Nico Rosberg secured his thirtieth career pole position and his third consecutive pole at Suzuka with a great last lap during qualifying on Saturday.
The Mercedes AMG PETRONAS headed into the session high on confidence after topping all three practice sessions, and although team-mate Lewis Hamilton got close to Rosberg – just 0.013 seconds separated the championship duelling drivers – the German did enough to take the advantage of pole position for race day.
Despite starting from pole position in both 2014 and 2015, Rosberg was unable to convert either to victory, and knows Hamilton as well as the two Scuderia Ferrari and Red Bull Racing drivers will be in contention on Sunday.
“I’ve been feeling great all weekend, having felt incredibly comfortable in the car,” said Rosberg. “It gave me the confidence to push even harder at the end of Q3 which meant I pulled out a great lap to recover pole from Lewis.
“Suzuka is a really difficult circuit because of the varying corners which means it’s even more difficult to get the car set up just right. It’s great to start from P1, but as we’ve realised, it’s not the most important thing this year as you also need to get the start and the race strategy spot on.
“Lewis will push hard and so will the Ferraris and the Red Bulls. It’s clear that both these teams looked very strong on the high fuel. It will be an exciting race tomorrow, in front of Suzuka’s amazing fans. I’m definitely looking forward to it!”