Mercedes has locked out the front row once again.
Mercedes’ driver, Nico Rosberg topped the timesheets today as he secured pole position ahead of the FIA Formula One 2014 Japanese Grand Prix tomorrow. The German driver has now achieved his eighth pole position of the season to date and it is the 12th of his career. Rosberg’s result at the end of Q3 also means that he has ended the Red Bull team’s five year dominance in terms of grabbing pole positions at the Suzuka circuit.
Hamilton fails to keep up
Rosberg’s team mate, Lewis Hamilton had to settle for second place as Q3 came to a close. The 2008 World Champion’s qualifying result, means that the Mercedes team will lock out the front row of the grid for tomorrow. Prior to qualifying, Hamilton crashed during the third and final practice session, but the team managed to repair the car in order for him to get back on track.
Bottas takes P3
Williams’ driver, Valtteri Bottas was the closest threat to the Mercedes duo in Q3 and he finished the session in third place to complete the top three.
Bottas will be accompanied on the second row of the grid by his team mate, Felipe Massa who qualified in fourth place.
Alonso rounds out top five
Ferrari’s Fernando Alonso completed Q3 in fifth place ahead of the action on the track tomorrow and he pipped his team mate, Kimi Raikkonen in the process. Raikkonen will begin the race a few places further down the grid as he claimed 10th place in qualifying.
Red Bull duo
Red Bull’s Daniel Ricciardo will line up alongside Alonso on the grid for tomorrow. The Australian driver qualified in sixth place and he also beat his team mate, Sebastian Vettel in Q3. Vettel could only do enough for ninth place on the grid.
The reigning World Champion was in the limelight prior to qualifying, as he and the team confirmed that he will be parting company with them at the end of the season. There is speculation that Vettel will join Ferrari next year and take Alonso’s seat, as the Spaniard is set to leave the team but it is still be confirmed. Red Bull have announced that Toro Rosso’s Daniil Kvyat will be promoted from the sister team and he will join Ricciardo next season.
McLaren gets both drivers in Q3
The current Red Bull duo of Ricciardo and Vettel will have the McLaren pair sandwiched between them as the race gets underway tomorrow. Kevin Magnussen qualified in front of his team mate, Jenson Button to take seventh place from the 2009 World Champion, who will line up in eighth place alongside the Danish driver.
It has been reported that Alonso is rumoured to be returning to McLaren next season, but Button and Magnussen’s future at the team is still be confirmed.
Outside the top ten
Beyond the top 10 ahead of tomorrow’s race start, the rest of the field fought over 11th to 22nd place during Q1 and Q2.
There will be a shuffle in positions towards the back of the pack though, as Lotus Renault’s Pastor Maldonado has been issued with a 10 place grid penalty for an engine change and going over the allowance in the season.
The Venezuelan driver will reportedly serve part of the penalty for this weekend’s race and into the Russian Grand Prix, as he qualified in 17th place and he therefore cannot serve the whole penalty at once.
Super Typhoon Phanfone looms
When the race gets the green light tomorrow, Rosberg will be leading from the front for the first time at the Suzuka circuit, but it remains to be seen whether he will still be in first place as he crosses the finish line at the end of the race. The Championship battle between Rosberg and Hamilton is still very much in force as the season is edging closer to the end.
The Mercedes duo will not only have each other to consider on the track, but also their other closest Championship rivals and the threat of a typhoon heading towards Japan. It has been reported that the threat of the typhoon is reducing, but heavy rain has been predicted during the action on the track tomorrow.
All three sessions went incident free. You can see the full qualifying results HERE.