Hamilton happy to be close to Rosberg in Japanese GP qualifying

Lewis Hamilton declared himself "happy" despite being beaten to pole position for the Japanese Grand Prix by Mercedes team-mate Nico Rosberg after staging a late recovery with set up

Hamilton happy to be close to Rosberg in Japanese GP qualifying

Hamilton missed out on pole by just 13 thousandths of a second - the equivalent of 83 centimeres around the 5.807km circuit - with Rosberg taking top spot on the grid at this track for the third successive year.

The reigning triple world champion, however, has conceded he only got that close following numerous late changes to his car.

"I'm happy with qualifying," said Hamilton.

"It's been a weekend of a lot of work, getting the car set up right, and big changes made for qualifying.

"To get that close I'm very happy. I did as well as I could, and obviously if you have more laps you can find more time.

"We kind of veered off on a different tangent in terms of set up this weekend and it wasn't until qualifying I got it back.

"It's not easy going into qualifying with a completely different car, so that's why I'm relatively happy considering what I did.

"We're in a good position for tomorrow."

Despite Rosberg's poles in 2014 and '15, Hamilton has gone on to take the chequered flag both times, offering up hope of another win as he attempts to close the 23-point gap to the German at the top of the drivers' standings.

"History has shown I don't have to be on pole to get the win," said Hamilton.

Hamilton had the edge after the first run in Q3, but it was Rosberg on top come the finish, however he knows the opening seconds of the race will prove crucial, particularly after being beaten off the line a year ago.

"The start is going to be an important one," said Rosberg.

"We've seen this weekend it's not too easy, downhill grip has been lower than usual."

"It's been going well the whole weekend, I've had a good balance with the car, I'm feeling good, feeling comfortable and that is what allowed me to put in a lap like that in the end.

"It was just a good lap, I just got it all done properly, and that's it. I knew that I could do a good lap.

"The first one in Q3 wasn't perfect. I'm not sure why, I felt a bit less grip somehow.

"I don't really have an explanation, so after that I just had to get my head down and nail it."

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