Mercedes Formula One driver Nico Rosberg of Germany drives out of his garage during the third practice session at Suzuka Circuit in Japan, today.
Mercedes returned to its dominant best by setting the fastest times in Saturday’s pre-qualifying practice session at the Japanese Grand Prix, with Nico Rosberg edging teammate Lewis Hamilton. His Ferrari team-mate Kimi Raikkonen fared slightly better in sixth, but was still 1.087 seconds behind Rosberg.
The German will start from fourth with the Williams of Valtteri Bottas third on the grid.
The Briton who suffered his first retirement in over a year last week in Singapore but still boasts a 41-point championship lead with six races left said Mercedes had learned “diddly-squat” in the rain.
Row four consists of Daniel Ricciardo in the Red Bull and Romain Grosjean in the Lotus, with Sergio Perez’s Force India and Daniil Kvyat (who had set the time before his mishap at the chicane) alongside. He was completing his final lap when qualifying was suspended. He won pole here previous year before being beaten by Hamilton in a wet race. Great position to be for tomorrow.
Even though it is one of this favourite tracks Suzuka has not been one of Hamilton’s happiest hunting grounds.
“I’ve never rolled a racing auto before and they say there’s a first time for everything”, said Kvyat. “I was on a good lap!” blasted Felipe Nasr over the radio as he dropped out in Q1.
“I’m not taking anything away from Danny, but it’s been helpful”. “I can not do much more than this”, Alonso said. “I have full my confidence in my team”, Hamilton assured Sky Sports News headquarters ahead of this weekend’s Japanese GP. It’s a great vehicle.
Red Bull’s Daniil Kvyat topped the timesheets at a soaking Suzuka, clocking one minute, 48.277 seconds with Rosberg 0.023 back and reigning world champion Hamilton a further half-a-second slower.
Explaining the incident, Kvyat said: “It was a rookie mistake, I put two wheels on the grass and that’s it”. “Beyond that, I’m really comfortable with the way the auto was handling this morning in the dry, good long run, quick, so it should be all good”.
“It has been a tough couple of weeks already and with this crash it’s extra work for the guys so I’m sorry about that”. Hamilton was forced to retire for the first time this season because of an engine-clamp failure while Rosberg finished fourth on a weekend when the team struggled for pace.
While 2014 was defined by a number of on-track scuffles between Hamilton and Rosberg, from the “Duel in the Desert” in Bahrain to their collision in the opening stages at Spa-Francorchamps, this season has been something of a cold war.