Hamilton secures Japanese GP pole

Lewis Hamilton took a crucial pole position for the Japanese Grand Prix, with his title rival Felipe Massa down in fifth place

Hamilton secures Japanese GP pole

In dry and sunny conditions very different to last year's qualifying downpour, Hamilton dug deep to beat a resurgent Kimi Raikkonen (Ferrari) to pole position, with Heikki Kovalainen and Fernando Alonso filling row two ahead of Massa.

Raikkonen had been fastest after the first Q3 runs, with Massa provisionally completing an all-Ferrari front row and Hamilton only third at that stage.

The reigning world champion then improved further on his flying lap, raising the benchmark to a 1:18.644.

But Hamilton responded in style and beat Raikkonen to pole by 0.2 seconds.

With the points leader's McLaren teammate Kovalainen and Singapore winner Alonso (Renault) leaping to the second row on their own last laps, Massa was pushed back to fifth place - potentially disastrous for his title aspirations.

Robert Kubica took sixth on the grid, but the Pole's teammate Nick Heidfeld had another extremely disappointing qualifying session, and will start from 16th - his worst grid position of the season. Neither BMW was especially competitive in Q1, with Kubica only 14th, but Heidfeld was a crucial 0.151 seconds slower and was eliminated.

Toyota filled row four at their home circuit, with Timo Glock only eighth behind his teammate Jarno Trulli despite going fastest of all in Q1.

The Toro Rossos completed the top ten, Sebastian Vettel beating teammate Sebastien Bourdais to ninth by half a second.

David Coulthard out-qualified his Red Bull Racing teammate Mark Webber for only the second time this season as they took 11th and 13th, 0.167 seconds apart and split by Nelson Piquet's Renault.

Sole home driver Kazuki Nakajima couldn't better 14th place in qualifying, but did have the consolation of out-pacing his Williams teammate Nico Rosberg, who was 0.078 seconds slower and one place behind.

The two Hondas and the two Force Indias fill the final two rows. Rubens Barrichello and Jenson Button both looked like they had a chance to make the Q2 cut before others improved and pushed them down the order, and they then failed to improve on their last Q1 laps.

Adrian Sutil was unable to build on his strong practice form and was only 19th, but did out-qualify his Force India teammate Giancarlo Fisichella by a comfortable 0.8 seconds.

Pos Driver Team Q1 Q2 Q3  1. Hamilton McLaren-Mercedes (B) 1:18.071 1:17.462 1:18.404 2. Raikkonen Ferrari (B) 1:18.160 1:17.733 1:18.644 3. Kovalainen McLaren-Mercedes (B) 1:18.220 1:17.360 1:18.821 4. Alonso Renault (B) 1:18.290 1:17.871 1:18.852 5. Massa Ferrari (B) 1:18.110 1:17.287 1:18.874 6. Kubica BMW Sauber (B) 1:18.684 1:17.931 1:18.979 7. Trulli Toyota (B) 1:18.501 1:17.541 1:19.026 8. Glock Toyota (B) 1:17.945 1:17.670 1:19.118 9. Vettel Toro Rosso-Ferrari (B) 1:18.559 1:17.714 1:19.638 10. Bourdais Toro Rosso-Ferrari (B) 1:18.593 1:18.102 1:20.167 11. Coulthard Red Bull-Renault (B) 1:18.303 1:18.187 12. Piquet Renault (B) 1:18.300 1:18.274 13. Webber Red Bull-Renault (B) 1:18.372 1:18.354 14. Nakajima Williams-Toyota (B) 1:18.640 1:18.594 15. Rosberg Williams-Toyota (B) 1:18.740 1:18.672 16. Heidfeld BMW Sauber (B) 1:18.835 17. Barrichello Honda (B) 1:18.882 18. Button Honda (B) 1:19.100 19. Sutil Force India-Ferrari (B) 1:19.163 20. Fisichella Force India-Ferrari (B) 1:19.910 

shares
comments
Berger urges cost cut agreement

Previous article

Berger urges cost cut agreement

Next article

Hamilton delighted to beat the Ferraris

Hamilton delighted to beat the Ferraris
Load comments
The F1 champion who became an Indy king in his second career Plus

The F1 champion who became an Indy king in his second career

Emerson Fittipaldi’s decision to go racing with his brother led to him falling out of F1, but he bloomed again on the IndyCar scene. NIGEL ROEBUCK considers a career of two halves

Why Mercedes is pleased to be in the Hungary hunt at a 'Red Bull track' Plus

Why Mercedes is pleased to be in the Hungary hunt at a 'Red Bull track'

Mercedes ended Friday practice at the Hungaroring with a clear gap to Red Bull thanks to Valtteri Bottas’s pace in topping FP2. But there are other reasons why the Black Arrows squad feels satisfied with its progress so far at a track many Formula 1 observers reckon favours Red Bull overall

How Red Bull endured its second car crash in two weeks Plus

How Red Bull endured its second car crash in two weeks

OPINION: Red Bull was justified to be upset that Lewis Hamilton survived his British GP clash with Max Verstappen and went on to win. But its attempts to lobby the FIA to reconsider the severity of Hamilton's in-race penalty were always likely to backfire, and have only succeeded in creating a PR disaster that will distract from its on-track efforts

The ‘screaming’ F1 engine future that may not be out of reach Plus

The ‘screaming’ F1 engine future that may not be out of reach

OPINION: It wasn't just the Verstappen/Hamilton clash that had the Red Bull and Mercedes bosses at loggerheads at Silverstone, with the nature of Formula 1's 2025 engines also subject for disagreement. But hopes to have loud, emotive engines that are also environmentally friendly don't have to be opposed

Formula 1
Jul 29, 2021
The drivers that need to strike gold before F1's summer break Plus

The drivers that need to strike gold before F1's summer break

OPINION: Formula 1 is about to break up for summer 2021, with the title battles finely poised. But it’s not just the latest round of Max Verstappen vs Lewis Hamilton that will be worth watching this weekend in Hungary, as plenty of drivers are eying big results to change the stories of their seasons so far

Formula 1
Jul 28, 2021
How Lotus F1 uncovered, then squandered its last ‘unfair advantage’ Plus

How Lotus F1 uncovered, then squandered its last ‘unfair advantage’

Cast in the mould of its founder Colin Chapman, Lotus was powerful and daring but 
flawed – as it proved through further soaring peaks and painful troughs into the 1980s. DAMIEN SMITH examines a game-changing era

Formula 1
Jul 27, 2021
The core problems Yas Marina’s long-awaited tweaks won't address Plus

The core problems Yas Marina’s long-awaited tweaks won't address

OPINION: Changes to the layout of Abu Dhabi’s circuit aim to reverse the trend of insipid Formula 1 races there - the promoter has even described one of the new corners as “iconic”. And that, argues STUART CODLING, is one of this venue’s abiding failings

Formula 1
Jul 26, 2021
How Ferrari offered Britain's next F1 prospect what Red Bull couldn't Plus

How Ferrari offered Britain's next F1 prospect what Red Bull couldn't

Last year's Formula 2 runner-up Callum Ilott could be on his way to becoming the first Briton to contest a grand prix in an Alfa Romeo since Reg Parnell in 1950. But, says OLEG KARPOV, the Ferrari Driver Academy protege is having to temper his ambition at the moment – outwardly at least…

Formula 1
Jul 25, 2021