Mercedes AMG Petronas driver Nico Rosberg will be on pole for tomorrow’s race ahead of teammate Lewis Hamilton, who was 0.076 off the German’s pace. The team continued their domination from the third practice session. Rosberg also took pole last year, although Hamilton won that race.
Williams looked strong this session, and finished off the front row with Valtteri Bottas in 3rd. The Finn was 0.440 seconds off Rosberg’s pace and had a smooth qualifying session with minimal issues.
Ferrari were not as fast as they would have liked, slower than Mercedes and Red Bull in the early practice sessions as well. 4-time World Champion Sebastian Vettel was 0.661sec behind Rosberg and will begin in 4th; he will be the only Ferrari in the top 5, which was rounded up by Bottas’ Williams teammate Felipe Massa, who was last on the podium in Japan in 2012 with Scuderia Ferrari.
Problems continued for embattled McLaren, with Jenson Button knocked out in Q1 and his teammate Alonso in Q2. The pair are yet to progress to Q3 all year, and it is rumoured Button will announce his retirement at Suzuka following the race.
Toro Rosso driver Max Verstappen, who at 17 is the youngest driver on the grid, set a quick pace in Q1 but had a complete electrical failure as his car shut down towards the end of that session. His time put him in 8th, which meant that he would have progressed to Q2 had his vehicle not failed.
The final qualifying session came to a halt with 30 seconds to spare when Red Bull driver Daniil Kvyat, who set a quick pace in the early practice sessions, lost control of his car after going over the grass. His suspension snapping cleanly, Kvyat’s front left tyre rolled away from the car, which flipped over. The Russian would lose the rear half of his vehicle, but thankfully suffered no injuries in the incident.
Red flags were brought out following the incident with Kvyat, and with only 30 seconds to go the final qualifying session was concluded.
Final standings ahead of tomorrow’s race: