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F1 Japanese GP: Hooked up Rosberg raises pressure on Hamilton

Nico Rosberg hooks up the ideal lap to defeat Lewis Hamilton for a potentially pivotal eighth pole position of the season in Suzuka.
RESULTS: Japanese Grand Prix – Qualifying results

Nico Rosberg has put himself in prime position to extend his Formula 1 World Championship lead over Lewis Hamilton after getting the edge on his title rival to snatch pole for the Japanese Grand Prix.

The German, who comes into the Suzuka weekend with a 23 point lead over his Mercedes team-mate, began qualifying having topped all three practice sessions.

However, he came up against stern opposition in Hamilton when it mattered in Q3 and it would take a rapid second flying lap for him to establish the merest of edges over his team-mate, Rosberg winning pole by just 0.013secs.

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Marking his eighth pole position of the season, having out-scored Hamilton in each of the last four races, Rosberg is keen to make his good form count in a race he failed to win from pole in 2014 and 2015.

“Of course I am happy with the result in the end. It was going well the whole weekend and I had a good balance in the car, feeling good, feeling comfortable, and that's what allows me to put in a lap like that in the end.

“It's just a good lap, very well done properly, I knew I could do a good lap and the first one in Q3 wasn't perfect so I just had to get my head down.

“The [pole] lap was just putting everything together. For sure the start is going to be an important one tomorrow, and we've seen this weekend it's not been too easy because it's downhill and the grip somehow has been a bit lower than usual – so it's going to be an interesting challenge. From then on just need to get the tyre life to get to do long enough stints and everything to get the strategy to work, it's just putting everything together.”

Crucially, should Rosberg win the Japanese Grand Prix, it will mean Hamilton cannot claw back the points deficit solely by simply winning the final four races.

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