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Nico Rosberg rockets to Suzuka F1 pole, Lewis Hamilton just 82cm behind
Japanese Grand Prix 2016
Posted By: Alex Kalinauckas  |  08 Oct 2016   |  8:20 am GMT  |  121 comments

Nico Rosberg beat his Mercedes Formula 1 teammate Lewis Hamilton to pole position for the Japanese Grand Prix with a last gasp flying lap.

Under heavy grey skies at Suzuka, Hamilton was 0.195 in front of Rosberg after they had completed their first runs in Q3 ahead of the Ferrari and Red Bull drivers.

But on their second flying laps in the final part of qualifying, it was Rosberg who blitzed around the 5.8km track in a time of 1m30.647s to claim his eighth pole of 2016 – and the 30th of his F1 career – which left Hamilton 0.013s, or just 82cm over the length of the circuit, adrift.

Nico Rosberg

The German driver, who has topped every single session so far this weekend, started from pole for the Japanese race for the last two seasons but lost out to Hamilton on both occasions.

Speaking after the session, Rosberg said: “Of course [I’m] happy with the result in the end. I was going well the whole weekend, I had a good balance in the car [and] I feel good and comfortable. That’s what allows me to put in a lap like that in the end. [I’m] pleased with that.

“[Tomorrow is about] putting everything together. For sure the start is going to be an important one, definitely tomorrow, and we’ve seen this weekend that it’s not been too easy because its downhill and the grip has been a bit lower than usual.

“It’s going to be an interesting challenge, and from then on I just need to get the tyre life to be able to do long enough stints to get the strategy to work. So it’s [about] putting everything together.”

 Kimi Raikkonen

Kimi Raikkonen qualified third for Ferrari, one spot ahead of his teammate Sebastian Vettel, who will drop to seventh as a result of the three-place grid penalty he was given for causing the first corner clash with Rosberg at the start of the Malaysian Grand Prix last weekend.

Max Verstappen and Daniel Ricciardo ended the session in fifth and sixth for Red Bull, ahead of Force India’s Sergio Perez.

None of the front-runners have saved a set of new medium tyres for the race, as they lack stability. A two-stop strategy based on soft and hard tyres will be the optimum, which will allow the teams to react to potential safety cars and changes in weather and temperatures to make their choices of tyres and pit stop timings.

Romain Grosjean

Haas F1 got two cars into Q3 for the first time in the team’s history as Romain Grosjean qualified in eighth place – the best result of his season so far – with Esteban Gutierrez 10th behind the second Force India of Nico Hulkenberg.

Valtteri Bottas and Felipe Massa will start 11th and 12th for Williams as they were pushed out by late improvements from the Haas and Force India drivers at the end of Q2.

Daniil Kvyat ended up 13th for Toro Rosso, one spot ahead of his teammate Carlos Sainz, who went off at the Spoon Curve after running wide onto the kerbs and spinning into the run off area on his final lap.

Fernando Alonso

Fernando Alonso was 15th in the lead McLaren ahead of Renault’s Jolyon Palmer, one week on from the Malaysian Grand Prix where the Briton scored his first ever F1 point.

In Q1, Jenson Button failed to escape the first part of qualifying at Honda’s home track after a flurry of late improvements from other drivers pushed him into the bottom six.

Kevin Magnussen was 18th for Renault ahead of Sauber’s Marcus Ericsson and Felipe Nasr. Esteban Ocon beat Pascal Wehrlein, who was set to take a five-place grid penalty after changing to a new gearbox, to 21st, as the Manor drivers brought up the rear of the field.

Japanese Grand Prix Qualifying results:

1 Nico Rosberg, Mercedes 1m30.647s
2 Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes 1m30.660s +0.013s
3 Kimi Raikkonen, Ferrari 1m30.949s +0.302s
4 Sebastian Vettel, Ferrari 1m31.028s +0.381s
5 Max Verstappen, Red Bull 1m31.178s +0.531s
6 Daniel Ricciardo, Red Bull 1m31.240s +0.593s
7 Sergio Perez, Force India 1m31.961s +1.314s
8 Romain Grosjean, Haas 1m31.961s +1.314s
9 Nico Hulkenberg, Force India 1m32.142s +1.495s
10 Esteban Gutierrez, Haas 1m32.547s +1.900s


11 Valtteri Bottas, Williams 1m32.315s +1.668s
12 Felipe Massa, Williams 1m32.380s +1.733s
13 Daniil Kvyat, Toro Rosso 1m32.623s +1.976s
14 Carlos Sainz, Toro Rosso 1m32.685s +2.038s
15 Fernando Alonso, McLaren 1m32.689s +2.042s
16 Jolyon Palmer, Renault 1m32.807s +2.160s


17 Jenson Button, McLaren 1m32.851s +2.204s
18 Kevin Magnussen, Renault 1m33.023s +2.376s
19 Marcus Ericsson, Sauber 1m33.222s +2.575s
20 Felipe Nasr, Sauber 1m33.332s +2.685s
21 Esteban Ocon, Manor 1m33.353s +2.706s
22 Pascal Wehrlein, Manor 1m33.561s +2.914s

What did you make of qualifying for the Japanese Grand Prix? Leave your thoughts in the comment section below or head over to the JAonF1 Facebook page for more discussion.

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Nicos & Kimis qualifying laps. Quite a contrast to what we normally see. Maybe Nico pushing a little harder than he normally does- with the PU s down from their highest quali setting as Wolffe advised




Professional racing is A BUSINESS. The JOB of a racer is to score CONSTRUCTOR points for the TEAM. If Hamilton cannot play by these rules then he needs to quit.


 Mercedes has concentrated on making the WO7 car faster this year, but in so doing it has compromised Hamiltons braking advantages. This is never mentioned by journalist and commentators, whom are solely bent on selling us entertainment when there really isn’t any.
A true F1 fan would agree that this is probably the worst season since the MS era, even Vettel’s RB dominance was entertaining because Alonso, Hamilton, Button,Weber were also in the mix, bar the last 9 races of 2013.
The point I want to make is, the way the Mercedes W07 is currently configured does not allow Hamilton the full advantage of his ability to brake later and harder than Rosberg,  It means his front tyre doesn’t load up as quickly into a corner and locks more readily as he’s tried to brake where he felt he naturally could. Knowingly or unknowingly, the current development direction at Mercedes this year has favoured Rosberg.



Strangely, there was no question’s from the floor in todays post qualifying press conference . was there a boycott or something of that sort ?


No I think it was pretty self explanatory!

Was a bit odd though


kimi did an amazing lap…anyone who thinks he’s past it…should have a rethink! now he has the car that he likes and he’s showing the results just like in his lotus days..I hope ferrari makes a good car next season…I hope he can get a good start tomorrow get between the mercs and ferrari give him a strategy to snatch a win against the racy mercs…its high time now..that kimi get a win in his f1 return with ferrari


My guess is Rosberg will lose it all tomorrow, probably from the start – and his championship challenge will crumble. Anyone agree?


Hell of the start of KR. I have to say the first sector of his fastest lap was on the edge. Sharp and fast!!! Old school track and KR 🙂


The Red Bulls have the Renault motor and aren’t doing poorly. Renault have the same(?) motor and… . The aerodynamics of the Red Bull must be amazing, maybe illegal(?).

I keep reading about who deserves to win. Deserves has nothing to do with it and often it hasn’t. Who wins is what matters. Many drivers’ championships were won by the ‘not-best-driver.’ Only two drivers can win the WDC. Maybe 3 or 4 other drivers behind these two are better than both but without a hope in hell. Where’s the deserve there?

Lewis and bad luck: Is it all a matter of luck? Does his style abuse the motor more? Does he turn up the ‘volume’ more often? Can the driver control that? Even Horner hinted at it last week.

Gros Jean seems to have all the brake problems at Hass. Is it luck or is it how he drives? Probably amazing bad luck.


I guess McHonda aren’t going to be there in Japan. Not good.
Verstappen, after being as gracious as he has ever been, racing Ric, is somehow up in quali, Ric doesn’t understand the deficit.
Hamilton loses out to Rosberg, is seems weird.
The entire enterprise is illusion, created to maximize return on investment.
Even Kimi beating Vettel is a little suspicious, after the Arrivabene comments this week (but then again, this result is on trend).
I’m a little surprised by the McHonda poor showing.

Rain could change the complexion of the race, in which scenario, RB has the slight advantage over Merc, and Ferrari are well back.

I’m hoping for a quick No. 7 getaway, past bogged-down Mercs, and mass confusion (and contusion) behind him amongst the RBs and Mercs.
(never be afraid to dream).


I just watched Nicos pole lap and in was not a very a clean lap – he really had to work for it. Car was sliding like crazy and understeering just like many others.

Could be an interesting race with Mercedes struggling to manage the softs in the opening laps. I hope Kimi and the Bulls can attack them off the line.


Fantastic drive by the world champion elect. Nico dominated all 3 FP and all 3 Quali sessions never finishing behind Hamilton. This guy is class and in a league of his own. Go Nico. The title is waiting for you.


And yet he is in pole. If your believed Hamilton was on pole it would be something like “magnificent lap by Lewis. Flawless lap to dominate qualifying”


@David – dont get your knickers in a twist, Nico did a great job because he worked so hard for it , I was just saying its messy – unlike his best ever quali lap in singapore -Hamilton is not my “beloved” especially after his latest antics but hes still the fastest racer in F1 and were it not for his mech provs this year it would already be title no4 ,


I swear I can’t understand Mclaren. They go around talking about having the 3rd best chassis and the 4th best package. Are you kidding me? Even Renault were faster today. That’s with their new parts and engine. Absolutely pathetic. And how can they have the 3rd best chassis if toro rosso can out qualify them on several tracks with a year old Ferrari engine?


Last race I thought Alonso’s performance reflected that MCLAren improved. This race they are again back in bottom rung. Why such a big change? Strange.


Welk, this could be entertaining. I’m hoping to see Kimi drive as brilliant as ever at Suzuka. I’m going to take a wild guess and say that he wins tomorrow, as Lewis and Nico are going to crash.

Not too worried about Max on p4. To quote Niki Lauda last month: “He’s the best driver out there. Nobody is as quick as him. He’s perfect.”


Nico getting the job done. However the start will be where it’s won unless the rain comes. The start is normally quite chaotic at Suzuka with the corners tightening up sharply and with MV in 4th the chances of contact are high. Hopefully he keeps himself in line.

Raikkonen continues to impress, maybe he should lead the team in 2017.


Are you trying to provoke the Vettelista’s?

Kimi is liking the car, that much is clear. Not sure if that’s the fastest that car can go.


If Nico can win tomorrow the title is his..but will he bottle it under pressure?..it he would win tomorrow,the last 4 races will be great to watch..if Lewis gets ahead at the start,see Nico turning in on him.. if it’s wet,Nico will be lucky to finish 3rd..


Maybe not. Rossberg could get a DNF. One DNF is the difference now. Mercedes looks to use a lot of oil to me.


I might go further and say that if Hamilton DOESN’T win then the WDC is Rosberg’s.

That would be a travesty of course.


Anthony Davidson SkyF1.
“Wow I’ve never seen anything like that before 82 cm there was nothing in it . Matching corner for corner Both deserved pole.Unbelievable “.
Come on Hammer🔨 time 💪 .
Mercedes must be pensive as they want the constructors championship too.


European Grand Prix 1997 qualifying
1st: 1.21.072
2nd: 1.21.072
3rd: 1.21.072
The same race the WDC leader went too fast in a curve and was lucky that someone drove in his car and lost several places.
And not if that wouldn’t be enough – in 2014 it was revealed that two british teams had a secret alliance to fight an italian team with all means, legal and illegal.
1997 in Jerez


2000, Schumaher and the Mika. 9 inches was the difference.


Davidson …Lewis Lewis Lewis Lewis. Rosburg Rosburg Rosburg Rosburg. Why is he and the British Jornos so biased. At least call them both first or last names. We are not all British guys. Have some respect.


Got to agree with you mate. Even some brits find sky f1 quite revulsive


David, are you complaining that most of the noise seems to be about the two WDC front-runners with five races left to go and less than a win separating them?

Curse those British journos! Why aren’t they discussing what Ocon has for breakfast???


Davidson says he will, but only if you learn how to spell Rosberg. Show some respect! 😃


Who is Robert?


Robert Rosburg of course.



Seriously though, who puts F1 quali and Bathurst 1000 top ten shootout on at the same time?


After that qualy the first thing I thought was that James might have to step over a dummy or two. Well it looks like I was correct. James work load just got a little lighter.


Wow McLaren Honda. 2017 podiums? Maybe in my V10 dreams?


Yeah. Interesting that most people expect Mclaren to be ahead of Ferrari as 3rd best team next year. I wonder the design documents of all teams have been leaked ?


That’s a good one.

You know 2017 is a 10th year anniversary of 100M fine against McLaren. 🙂


London Accent….
“Go on My Son You Can Do It Lewis!!!!”
Safe GP for all drivers and Bianchi R.I.P.
Ps Rosberg no shunting drivers off the circuit on the first turn!


BK Flamer,
Why not? Lewis does it.


Tomorrows discussion after the race would be around how many moves VES made getting to the first corner.

Furthermore @putte, HAM was faster last weekend and 16 laps to go his engine blew. Maybe it is time for Nicos engine to blow up spectacularly this time around. Anyway, it is too early to call it since the fat lady hasn’t even started singing 😉 On this subject, I hope she sings in the rain tomorrow.

Again, good luck to all tomorrow and hope that we see another great race at Suzuka.


Good luck to all but Nico of course as l read your post. Marc

Devils Advocate

Can’t hide it @Cometef1. Not much of a Nico fan since the day he threw the cap at Hamilton. Still think he is not champion material and the only reason he wins now is because of the car that HAM developed with his engineers, then was handed it to Nico with almost the whole Victorious Garage. I might add that this is from someone that thought Nico was a great person in the past and have even taken a picture with him in front of his garage at the Circuit in Bahrain when he was still with Williams


Some sublime perfomances today, particularly from the Haas driver’s, very impressive. A quietly good quali for Ferrari too, but a shame Vettel will drop 3 places. Nico, very worthy polesitter, mega lap.


Mercedes boys expect contact.
Hamilton to get past Rosberg by 2 laps. If it’s wet then Lewis for victory as Robert hates rain.
I really could both Mercedes end up in the gravel ?
Kimi vs Max oh dear ! Expect contact.
Ricciardo vs Max and Vettel ! Expect mega contact.
Perez vs Vettel ! Definitely expect contact.
Expect Carnage Start .
Kick Ass Lewis get past the Monaco Germ’an .


Do you need help with writing?


Wanna be american carribean british monaco lewis


Funny. Marc


So close. Good one that was. The start is going to be very interesting and hopefully nobody ends up in tears. I am still hoping for mix conditions during the race to spice it up even more. Should Nico wins that one, it will start to look like the WDC is in the bag, but lets not get ahead of ourselves. It is a long race and anything can happen. Marc


👍Best of British Lewis👍


Another zzZzZz race expected tomorrow if it is not raining.


maybe not


I wonder what it takes for you to get excited about a race? Things look up for grab if you ask me. Marc


Don’t watch then …

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