Nico Rosberg took his 30th career pole position and his 3rd in a row at the Suzuka Circuit. His Mercedes teammate Lewis Hamilton was second at only 0.013 seconds.
I’ve been feeling great all weekend, incredibly comfortable in the car. It gave me the confidence to push even harder at the end of Q3. I pulled out a great lap to recover pole from Lewis. Suzuka is a really difficult circuit because of the varying corners which means it’s even more difficult to get the car set up just right. It’s great to start from P1. But as we’ve realised, it’s not the most important thing this year. You also need to get the start and the race strategy spot on. Lewis will push hard and so will the Ferraris and the Red Bulls. It’s clear that both these teams looked very strong on the high fuel. It will be an exciting race tomorrow, in front of Suzuka’s amazing fans.
This weekend has not been that easy. I’d been veering one way with the setup of the car and then had to shuffle back going into qualifying. It felt like I was in no-mans-land as we approached Q1. With that in mind, I’m extremely happy that I was able to bring it back to that kind of gap. Of course, starting on pole is always a good thing. But let’s hope the work we’ve been doing on the starts pays off. It’s also still hard to know at this stage what the weather is going to do. I’ll do the best I can tomorrow.
Kimi Raikkonen and Sebastian Vettel of Ferrari took third and fourth position. Vettel has a penalty from Malaysia.
“It’s pretty much the same car we raced a week ago and I don’t think many people had a lot of difference, but I was very positively surprised with how the car’s been behaving and how quick it’s been. Obviously it’s been a bit tricky to get the right balance, but it’s been pretty good. So far so good, obviously third is not exactly what we’re looking for but I think we’re very close and it was not too bad.”
“With such a lap behind him, Raikkonen says that while he was happy with how the car was behaving he was left wanting more.”
“You always feel you can get it perfect and go faster but it is not often you can say it is perfect. It has been pretty OK the last few races. We suffered a bit of understeer here and we are trying to get rid of it because it hurts a lot in the first sector like here with the fast corners.”
“In qualifying [we were] just too slow and missing out a little bit in the first sector but we got there in the end and ended up faster. So it’s the very small details that have to come together and we more or less put them all together and it was quite good.”
The Red Bull drivers were 5th – Max Verstappen and 6th – Daniel Ricciardo in qualifying. They will start from fourth and fifth because of Vettel’s penalty.
“To be honest I was hoping for a bit more from qualifying. We knew it was going to be close with Ferrari and we were hoping to get in front of them but they had good pace. It’s a little frustrating as we were losing time down the straights and we need to find out why. I felt like I was doing all I could and I think the lap itself was okay. In the second last lap, I think I found a little bit more in Sector 1 but I felt like it hurt the tyres in the last part of the lap. I’m happy with our long run race pace and should have similar pace to Ferrari, we expect them to be our real rivals in the race. We also expect Mercedes to be conservative and turn down their power in the race, so we’ll see what happens. We’ll gain a position through Sebastian’s penalty, starting P5 is better than P6 and hopefully we have a good battle on our hands.”
— Formula 1 (@F1) 8 October 2016