, preventing him from setting a time in Q2.

Will Stevens won the private battle of the hapless back of the grid Manor Marussias after teammate Alexander Rossi aborted his first run because of Ericsson's spin, and had his second attempt hindered due to the yellows for Verstappen's car. The team is too stupid to go out early enough so there is more time for another attempt should something like this happen.

There is a reason why the team is dead last many seconds slower than the rest of the cars. Rossi's F1 career will soon be over. Driving for Manor Marussia makes any driver look like a wanker. Rossi is now outside the 107% qualifying rule and could be excluded from the grid, but the race stewards know he is fast enough and will probably allow him to start.

QUOTES

Nico Rosberg
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 got a really good feeling. I nailed my laps and I was already on another good quick lap when Dani hit the wall. Then the team informed me that he is fine so we were all very happy to hear that. I'm confident for tomorrow. Thanks to the team for this car, It seems that we are coming back stronger here than in Singapore.

Lewis Hamilton
The car feels perfect this weekend. 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. It was a big crash but fortunately Daniil walked away. Tomorrow is going to be hard; it depends on the conditions. The start will be crucial as you can't follow closely here and it will be hard to pass but I will give it my best shot.

[adinserter name="GOOGLE AD"]Toto Wolff, Head of Mercedes-Benz Motorsport
First of all, the most important thing is that Kvyat is okay after a big shunt at the end of qualifying. But then, of course, we're pleased to see that we are back on form at this circuit. I don't want to say that the status quo is resumed, because that would mean it is somehow automatic for us to be at the front each weekend; it's not, and the team and drivers have done a fantastic job to deliver this afternoon. We know we didn't get everything right in Singapore, today we managed to do that and qualified on the front row with a good margin. At the end, we'll never know what was still to come on the final run of Q3 – both drivers still had time to come, so it would have been an intriguing battle. But today, it was Nico who emerged on top and well done to him; the battle between him and Lewis has stayed close all year, with just a tenth or two between them, and they are both still pushing very hard. Looking to tomorrow, there are some question marks about the weather and, of course, we're all heading into the unknown after we lost Friday's running to the rain. So I'm expecting a big battle between our boys – and some surprises in the race.

Paddy Lowe, Executive Director (Technical)
It's good to hear that Daniil is okay after his big accident brought qualifying to an early end and curtailed the final runs for all the players. Congratulations to Nico on his pole, both he and Lewis did a great job. It was a difficult situation today as we tried to compress all of our practice running for race and qualifying preparation into a single one-hour session this morning after we couldn't run in the dry yesterday. The team did a great job to react and mastered a busy session and lunchtime very well indeed, making the right changes and extracting good pace from our car to secure the front row. We're hoping for a dry race tomorrow – without necessarily assuming this will be the case – and have put a lot of work into our start preparation. It will be a big priority to maintain position into Turn One, and then run a good race to bring two cars home to the finish – something we haven't managed to do since Spa.

Valtteri Bottas
I'm really happy to be third again in Suzuka. It has been a good day. We made some changes after FP3 and those changes were exactly what we needed, so as a team we have really performed well. I feel comfortable with the car and around here that is very important. I enjoyed the session a lot. We have limited data on tire wear due to the conditions yesterday, but starting third we need to target the podium tomorrow.

Felipe Massa
It was a good qualifying where we managed to save a set of tires for tomorrow. The car was competitive even if I didn't get to show its full pace due to the red flag in Q3. After such a big accident it's good to see Daniil jump out of the car. We have a long race tomorrow which we are looking forward to and I believe we can deliver a strong performance.

Kimi Raikkonen
The result of this qualifying is a bit disappointing, as we had a good speed all the way through and the behavior of the car was pretty good. The first two qualifying laps went well, but my first run in Q3 was average, my tires did not have the right grip. It's a bit disappointing not having been able to run my second lap: I'm sure we could have improved, but the red flag stopped the session. For the race tomorrow it's a bit unknown, because nobody had the time to run in dry conditions and do long runs, but I think we should be fine. Hopefully we have done all things correctly so that we can gain some positions. It's going to be a long race, starting behind other cars, but we'll try to make a good start and then go from there.

Sebastian Vettel
It was a tricky session for myself. I didn't really get going at the beginning, I couldn't feel the car so I struggled a bit to find the right balance. On my second run on the medium tires in Q3, there was a big improvement as compared to the lap I had done in Q2, as if the car had become alive. In the end we can be reasonably happy, I had a decent lap and I was a lot happier than previously; having scored a lap time which is competitive. Third place on the grid would have been the maximum today, but I missed this by one position. Mercedes are back to their usual level of competitiveness, as we have seen – unfortunately – all year. They will be the ones to beat tomorrow, but for sure we will try everything we can, even if we may expect stronger competition from Red Bull Racing and Williams.

[adinserter name="GOOGLE AD"]Daniel Ricciardo
Firstly, the most important thing is that Dany is okay. I haven't seen a replay; I only saw the car when I passed it but the team was on the radio to let me know he was fine. As for today's session, in general it went reasonably well. I don't think seventh shows how happy I was with the car, because I thought we were on for a top five, but we're still in a good place for tomorrow. We're also in a good place for tire wear, so we'll see what happens. Strategy is open for the race, it's possible to do one stop but two stops will probably be the trend.

Daniil Kvyat
I've never rolled a racing car before and they say there's a first time for everything. I'm feeling more disappointment than pain. 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 this 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. Where would I have finished? I don't know, but it should have been looking better than P10, because the car felt good in the fast sections, even though we lack the speed in a straight line. Tomorrow, we will try our best as usual.

Carlos Sainz
It's disappointing to be out in Q2, it was definitely a day to get into the top ten easily. Unfortunately, during my second Q2 run, we picked-up some vibrations on the front tires, which meant that I couldn't improve my time and missed out in getting into Q3. It's been difficult to adapt to this track in the dry. I had just 20 laps to learn the circuit and today it's all been a build-up until Q2, when I finally felt totally comfortable and knew exactly what lines to take. I was ready to get into Q3 and it was a big shame not to make it in the end. I was starting to have great fun! For tomorrow our objective is to finish in the points again. I have a set of new Option tires available, so that should help a bit, and I also have a good car so I'm convinced we can have a great race.

Max Verstappen
Certainly not the best of days! I had a sudden loss of power, all the electricity shut-down in the hairpin and from there on I couldn't do anything. It's very frustrating, because the car was going very well, but in the end it is what it is… We might be on the back foot again before the race, but we never give up. Hopefully tomorrow we have a bit more luck and can enjoy a good race – it would be good if some rain spices it all up! Our objective will be to finish within the top ten… We have to do some overtaking again, but I'm ready for it!

Romain Grosjean
I didn't expect to go into Q3, we thought we were half a second off so this was a great job from everyone! I had a really good lap for Q3. I didn't get to do my second run, but the main thing is that Daniil is okay and out of the car. For the race, we'll certainly aim to keep the starting position and score some points.

Pastor Maldonado
I was hoping to get into Q3 and although things were quite close, we didn't make it. We were still working on getting the best out of the medium compound tires from this morning and we improved a little bit this afternoon, but not enough. Hopefully the strategy, combined with saving new tires for tomorrow, should work and we can recover a few places in the race.

Will Stevens
Overall I'm pretty happy with qualifying today, as I've had limited running here. It was important to get a lap in early, so I was unaffected by the first yellow flag for Ericsson. I was improving on my second lap, but then the yellow flags came out in sector 2 and I had to slow. Our long runs looked good this morning, so I'm looking forward to tomorrow.

Alexander Rossi
To have a yellow flag on both my push laps is just the worst luck. I've never had a situation like that, so I was pretty shocked and disappointed by what happened today. Obviously I've been well within 107% during the weekend and I know the procedures, but even so, it's not a great feeling. There hasn't been much dry running so far, so we haven't had the best preparation for a dry race, but I'm enjoying the track and I know there's a lot more to come.

Lineup

Pos Driver Car Time Behind
1 Nico Rosberg Mercedes/Mercedes 1m32.584s 0.000s
2 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes/Mercedes 1m32.660s 0.076s
3 Valtteri Bottas Williams/Mercedes 1m33.024s 0.440s
4 Sebastian Vettel Ferrari/Ferrari 1m33.245s 0.661s
5 Felipe Massa Williams/Mercedes 1m33.337s 0.753s
6 Kimi Raikkonen Ferrari/Ferrari 1m33.347s 0.763s
7 Daniel Ricciardo Red Bull/Renault 1m33.497s 0.913s
8 Romain Grosjean Lotus/Mercedes 1m33.967s 1.383s
9 Sergio Perez Force India/Mercedes
10 Daniil Kvyat Red Bull/Renault
11 Carlos Sainz Toro Rosso/Renault 1m34.453s 1.869s
12 Pastor Maldonado Lotus/Mercedes 1m34.497s 1.913s
13 Fernando Alonso McLaren/Honda 1m34.785s 2.201s
14 Nico Hulkenberg Force India/Mercedes 1m34.390s 1.806s
15 Max Verstappen Toro Rosso/Renault
16 Jenson Button McLaren/Honda 1m35.664s 3.080s
17 Marcus Ericsson Sauber/Ferrari 1m35.673s 3.089s
18 Felipe Nasr Sauber/Ferrari 1m35.760s 3.176s
19 Will Stevens Marussia/Ferrari 1m38.783s 6.199s
20 Alexander Rossi Marussia/Ferrari 1m47.114s 14.530s

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