Rosberg fends off Hamilton to seize pole in Japan

Sat Oct 8, 2016 1:11pm EDT
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By Abhishek Takle

SUZUKA, Japan (Reuters) - Championship leader Nico Rosberg seized pole position for the Formula One Japanese Grand Prix on Saturday, the German marginally fending off Mercedes team mate Lewis Hamilton in a close-run qualifying session.

Rosberg has led every session of the race weekend and confirmed his superiority around the Suzuka Circuit with a fastest lap of one minute, 30.647 seconds, just 0.013 seconds quicker than Hamilton on an overcast afternoon.

"I'm happy with the result in the end," Rosberg told reporters. "I was going well the whole weekend and had a good balance in the car, feeling good, feeling comfortable so that's what allows me to put in a lap like that in the end."

Rosberg's 30th pole position of his career was the German's third in a row at Suzuka as Mercedes, who can wrap up a third successive constructors' title on Sunday, claimed first place on the grid for the 52nd time in the last 54 races.

Starting from the front also gives Rosberg a golden opportunity to extend his 23-point lead over defending champion Hamilton with four rounds remaining after Japan.

The Briton had been poised to vault back into the overall lead at the last race in Malaysia until he was forced out with an engine failure while on his way to a landmark 50th win just 16 laps from the finish.

Hamilton tends to save his best for the third qualifying session and the triple world champion appeared on course to snatch pole away from the German after going faster on the pair's first attempts in the final 12-minute shootout.


Formula One F1 - Japanese Grand Prix - Suzuka Circuit, Japan - 8/10/16. Mercedes' Lewis Hamilton of Britain, Mercedes' Nico Rosberg of Germany and Ferrari's Kimi Raikkonen of Finland (L-R) attend a photo session after the qualifying session. REUTERS/Toru Hanai