Saturday’s qualifying session at Suzuka finished in dramatic fashion after Daniil Kvyat crashed his Red Bull at the end of Q3, leaving Mercedes’ Nico Rosberg on pole, less than a tenth of a second up on team mate Lewis Hamilton.
Williams were the Silver Arrows’ biggest rivals, with Valtteri Bottas third and Felipe Massa fifth, split by the Ferrari of Sebastian Vettel, whose team mate Kimi Raikkonen was sixth. Daniel Ricciardo was seventh for Red Bull, ahead of Lotus’s Romain Grosjean and Force India’s Sergio Perez.
Kvyat ended up tenth after walking away from the wreckage of his heavily-damaged RB12. The Russian put a wheel on the grass on the run up to the hairpin and lost control before hitting the barriers and barrel rolling to a stop.
Max Verstappen progressed into Q2, but was unable to participate, having stopped his Toro Rosso with a loss of power at the hairpin at the end of Q1.
The Dutchman thus dropped out in the second phase, along with Force India’s Nico Hulkenberg – carrying a three-place grid drop for his collision with Massa in Singapore, Carlos Sainz in the sister Toro Rosso, Lotus’s Pastor Maldonado and McLaren’s Fernando Alonso.
Verstappen’s drama prevented several drivers improving on their final Q1 runs and eliminated in the opening phase were McLaren’s Jenson Button, Sauber’s Marcus Ericsson – who survived a spin at Spoon early in the session, team mate Felipe Nasr, and the Marussias of Will Stevens and Alexander Rossi.
|Japanese Grand Prix Qualifying Results|
|12||55||Carlos Sainz Jr||1:34.873||1:34.453||Eliminated||-0.063||15|
- – Hulkenberg: 3 Place Grid Penalty