Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg qualified in third and six places today for the Japanese Grand Prix at Suzuka.
The gusty conditions during Qualifying saw a peak wind speed of 10.3 m/s and a minimum of 3.8 m/s. The session also saw unusually close gaps, with the top six in less than half a second and top 10 less than a second. Lewis’ tyre usage was as follows: Q1, prime / Q2, new option + new option / Q3, used option + new option. Nico’s tyre usage was as follows: Q1, prime + new option / Q2, used option + new option / Q3, new option.
I am really happy with P3 on the grid and the team has done a great job this weekend, so thank you to everybody for their hard work. It seems to me that we have a better package here than we’ve had for a while and the car felt awesome to drive. The wind direction changed around from yesterday’s practice session and that changed the characteristics of the circuit, which felt like it had much more grip. Third place is a strong result from Qualifying but the Red Bulls were just out of reach today. Managing the tyre degradation will be key tomorrow so hopefully we can get a good start from the clean side of the grid, then see what we can do from there against the guys in front.
It was a good lap but it’s annoying when you step out of the car and the gap to the cars ahead is so close. I have put my set-up more towards tomorrow afternoon, so I’m quite confident about what will be a challenging race for the tyres. P6 is not a bad position to start from and I will try to climb some places up the order. Qualifying always involves some compromises in terms of set-up but we saw in Korea that it was working out quite well for me in the race until my wing broke. I hope we have found the same good balance between qualifying and race performance this weekend.
That was a slightly patchy qualifying session for us during which it was tricky to put the laps together in the very gusty conditions, so I think we can be reasonably pleased with third and sixth positions on the grid. Both drivers did a very creditable job in the circumstances to maximise the car they had under them. Looking down the timesheets, it’s intriguing to see such close gaps on a circuit of such challenging complexity, with hundreds of a second accounting for several grid positions up and down the field. Tomorrow’s race will in large part be dictated by how well the cars and drivers are able to manage the tyres and I think we can expect a very interesting afternoon.
Both drivers worked hard this afternoon to get the best out of a session where the gaps were very close indeed behind the two Red Bulls. The key factor now is finding the correct strategy for the race and I am sure we will see a mixture of approaches tomorrow afternoon. We will be working hard overnight to find the right compromise for our cars and drivers in the race.
Source: Mercedes AMG Petronas