Nico Rosberg clinched pole position ahead of teammate Lewis Hamilton on Saturday as Mercedes dominated qualifying for Sunday’s Japanese Formula One Grand Prix.
The final session ended early after a heavy crash by Red Bull’s Daniil Kvyat. The Russian driver emerged unhurt after he lost control of his car, which was left badly damaged from hitting a barrier and somersaulting.
Kvyat qualified in 10th position and his teammate, Australian driver Daniel Ricciardo, qualified seventh fastest.
Rosberg set a fastest lap of 1 minute 32.584 seconds, 0.076 seconds ahead of Hamilton for his second pole of the season (Spanish GP) and the 17th of his career.
World champion and championship leader Hamilton was unable to respond when the session was abruptly ended by Kvyat’s crash, which led to a red flag some 30 seconds before the end.
“A great day today,” Rosberg said. “A good comeback for the team after such a difficult weekend in Singapore. We really turned things around and I pretty much nailed my laps today. Great position for tomorrow.”
Valtteri Bottas in a Williams was third and Singapore winner Sebastian Vettel in a Ferrari was fourth on a dry Suzuka circuit after heavy rain affected Friday’s practice sessions.
Felipe Massa and his Williams were fifth fastest, Ferrari’s Kimi Raikkonen was sixth, Romain Grosjean in a Lotus was eighth and Force India’s Sergio Perez was ninth fastest.
Formula One has returned to Suzuku for the first time since the death of Jules Bianchi in July, nine months after he crashed at last year’s race at Suzuka.