Mercedes returns to dominance in Qualifying at Suzuka: Rosberg P1, Hamilton P2 & Bottas P3 — Kvyat suffers massive shunt in Q3
In Japan, Mercedes power was back on track at high speed Suzuka as expected after their subpar performance last week at the slow, narrow confines of Singapore’s Marina Bay street circuit. Not only did the Silver Arrows take first & second in Saturday Qualifying but the Mercedes-powered Williams of Valtteri Bottas grabbed 3rd spot on the grid and his teammate Felipe Massa was able to come home P5. However, it wasn’t Championship leader Lewis Hamilton who took pole for Sunday’s race but rather his desperate teammate, Nico Rosberg. With the races dwindling and his opportunity to catch Hamilton slipping away, the German contender and closest pursuer beat out the Englishman for the fastest time by less than .08 seconds.
Q3 was brought to a premature end when Red Bull driver Daniil Kvyat suffered a lurid, barrel roll shunt late in that final qualifying session after clipping the grass at the hairpin and losing control. Despite the frightening looking crash, the 21-year-old Russian exited his destroyed RB11 chassis under his own power. Assuming the team can put a car together for him by tomorrow’s race, Kvyat will now have to start from the pit lane. His Red Bull teammate Daniel Ricciardo had a drama-free session but after his great run in Singapore where the Aussie ace finished second overall Ricciardo could only coax his underpowered Renault-engined car up to P7 on the grid.
Ferrari care back to earth after last week’s delirious double-podium result, with Singapore winner Sebastian Vettel able to split the Williams for a P4 start but Kimi Raikkonen only good enough for the 6th fastest time after finishing 3rd last race. Team Lotus’ talented Frenchman Romain Grosjean, who is rumored to be heading to the Haas F1 team next year for their maiden season, was P8. Rounding out the top 10, Sergio Perez continued his hot second half for Force India with a solid P9.
Top 10 Qualifiers for the Japanese Grand Prix:
|7||3||DANIEL RICCIARDO||RED BULL RACING||1:34.399||1:34.153||1:33.497||17|
|9||11||SERGIO PEREZ||FORCE INDIA||1:35.001||1:34.174||16|
|10||26||DANIIL KVYAT||RED BULL RACING||1:34.646||1:34.201||15|
Tomorrow’s race from the Land of the Rising Sun airs live in the States at 1 AM Eastern on NBC Sports Network. With only 5 races to go after Japan, a win by Hamilton would give him a stranglehold on the Championship. But he’ll have to overtake his hard caring teammate Rosberg to make that happen. Hope to see you then as the drama unfolds from Suzuka!