Saturday, September 26, 2015

Rosberg Re-Establishes Mercedes Pole-Winning Ways in Japan

Photo Credit: Mercedes AMG

The last race in Singapore proved to be the biggest defeat of Mercedes AMG in the last two seasons. Not only was the German factory team defeated in the main event, their long running pole and front-row starting streak was ended by the efforts of Ferrari and lead driver Sebastian Vettel. One week later, the team supporting championship-contending pilots Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg set sights on the 2015 Japanese Grand Prix's Suzuka Circuit in order to reclaim their glory.

For the first time returning to the same track where last year Jules Bianchi suffered his eventually fatal accident in the rain, some competitors appeared apprehensive taking to a wet track on Friday. Since the forecast called for a dry qualifying for Saturday, teams like Mercedes AMG chose to limit their track activity on the first day at Suzuka. In the third and final practice on Saturday ahead of time trials, Nico Rosberg claimed a near 3/10ths of a second advantage over teammate Hamilton. With Mercedes AMG once again positioned with superior pace, the team prepared alongside nine other Formula 1 teams for Japanese Grand Prix qualifying.

Throughout all three sessions, the Mercedes AMG duo fought for the top spot. At the end, it was Nico Rosberg claiming the pole for the Japanese Grand Prix. Clocked setting a 1-minute, 32.584-second lap time around the 5.807-kilometer track, the pole-winning result by the German was just 0.076 seconds faster than teammate Lewis Hamilton. Rosberg's top time was cemented before time officially ran out in Q3.

A frightening high-speed crash involving the Red Bull-Renault race car, driven by Russian pilot Daniil Kyvat, occurring in the last moment of the final qualifying group placed a yellow flag out on the course. The caution flag effectively defeated any possibility of Hamilton being able to set a faster time then Rosberg's. Putting a wheel off onto the grass, the Kvyat's car shot violently against a safety barrier and promptly flipped sideways as wheels dug into the sand of the run-off area. Landing upright, the driver inside the mangled Red Bull-Renault faired well considering his wild ride. While Daniil Kvyat was thankfully unhurt in the massive impact, the Russian driver will have to start the Japanese Grand Prix from pit road due to the extensive damage of his primary race car.

With factory-backed Mercedes-Benz powered vehicle occupying the front row, Valtteri Bottas mounted the charge that placed his Williams-Mercedes in third in Japan. Singapore winner Sebastian Vettel will start fourth in his Ferrari alongside the Williams of Bottas. In the third row, Felipe Massa and Kimi Raikkonen will start immediately behind their teammates.

Scheduled to start at 3 P.M. local time, the 53-lap 2015 Japanese Grand Prix will be seen at 1 A.M. in the eastern time zone.

2015 Formula 1
Japanese Grand Prix
Starting Line-up

Pos # Car # Driver Team Engine

1 6 Nico Rosberg Mercedes AMG Mercedes-Benz
2 44 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes AMG Mercedes-Benz
3 77 Valtteri Bottas Williams F1 Mercedes-Benz
4 5 Sebastian Vettel Ferrari Ferrari
5 19 Felipe Massa Williams Mercedes-Benz
6 7 Kimi Raikkonen Ferrari Ferrari
7 3 Daniel Ricciardo Red Bull Renault
8 8 Romain Grosjean Lotus Mercedes-Benz
9 11 Sergio Perez Force India Mercedes-Benz
10 55 Carlos Sainz Jr Scuderia Toro Rosso Renault
11 13 Pastor Maldonado Lotus Mercedes-Benz
12 14 Fernando Alonso McLaren Honda
13 27 Nico Hulkenberg Force India Mercedes-Benz
14 22 Jenson Button McLaren Honda
15 9 Marcus Ericsson Sauber Ferrari
16 12 Felipe Nasr Sauber Ferrari
17 33 Max Verstappen Scuderia Toro Rosso Renault
18 28 Will Stevens Manor Marussia Ferrari
19 53 Alexander Rossi Manor Marussia Ferrari
20 26 Daniil Kvyat Red Bull Renault

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