Kimi Räikkönen & Sebastian Vettel

Kimi Räikkönen & Sebastian Vettel

lauantai 8. lokakuuta 2016

Japanese GP / Qualifying: Rosberg took pole in Suzuka thriller!

The most interesting question ahead of the qualifying was, whether Red Bull was still ahead of Ferrari in terms of the pecking order. The Scuderia gave their answer in Q1; Sebastian and Kimi were topping the timesheets -split only by 15 thousandths of a second. But where the red cars had used the soft Pirelli tyres, the silver ones had done their times on mediums. Red Bull duo of Verstappen and Ricciardo had also set their times on the medium compound. However, Ferrari´s pace seemed absolutely promising. The first faller in Q1 was McLaren´s Button, which must have been a disappointment to the Honda-powered squad. Out of Q2 were also Renault´s Magnussen (teammate Palmer surprisingly made it to Q2), Sauber duo of Ericsson and Nasr and Manor duo of Ocon and Wehrlein.

In Q2 it turned out, that Ferrari and Red Bull were seriously breathing down Mercedes´ necks. Hamilton made a small mistake on his flyer, which enabled Rosberg to take the upper hand on his teammate. After the first attempts the pecking order was quite straight forward: first Mercedes, second Ferrari and third Red Bull. These top six sat out the second runs. Williams, on the other hand, made one run only at the end of the second session. A bit surprisingly, either Bottas or Massa couldn´t make it into the final segment. The American team Haas were the surprise of the hour in a positive way, with both Grosjean and Gutierrez making it among the top ten. Out of Q3 were also Toro Rosso teammates (Kvyat acing Sainz this time!), McLaren´s Alonso and Renault´s Palmer.

Q3 was absolutely thrilling. Hamilton took provisional pole on his first run, with teammate Rosberg second. It was hair-raisingly tight between Ferrari and Red Bull; those four drivers were separated only by six hundredths of a second after the first runs! The red-suited drivers seemed to be a fraction ahead of their closest rival Red Bull. However, Rosberg grabbed the advantage back from Hamilton by thirteen-thousandths of a second (equating to 82 centimetres on track)! Kimi drove an outstanding lap at the end of the session and managed to extract the maximum out of his SF16-H -making it third. Teammate Sebastian qualified fourth, but carrying a three-place grid penalty for his collision in Malaysia, he´ll start to the race from P7. The flying Dutchman Verstappen out-qualified teammate Ricciardo in fifth and sixth, with Perez next up for Force India. The Haas duo of Grosjean and Gutierrez were eighth and tenth respectively, split by Force India´s Hulkenberg.

I´m expecting a thrilling race tomorrow. Rosberg clearly has the momentum now; I have a hunch that Hamilton has no chance to beat his teammate this time. Kimi´s performance at Suzuka has been impressively strong; it´s no secret that Kimi loves the track. Kimi has every chance to make it on the podium tomorrow. Sebastian, on the other hand, is more of a question mark. Hopefully he will take a wise start and he manages to improve from there. Red Bull´s race pace is convincing, too but hopefully Ferrari will have the upper hand this time. Can´t wait for tomorrow´s race. It´s absolutely wonderful to wake up early in the morning, have a cup of coffee and watch Formula 1 action -there´s nothing better than that!

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