Nico Rosberg on pole at Suzuka as Daniil Kvyat's huge crash ends qualifying early
Nico Rosberg claimed pole position for the Japanese Grand Prix after Red Bull’s Daniil Kvyat suffered a massive crash that destroyed his Formula ...
Nico Rosberg claimed pole position for the Japanese Grand Prix after Red Bull’s Daniil Kvyat suffered a massive crash that destroyed his Formula 1 car and ended qualifying prematurely.
Rosberg was on provisional pole by just 0.076s over his Mercedes teammate Lewis Hamilton, following the first runs in Q3. Hamilton had locked up at the Hairpin and missed the apex of the corner on his initial lap, which cost him time.
As the Q3 runners began their final laps, Kvyat, who was the lead driver on the track, put his left side wheels onto the grass at the right-hand kink on the approach to the Hairpin and the rear of the car snapped away from him.
When the Russian attempted a rapid correction, his car veered off to the left into the gravel trap and he slammed into the barriers at high speed. The car rolled over and briefly dug into the gravel as both left side wheels where ripped off and the rear end was heavily damaged. Kvyat quickly reported he was ok over the radio and climbed gingerly from the wreckage.
The session was immediately red flagged in the aftermath of the crash and with just 30 seconds left on the clock, nobody was able to set another time, which meant Rosberg claimed his second pole position of the season and his first since the Spanish Grand Prix.
Speaking after the session, Rosberg said: “I’m very happy, it’s a great day and also a good comeback for the team, especially after such a difficult weekend in Singapore, to be back to our usual strength today.
“[We] really turned things around and optimised everything for this track, and I pretty much nailed my laps today [so] I’m really pleased with the way it went and it’s a good position to be in for tomorrow.”
Hamilton said: “On the first lap I lost a bit of time at Turn 11 and at the last corner. Nico is driving really well this weekend, but I definitely felt really good on the last lap and I’m glad Kvyat is safe.”
Valtteri Bottas will start third for Williams ahead of Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel. The German driver, who won last time out in Singapore, was over 0.6s adrift of the Mercedes drivers at track where no driver has ever won from the second row of the grid.
Kimi Raikkonen was sixth in the second Ferrari, ahead of Daniel Ricciardo and Romain Grosjean. Sergio Perez will start ninth for Force India and Kvyat ended the day in 10th place, but such was the level of damage to the rear of his car, a new gearbox may need to be fitted and he would take a grid penalty as a result.
Nico Hulkenberg qualified in 11th, for the fourth time in the last five races, but will drop three places on the grid as a consequence of his crash with Massa in Singapore. Carlos Sainz, who saved a huge slide at the first Degner corner in Q1, was 12th, in front of the second Lotus of Pastor Maldonado.
Fernando Alonso, who had made it through Q1 for McLaren was only 14th fastest after staying in the garage for much of the second segment of qualifying. As he crossed the finish line, the Spaniard told his team he “cannot do much more than this.”
In the last moments of Q1, Max Verstappen stopped his Toro Rosso at the Hairpin and could not get going again. Verstappen’s stricken car brought out the yellow flags, which meant the drivers behind him on the track were forced to slow. Stewards hit the Dutchman with a three place grid drop for leaving his car on the racing line, when he could have avoided it.
That caught out Jenson Button and Marcus Ericsson, who will start in 16th and 17th. Ericsson also spun earlier on in Q1 at the Spoon turn, but was able to keep his car out of the barriers.
Felipe Nasr could only manage 18th in the second Sauber, ahead of the Manor pair of Will Stevens and Alexander Rossi, who didn’t set a representative laptime in the session.
Tomorrow's race is a real voyage into the unknown. High mandatory tyre pressures from Pirelli and a washed out Free Practice Friday mean teams have little knowledge of tyre performance on long runs. Two or three stops could be the right strategy as tyres will slide and overheat on a green track with high tyre pressures.
With conservative camber restrictions too, braking stability will be challenged.
1 Nico Rosberg Mercedes 1m32.584s
2 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes +0.076s
3 Valtteri Bottas Williams +0.440s
4 Sebastian Vettel Ferrari +0.661s
5 Felipe Massa Williams +0.753s
6 Kimi Raikkonen Ferrari +0.763s
7 Daniel Ricciardo Red Bull +0.913s
8 Romain Grosjean Lotus +1.383s
9 Sergio Perez Force India No Q3 time
10 Daniil Kvyat Red Bull No Q3 time
11 Nico Hulkenberg Force India +1.806s *has grid penalty
12 Carlos Sainz Toro Rosso +1.869s
13 Pastor Maldonado Lotus +1.913s
14 Fernando Alonso McLaren +2.201s
15 Max Verstappen Toro Rosso No Q2 time
16 Jenson Button McLaren +3.080s
17 Marcus Ericsson Sauber +3.089s
18 Felipe Nasr Sauber +3.176s
19 Will Stevens Marussia +6.199s20 Alexander Rossi Marussia +14.530s
Button frustrated by McLaren mistake
Vettel hopes to turn things around at the start