Nico Rosberg has secured pole position by 0.076s ahead of team-mate Lewis Hamilton for tomorrow’s Japanese Grand Prix.

Rosberg took provisional pole away from Hamilton late in Q3 when Red Bull Racing’s Daniil Kvyat crashed and brought the qualifying session to a premature end. The Russian put two wheels on the grass at Turn 10 before the hairpin, then lost control and hit the barrier causing his RB11 to roll in the gravel trap.

Luckily, Kvyat walked away from the wreckage unharmed, although he brought out the red flag which stopped Hamilton putting in a response to Rosberg’s time, handing Rosberg his first pole since the Spanish Grand Prix back in May.

Valtteri Bottas set the third fastest time in the Williams, four tenths adrift of Hamilton’s best time. The Finn did manage to out-qualify Singapore Grand Prix winner Sebastian Vettel, who was two-tenths of a second away in fourth.

Bottas’s team-mate Felipe Massa finished the session in fifth place and eight-tenths of a second slower than Rosberg’s benchmark, while Kimi Raikkonen was sixth in the second Ferrari.

Daniel Ricciardo finished in seventh position ahead of Romain Grosjean, Sergio Perez and his team-mate Kvyat.

Grosjean put in a late lap to secure his spot in Q3, just edging out Nico Hulkenberg who opted not to complete another run as he will incur a three-place grid penalty for his incident with Massa in Singapore. The pair qualified in eighth and 11th position respectively.

Max Verstappen’s qualifying was cut short at the end of Q1 when his STR10 stopped out on track due to an electrical issue. The parked Toro Rosso meant that no driver could improve on their lap time as the double waved yellow flags were brought out. Jenson Button was a casualty of the yellow flags, as he was unable to improve on his time and was knocked out in Q1. His team-mate Fernando Alonso qualified in 14th position ahead of Verstappen in 15th.

Will Stevens won the battle at the back of the grid by default, as team-mate Alexander Rossi was unable to set a lap time due to the stopped Toro Rosso on the track. He will need to seek approval from the Stewards if he is to start tomorrow’s race, as he failed to set a time within 107%.

Image via XPB Images

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Josh Kruse

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