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Japanese F1 Grand Prix 2016 Qualifying: Saturday's Results, Times, Final Grid

Matt JonesFeatured ColumnistOctober 8, 2016

SUZUKA, JAPAN - OCTOBER 08:  Nico Rosberg of Germany and Mercedes GP in the garage  during final practice for the Formula One Grand Prix of Japan at Suzuka Circuit on October 8, 2016 in Suzuka.  (Photo by Clive Mason/Getty Images)
Clive Mason/Getty Images

Nico Rosberg kept the pressure on Mercedes team-mate Lewis Hamilton in the race for the Formula One world championship on Saturday, qualifying in pole position for the Japanese Grand Prix.

Rosberg, who leads his rival by 23 points with five races remaining, posted a time of one minute, 36.647 seconds to go top of the standings, with Hamilton just 0.013 seconds back. Ferrari's Kimi Raikkonen will begin the race in third.

Earlier in the day, Rosberg topped the third and final practice session, while Hamilton was only able to come home in seventh position.

Here’s a reminder of how things panned out on Saturday, including the results in full from final qualifying and practice.

    

Qualifying Recap

This is how it's shaping up after qualifying, with Rosberg set to start Sunday’s race in pole position, per the F1 Twitter feed:

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Formula 1 @F1

PROVISIONAL CLASSIFICATION (END OF #QUALI): ROS on top, @ScuderiaFerrari beat out Red Bull #JapaneseGP 🇯🇵 #F1 https://t.co/Tsqy0sCT5A

Both Mercedes drivers ran into difficulty on their first lap in Q1—Rosberg running wide and Hamilton running into traffic—but were still able to easily secure their passage through. Meanwhile, it was the Ferraris setting the early pace, with Sebastian Vettel top of the standings and Raikkonen second.

However, as noted by F1 on NBC Sports, the advantage was still firmly with the Silver Arrows:

F1 on NBC Sports @F1onNBCSports

Both Ferraris clock in the 1:31.6 bracket on @pirellisport softs. Makes you wonder what the Mercedes are capable once off the mediums.

After their tribulations in the morning, it was little surprise to see McLaren’s Jenson Button fail to make it beyond the first session. However, after their strong performance in the morning, Renault would have been disappointed to see Kevin Magnussen dropped.

In second qualifying, Mercedes put their foot down, particularly Rosberg. On the soft tyre he hammered in a 1:30.714, a mark Hamilton was unable to get close to.

For the remainder of Q2, it was a struggle for Williams, as both Valtteri Bottas and Felipe Massa were unable to make it into the top-10 shootout. Meanwhile, it was a session to remember for Haas as both Esteban Gutierrez and Romain Grosjean kept themselves in contention, per the team’s Twitter feed:

Haas F1 Team @HaasF1Team

Thanks for all the support!!! It worked, we've got @EstebanGtz (P7) and @RGrosjean (P8) into #Q3. First time both cars make the session. 👏

Meanwhile, BBC Sport’s Andrew Benson still wasn’t betting against Hamilton securing pole despite Rosberg’s early dominance:

Andrew Benson @andrewbensonf1

If Hamilton can hook up a decent lap, looks like he has pole in him. But not for the first time year, he hasn't yet https://t.co/9FMLtYEiZ4

The Briton laid down a very sharp early marker in the first run, too, posting 1:30.758, a time Rosberg trailed by just short of a couple of tenths after going wide into Degner 2. Things were tight at the top overall, with the top six separated by less than half a second.

Rosberg is looking in fine form ahead of Sunday's race.
Rosberg is looking in fine form ahead of Sunday's race.YUYA SHINO/Getty Images

However, Rosberg hooked it up on the second attempt, posting 1:30.647 to take provisional pole. And although Hamilton improved on his own time, he came up tantalisingly short, less than two-hundredths of a second behind his team-mate.

Meanwhile, Raikkonen produced a strong lap to take third place, and while Vettel was fourth quickest on the day, a three-place grid penalty will push him back into seventh.

   

FP3 Recap

Here’s a look back at the standings from final practice, as Rosberg continued his excellent form in Suzuka:

Formula 1 @F1

PROVISIONAL CLASSIFICATION (END OF #FP3): ROS on top... HAM in P7... @RenaultSportF1 looking strong 💪 #JapaneseGP 🇯🇵 #FP3 https://t.co/J0sLj753Wy

Hamilton was short of his team-mate in the runs on Friday, although with some qualifying simulation to come early on Saturday, we were set for a real indication of what the world champion could offer.

However, while Rosberg was able to bang in a brilliant lap time on his run in the Mercedes, Hamilton lost his rhythm in the middle sector and aborted. Additionally, on the medium-compound tyre early in the session, the German was again the quicker man.

Hamilton struggled in final practice.
Hamilton struggled in final practice.TOSHIFUMI KITAMURA/Getty Images

Trailing the leading Mercedes man was the Red Bull of Daniel Ricciardo and in third Vettel in the Ferrari. The latter struggled to match his team-mate Kimi Raikkonen, who was now in fifth, on Day 1, although he seemed to have found a better balance on the cusp of qualifying.

The success story of the session overall was Renault, with their drivers Jolyon Palmer and Magnussen setting identical lap times in eighth and ninth. Sports statistician Sean Kelly was backing them for a strong qualifying:

Sean Kelly @virtualstatman

Jolyon Palmer 8th, Kevin Magnussen 9th. Renault don't have a Q3 appearance in 2016. This is very promising #JapaneseGP

Meanwhile, McLaren continued to struggle with their setup, with Fernando Alonso and Jenson Button both finding things tough. With the qualifying session predicted to include changeable conditions to come, that would have been a big concern for the team.

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