Whilst Mercedes were dominating the qualifying session as they always do - setting fast times in both Q1 and Q2, then waiting while everyone else fell in behind, followed up by Nico Rosberg pipping his teammate to pole position by just 0.197 seconds - the attention was firmly on Red Bull.
The team looked down on pace as they set about in their first qualifying since confirming Vettel would be departing next year. They remained in the garage in Q1, a risky decision that saw Ricciardo down in 15th by the time the session ended. They also only had enough pace for 6th and 9th on the grid, ending their five year qualifying domination of the Suzuka circuit.
Williams had a strong session, finishing with both cars on the second row - Valtteri Bottas ahead of Felipe Massa. It was the opposite story for Lotus, who dropped out in the first session, Grosjean having a moan about his car for the second weekend in a row, and Maldonado taking on a ten place grid drop for using his sixth power unit of the season.
Filed under F1Minute
References Felipe Massa, Nico Rosberg, Suzuka Circuit, Valtteri Bottas
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