Formula 1 Mercedes-Benz

2014 Japanese GP: qualifying report

2014 Japanese Grand Prix

Nico Rosberg (1:32.506) has qualified on pole for the eighth time this season and will start alongside his Mercedes AMG teammate, Lewis Hamilton (1:32.703), for tomorrow’s Japanese Grand Prix at the much loved Suzuka circuit.

The second-row is an all-Williams affair, with Valtteri Bottas (1:33.128) to start from P3 ahead of Felipe Massa (1:33.527). Fernando Alonso (1:33.740) has put his Ferrari on P5 and has Daniel Ricciardo (1:34.075) to his side.

“I’m happy with how we bounced back in qualifying after my mistake yesterday,” Ricciardo said. “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.”

Daniel’s departing teammate, Sebastian Vettel (1:34.432), could only manage P9. Ahead of the four-time world champ are Kevin Magnussen (1:34.242) in P7, then Jenson Button (1:34.317). Kimi Raikkonen (1:34.548) rounds out the top 10.

Heavy rain is expected for tomorrow’s race and it’s likely to be an entertaining affair. For Australian readers don’t forget the change to daylight savings time tonight. Check your local guides for TV times, it looks like we’re set for some awesome race!

2014 Japanese Grand Prix qualifying

  1. Nico Rosberg Mercedes AMG – 1:32.506
  2. Lewis Hamilton Mercedes AMG – 1:32.703
  3. Valtteri Bottas Williams – 1:33.128
  4. Felipe Massa Williams – 1:33.527
  5. Fernando Alonso Ferrari – 1:33.740
  6. Daniel Ricciardo Red Bull Racing – 1:34.075
  7. Kevin Magnussen McLaren – 1:34.242
  8. Jenson Button McLaren – 1:34.317
  9. Sebastian Vettel Red Bull Racing – 1:34.432
  10. Kimi Räikkönen Ferrari – 1:34.548
  11. Jean-Eric Vergne Toro Rosso – 1:34.984
  12. Sergio Perez Force India – 1:35.089
  13. Daniil Kvyat Toro Rosso – 1:35.092
  14. Nico Hulkenberg Force India – 1:35.099
  15. Adrian Sutil Sauber – 1:35.364
  16. Esteban Gutierrez Sauber – 1:35.681
  17. Pastor Maldonado Lotus – 1:35.917
  18. Romain Grosjean Lotus – 1:35.984
  19. Marcus Ericsson Caterham – 1:36.813
  20. Jules Bianchi Marussia – 1:36.943
  21. Kamui Kobayashi Caterham – 1:37.015
  22. Max Chilton Marussia – 1:37.481

Q1 107% Time 1:40.163

Note: Maldonado qualified P17, drops 10 grid places for engine change.

2014 Japanese Grand Prix Qualifying Press Conference

Transcript of the qualifying press conference organised by the FIA for the 2014 Japanese Grand Prix

Sat 04.10.14, 10:10AM

1 – Nico ROSBERG (Mercedes)
2 – Lewis HAMILTON (Mercedes)
3 – Valtteri BOTTAS (Williams)


Q: Nico, after the disappointment of Singapore, how important was this?
Nico ROSBERG: I’m not thinking about Singapore any more. I’m here, Suzuka, here to try and win and so yeah, it was a great day today. Of course, it’s only one step on the way but really good. It was a real pleasure today because the car is so amazing to drive and on this track which is one of the most spectacular to drive in qualifying, low fuel, the tyre grip and everything. It was really cool.

Q: Your thoughts on the weather tomorrow; how prepared are you for that?
NR: As prepared as we can be. We’re expecting it, we’re expecting it to be wet. The last experience we have in the wet was Spa where our car was really really quick, so I’m very very optimistic actually. Even if it rains, it could be even better for us.

Q: And what’s it going to be like with a strong wind as well?
NR: I don’t know. For sure, the more windy it is, the more difficult it is out there, because the cars are very sensitive to wind but it will be fine.

Q: Lewis, we’re used to seeing tiny margins between the two of you but it’s a relatively large margin this time. Tell us about what happened in your Q3?
Lewis HAMILTON: Not too much, really. Nico was extremely quick today. I did the best I could. My guys did a fantastic job to rebuild the car after I binned it so a big thank-you for their hard work. Yeah, just today, wasn’t really feeling it. Don’t know why. It was still fast but Nico was fantastically fast today. But tomorrow’s the day when you get the points so I’m looking forward to all the different tricky weather that perhaps will come.

Q: And you mentioned a little bit of a vibration at one point as well…
LH: Yeah, I generally had that throughout the whole run. I don’t know if that was following the incident but maybe it was just the tyres imbalanced maybe but it didn’t get in the way of the result.

Q: And was it difficult to have to get back in the car and immediately be on the pace after this morning’s accident?
LH: No. That’s the way it is, that’s what we’re trained to do.

Q: Valtteri, much better qualifying position for you, obviously compared to last year, your third third place this year as well, best of the rest, and 0.4s behind Mercedes. How does that sound?
Valtteri BOTTAS: Not too bad, I think. They looked really really quick yesterday and even this morning so it was nice to get a little closer. They still have some margin and they’re going to be really quick tomorrow as well. But I think we need to be happy as a team, third and fourth, that was the goal today.

Q: And how is the Williams going to be in the wet?
VB: We know that we might struggle a little bit more in the wet but there now seems to be also a bit of a margin behind us so hopefully we can still fight for a podium if it’s really wet. But I think like everyone and for the fans, it would be really nice if we could really have a good race so that the rain would not be too much. Let’s hope for the best.

Q: Nico, how important is pole going to be tomorrow? People have always said it’s very difficult to overtake around here; is that more or less the case in the wet weather?
NR: Well, for sure it’s better to be first and second, so it’s some sort of an advantage but I don’t yet know how much. If it’s dry, then it’s more of an advantage, maybe if it’s wet a little bit less so but I’m still definitely happy to be on pole.


Q: Your eighth pole position of the year so far and obviously a really good one around here, you really seemed to enjoy that one.
NR: Yeah for sure. Today was a good day, I just felt very comfortable in the car, I had a good balance. Our car is just unbelievable out there today.

Q: Are you basically going to be relying on the FIA to run the race depending on the weather conditions? Is there anything the driver can do?
NR: I’m not really thinking too much about tomorrow. I’m sure they’re going to try and take the best decision for everybody, especially for the fans who are also coming out to watch the race. I’m sure it will be OK.

Q: Lewis, when it comes to weather we’re expecting tomorrow, have you already set the car up for those conditions because obviously it’s going to be in parc ferme?
LH: No, because we set it up for qualifying today.

Q: So not for the race itself, not with a wet set-up or a huge amount of wing?
LH: No.

Q: Valtteri, what can you do for the expected weather?
VB: Well, yeah, if the weather is like it’s expected to be, first of all I really hope we can have a race but it could be difficult, but it’s going to be difficult for everyone. In mixed conditions, a lot of things can happen. The main thing is that as we’re now starting with both cars from a good place the aim is to try and get all the points available for us to take. The main thing is to score the points.

Q: Nico, finally, what’s that run like into the first corner because it looks incredibly quick; we’ve seen people go off there in the past, that’s where Lewis went off this morning?
NR: It’s a very exciting corner, for sure, because it’s a bit difficult to feel the limit, as you’re coming towards there, and you just have to give it a guess and give it a go. It’s a good corner.

Q: Especially when you’re got 21 cars behind you.
NR: Yes indeed. That’s a bit easier then.

Q: And finally, tell us a bit about the downhill start?
NR: It’s not much different. You just have to keep a little bit of brake pressure on so that you don’t roll off the grid, so you don’t get a jump start and then it’s fine.


Q: (Paolo Ianieri – La Gazzetta dello Sport) To all three of you: the big rumours of the day are Sebastian Vettel leaving Red Bull…
NR: That’s not a rumour any more.

Q: (Paolo Ianieri – La Gazzetta dello Sport) It’s not a rumour, right. Sebastian leaving Red Bull and probably going to Ferrari.
NR: That’s a rumour.

Q: (Paolo Ianieri – La Gazzetta dello Sport) What do you think about this?
NR: I don’t know. It was a big surprise. I find it good for the sport when there’s a bit of movement and there’s a bit of excitement. I think that’s all good. A bit of a change, change is always good. And interesting.

LH: Has nothing to do with me, so…

VB: Yeah, not much to do with me. I guess it’s nice to see a bit of change but it doesn’t change very much for me.

Q: (Michael Schmidt – Auto, Motor und Sport) Lewis, on your last lap, I think, you locked the brakes at the hairpin. Was that a crucial moment when you lost out to Nico?
LH: No, I don’t think so. I don’t think I lost any time with it. I just wasn’t quick enough today.

Q: (Michael Schmidt – Auto, Motor und Sport) And one to Valterri: how much have the upgrades on the car helped; would you have been in the same position with the old spec?
VB: We probably would have still been in the same position 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. That’s a good thing.