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GP Week : Issue 211
QUALIFYING Bottas again qualify ahead of Felipe Massa, and a shade closer to the Mercs than before thanks to those updates: “We probably would have still been in the same position (without them) but with not as good a lap time, so we definitely made gains since the last race “It’s positive to see the whole year, actually, always when we plan for some updates and we put them on the car and it always works so that’s a good sign for the future and those updates should also help us in the future races this year.” Fernando was fifth ... again! “I’ve often ended up fifth in qualifying, but I think that today’s result can be seen in a different light as I enjoyed myself a lot out on track, both in the quick parts and the slower ones. So far, this weekend has been very positive as I had a good feeling from the car right from the first lap of free practice. “Unfortunately, the typhoon expected tomorrow is creating a bit of tension, because over the past two days, we haven’t done any wet running and having to do the opening lap of the race itself in the rain always complicates matters ... "Currently, we don’t know how much rain we can expect, so all we can do is prepare for a difficult race, because Suzuka is a circuit where, even in the dry, incidents can occur and it’s easy to make mistakes.” Before qualifying, Red Bull team boss Horner reckoned third row was the best the team could expect. Ricciardo delivered; Vettel didn’t. Daniel was pleased to bounce back after his frustrating P2 crash the day before: “I'm happy with how we bounced back in qualifying after my mistake yesterday, I thought we would be better here, but I think sixth is realistically what we could do today. If it rains tomorrow then we should be looking a bit better." And team boss Horner suggested that Red Bull was a team looking to Sunday: "On face value, sixth and ninth aren't exactly stellar grid positions but, with the decision on set-up that we made for tomorrow's race due to the inevitability of rain at some point, hopefully that will pay dividends tomorrow. We will see in 24 hours.” The other member of the Top Ten Club was McLaren, with its drivers ultimately split by mere hudredths. Eric Boullier summed up the team’s day: "Today we were able to build on the positive developmental work we did yesterday in FP1 and, in particular, FP2, and the result was a workmanlike P7 for Kevin and P8 for Jenson. Kevin was unhappy with his Q3 lap, feeling that he made a couple of errors that cost him a couple of tenths or more. Nonetheless, he has given another very good account of himself, all the more so when you consider that rookies usually struggle to get to grips with the myriad complexities of Suzuka. "Jenson, too, was less than fully satisfied with his Q3 performance, posting a lap 0.075s slower than Kevin's. Having said that, from their P7 and P8 grid slots, both Kevin and Jenson are well placed to score world championship points in tomorrow's race, whether or not it's rain-affected, as in truth we expect it to be." Not a likely huge guide to race-day, then, considering the forecast. Either way, no-one was going to beat Mercedes, but the rest seemed wide open. 2014 FORMULA 1TM JAPANESE GRAND PRIX 53 LAPS ROUND 15/19 << Last Race – Singapore Two Weeks Ago 17 Next Race – Russia >> Next Weekend 2014 FORMULA 1TM JAPANESE GRAND PRIX QUALIFYING CLASSIFICATION 1 – Taking Mercedes’ 8th front row lockout of the year (and 4th in a row), Nico Rosberg led Lewis Hamilton in all three sectors, but it was in sector 2 that he made the most ground (he was 0.163 ahead of Hamilton there, and 0.197s ahead overall in Q3). For Rosberg, it was an 8th pole of 2014, and his 7th consecutive front row start. While Lewis Hamilton may be disappointed to be 2nd, it should be noted that neither Mercedes driver had ever been on the front row at Suzuka prior to this weekend. Mercedes have finished 1-2 in every session here (FP1, FP2, FP3, Q1, Q2, Q3). 2 – The last time both Williams cars were in the top-4 on the grid at Suzuka was Ralf Schumacher and Juan-Pablo Montoya in 2001. Valtteri Bottas has his 6th top-3 start of the year, while Felipe Massa has tied his best start on this track since taking pole back in 2006. 3 – Fernando Alonso is leaving Ferrari, and that may be partly down to the fact that he qualified 5th this weekend for the 26th time in his 92 Ferrari appearances (and 36th time in his career – more than anyone else has ever started from that position). Daniel Ricciardo is only 6th, but he’d never been higher than 14th on the grid here, and he preserved his record of always outqualifying his teammates on this track. 4 – Kevin Magnussen outqualified Jenson Button for the 4th consecutive race weekend, but Button preserved his record of always starting in the top-10 at Suzuka in all 13 visits. Sebastian Vettel finds himself starting below the front row for the first time in his career at Suzuka. Curiously, the last time Kimi Räikkönen failed to score when starting 10th on the grid was the 2004 Hungarian GP. 5 – Force India’s Sergio Perez starts 11th here for the 2nd straight year, and outqualifies a teammate for the first time around this circuit, while Nico Hülkenberg has been 13th on the grid at the last 3 straight races. While Adrian Sutil and Esteban Gutierrez are an apparently-lacklustre 14th and 15th, it was only the 4th time in 2014 that both Saubers progressed from Q1. 6 – Romain Grosjean started 4th in each of the last 2 Japanese GPs, but by contrast both Lotuses were knocked out in Q1 this weekend. Marcus Ericsson has a career-best 17th on the grid, outqualifying Kamui Kobayashi for the first time since Silverstone (and the first time in dry conditions since Catalunya). Jean-Eric Vergne had never started higher than 17th here, and that run continues thanks to a penalty for taking a 6th engine, the same penalty that befell Pastor Maldonado, who only moved down 5 positions from his qualifying position, therefore meaning he will “carry over” a 5-place penalty to Russia. 28 GPWEEK.com // 28 GPWEEK.com // F1 >>> JAPAN PARTNERS: