Formula 1

Rosberg steals Japan GP pole from Hamilton in final lap

Nico Rosberg did just enough on his final flying lap to deny Mercedes team mate Lewis Hamilton a maiden Suzuka pole.

Rosberg steals Japan GP pole from Hamilton in final lap
BEHROUZ MEHRI

Championship leader Nico Rosberg seized pole position for the Formula One Japanese Grand Prix on Saturday, the German marginally fending off Mercedes team mate Lewis Hamilton in a close-run qualifying session.

Rosberg has led every session of the race weekend and confirmed his superiority around the Suzuka Circuit with a fastest lap of one minute, 30.647 seconds, just 0.013 seconds quicker than Hamilton on an overcast afternoon.

"I'm happy with the result in the end," Rosberg told reporters. "I was going well the whole weekend and had a good balance in the car, feeling good, feeling comfortable so that's what allows me to put in a lap like that in the end."

Rosberg's 30th career pole 

Mercedes AMG Petronas F1 Team's German driver Nico Rosberg takes a corner during the qualifying session at the Formula One Japanese Grand Prix in Suzuka on October 8, 2016.

Rosberg's 30th pole position of his career was the German's third in a row at Suzuka as Mercedes, who can wrap up a third successive constructors' title on Sunday, claimed first place on the grid for the 52nd time in the last 54 races.

Starting from the front also gives Rosberg a golden opportunity to extend his 23-point lead over defending champion Hamilton with four rounds remaining after Japan.

Hamilton engine failure 

The Briton had been poised to vault back into the overall lead at the last race in Malaysia until he was forced out with an engine failure while on his way to a landmark 50th win just 16 laps from the finish.

Hamilton tends to save his best for the third qualifying session and the triple world champion appeared on course to snatch pole away from the German after going faster on the pair's first attempts in the final 12-minute shootout.

Rosberg was not to be denied, however, and did just enough on his final flying lap to deny the Briton a maiden Suzuka pole.