26 September 2015
F1 Japanese Grand Prix: Rosberg nails laps to cement Mercedes comeback
Nico Rosberg heads a Mercedes 1-2 in qualifying for the Japanese Grand Prix, banishing memories of the team's struggle on the streets of Marina Bay.
Nico Rosberg claimed pole position for the Japanese Grand Prix at the head of Mercedes 1-2 that puts the Three Pointed Star back on top of the F1 pack after a difficult weekend in Singapore.
Just one week on from the struggle at Marina Bay, where the Silver Arrows occupied only row three of the grid, Rosberg pipped team-mate Lewis Hamilton to top spot in qualifying at Suzuka when a red flag, for Daniil Kvyat's monster accident, halted the session prior to the drivers being able to complete their second runs.
Hamilton made some minor errors on his first run, but that did not stop Rosberg from celebrating only his second pole position of the 2015 season, repeating his performance from last year's Japanese Grand Prix.
“Of course I'm very happy – it's been a great day today,” the German admitted, “It's a good comeback for the team and fantastic, after such a difficult weekend in Singapore, to be back to our usual strength today. At times today, I had the perfect car and it was a pleasure to drive. Suzuka is the ultimate track and to have a good car here is just awesome.
“It was a strong performance from the team, and a great car, so I'm very thankful for that. We really turned things around and optimised everything for this track and, for me, I pretty much nailed my laps so I'm really pleased with the way it went. It's a great position to be in for tomorrow.”
With Friday being washed out ahead of a dry qualifying session, extra importance fell on Saturday morning's final practice session, giving the teams just an hour to dial their cars into race trim as well as getting ready for qualifying. Despite the rush, Rosberg says he expects to be ready for Sunday's main event.
“I'm confident that the car is going to be good but, as for everybody, we didn't have the perfect preparation so there might be a few surprises tomorrow,” he allowed, “I'm confident I have found a good balance as we did some high fuel running this morning and the balance was good. It should be fine.”
The weather also accounted for the pack's inability to beat last year's pole time, with Rosberg confirming that the track was still evolving.
“There was not much [evolution] at all because, on the prime, I did a 33-whatever which was very close to the option tyre,” he noted, “I'm sure the track was surely not as good [as in qualifying last year] because there was not as much rubber down.”
After lacking performance in the rain that affected last year's race, Rosberg insists that he is better prepared this time around.
“I didn't struggle in the rain, I just struggled on the inter tyre,” he explained, “But, on the inter yesterday, it was feeling great, so I'm confident about that. If it rains, it's fine...”
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