Nico Rosberg beats Lewis Hamilton to Japanese GP F1 pole by 0.013s

Nico Rosberg won a thrilling battle with Mercedes Formula 1 team-mate and title rival Lewis Hamilton to claim pole position for the Japanese Grand Prix

Nico Rosberg beats Lewis Hamilton to Japanese GP F1 pole by 0.013s

Rosberg was fastest in every practice session, and topped the field again in qualifying at Suzuka, but only after a late rally against a Hamilton charge.

Hamilton trailed his team-mate in Q1 and Q2, but snuck ahead after the first runs in Q3.

Rosberg leapt back to the top of the times with a 1m30.647s best on his final lap, as Hamilton fell just 0.013s short of taking pole despite an improvement of his own at the end.

Kimi Raikkonen produced a strong lap to qualify third fastest for Ferrari, the only other driver to make it below 1m31s.

Team-mate Sebastian Vettel was less than a tenth slower in fourth, but he faces a three-place drop on the grid thanks to his penalty for hitting Nico Rosberg at the first corner of last Sunday's Malaysian GP.

Max Verstappen beat Red Bull team-mate Daniel Ricciardo to the fifth fastest time, also by less than a tenth of a second.

Haas got both cars through to Q3 for the first time, and was best of the rest behind the top six cars in Q2.

Romain Grosjean set an identical time to Force India's Sergio Perez in Q3, but ended up eighth fastest, just ahead of the second Force India of Nico Hulkenberg.

Grosjean's Haas team-mate Esteban Gutierrez was seventh fastest in Q2, but ended up cut adrift at the bottom of the top 10 in Q3, over half a second slower than Grosjean.

Williams pairing Valtteri Bottas and Felipe Massa made only one run each in Q2, and were just edged out of the top 10 by the Force Indias.

Bottas missed the cut by less than a tenth, while Massa was only 0.165s further back in 12th.

Daniil Kvyat felt he did the best he could to put his Toro Rosso 13th on the grid, fractionally faster than team-mate Carlos Sainz Jr, who spun at Spoon Curve on his second run in Q2.

Fernando Alonso's McLaren-Honda was only 0.004s slower than Sainz in 15th, 0.118s ahead of the leading Renault of Jolyon Palmer.

Jenson Button failed to escape Q1 at Honda's home circuit, ending up just 0.032s shy of beating McLaren team-mate Alonso to the draw.

Kevin Magnussen was 18th fastest in the second Renault, ahead of Sauber pairing Marcus Ericsson and Felipe Nasr and the two Manors.

Ericsson was slowest of all after the first runs in Q1, but ended up just over a tenth ahead of his team-mate after a puzzled Nasr failed to go faster on his second run.

Esteban Ocon out-qualified Manor team-mate Pascal Wehrlein for the second race in a row, this time by more than two tenths of a second, feeling he couldn't have got much more out of his car.

The fact Wehrlein qualified last renders his five-place grid penalty for an illegal gearbox change potentially irrelevant.

JAPANESE GP GRID

Pos Driver Car Time Gap
1 Nico Rosberg Mercedes 1m30.647s -
2 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes 1m30.660s 0.013s
3 Max Verstappen Red Bull/Renault 1m31.178s 0.531s
4 Daniel Ricciardo Red Bull/Renault 1m31.240s 0.593s
5 Sergio Perez Force India/Mercedes 1m31.961s 1.314s
6 Sebastian Vettel Ferrari 1m31.028s 0.381s
7 Romain Grosjean Haas/Ferrari 1m31.961s 1.314s
8 Kimi Raikkonen Ferrari 1m30.949s 0.302s
9 Nico Hulkenberg Force India/Mercedes 1m32.142s 1.495s
10 Esteban Gutierrez Haas/Ferrari 1m32.547s 1.900s
11 Valtteri Bottas Williams/Mercedes 1m32.315s 1.668s
12 Felipe Massa Williams/Mercedes 1m32.380s 1.733s
13 Daniil Kvyat Toro Rosso/Ferrari 1m32.623s 1.976s
14 Carlos Sainz Jr. Toro Rosso/Ferrari 1m32.685s 2.038s
15 Fernando Alonso McLaren/Honda 1m32.689s 2.042s
16 Jolyon Palmer Renault 1m32.807s 2.160s
17 Kevin Magnussen Renault 1m33.023s 2.376s
18 Marcus Ericsson Sauber/Ferrari 1m33.222s 2.575s
19 Felipe Nasr Sauber/Ferrari 1m33.332s 2.685s
20 Esteban Ocon Manor/Mercedes 1m33.353s 2.706s
21 Pascal Wehrlein Manor/Mercedes 1m33.561s 2.914s
22 Jenson Button McLaren/Honda 1m32.851s 2.204s


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