It may all be very different tomorrow, however. It will be wet all day, and it remains to be seen what effect Typhoon Phanfone might have. We take a team-by-team look at the pre-race form at Suzuka…
Nico Rosberg, 1m 32.506s, P1
Lewis Hamilton, 1m 32.703s, P2
Hamilton freely admitted that his FP3 shunt when he got the entry to Turn 1 wrong didn’t really affect his performance in qualifying, and said that he just didn’t have the same speed as Rosberg when it mattered. They weren’t miles apart, but the German rose superbly to the post-Singapore challenge and was clearly chuffed to be back on top as Mercedes dominated all three sessions.
Valtteri Bottas, 1m 33.128s, P3
Felipe Massa, 1m 33.527s, P4
Massa was on much better form after yesterday’s engine hesitation had been cured and he had a comparable fuel load to team mate Bottas. He had the Finn’s measure in FP3, but in qualifying Bottas reversed their positions. Both men said they were very happy with the aerodynamic upgrade brought here and that it will help everywhere they go, and were delighted to wrap up the second row of the grid as the aim all along was to be next in line behind the Mercedes.
Daniel Ricciardo, 1m 34.075s, P6
Sebastian Vettel, 1m 34.432s, P9
Once again Red Bull just didn’t have the pace they expected, and both RB10s looked like loose-handling monsters as Ricciardo and Vettel struggled to get them turned in. Vettel also said that an ERS issue in the morning had left him on his back foot in qualifying.
Fernando Alonso, 1m 33.740s, P5
Kimi Raikkonen, 1m 34.548s, P10
Alonso said he got a good feel from his F14 T straight away this weekend and was able to build on that confidence all through qualifying. Raikkonen lost time in FP3 with powertrain issues, and then had balance problems in qualifying.
Kevin Magnussen, 1m 34.242s, P7
Jenson Button, 1m 34.317s, P8
Both drivers were reasonably happy with the updated McLaren MP4-29. Magnussen thought he left a couple of tenths on the table because of a couple of small mistakes on his best lap, while Button said his second run in Q3 was his best lap of the day even if a lock-up into the hairpin left him with a small flat spot.
Jean-Eric Vergne, 1m 34.984s, P11, will start P20
Daniil Kvyat, 1m 35.092s, P13, will start P12
Vergne was very happy with 11th fastest time after the need to change his car’s engine shortly after FP3 began. But sadly that change incurred a 10-place grid penalty for using a sixth Renault engine, so he dropped to 20th. Kvyat said he didn’t quite get the temperature in his tyres, but believes he can fight from 12th on the grid.
Sergio Perez, 1m 35.089s, P12, will start P11
Nico Hulkenberg, 1m 35.099s, P14, will start P13
There was disappointment here. Perez blamed traffic for making him back off and thus losing him temperature in his tyres and brakes which proved costly. Hulkenberg blamed a lock-up going in to the hairpin for costing him a chance of Q3.
Adrian Sutil, 1m 35.364s, P15, will start P14
Esteban Gutierrez, 1m 35.681s, P16, will start P15
Both drivers struggled with the C33 round Suzuka, and Sutil in particular was unhappy with his car’s balance, but they both made it through to Q2 at Lotus’s expense.
Pastor Maldonado, 1m 35.917s, P17, will start P22
Romain Grosjean, 1m 35.984s, P18, will start P16
Both drivers were very disappointed that a change in wind direction seemed to have cost the E22 some performance since yesterday. Maldonado had a 10-place grid penalty for having a sixth engine of the season, and as he could only provisionally serve five of them here, the remaining five will be carried over to Russia.
Marcus Ericsson, 1m 36.813s, P19, will start P17
Kamui Kobayashi, 1m 37.015s, P21, will start P19
Ericsson’s strong Suzuka form continued with a strong performance that put him ahead of both the Marussias and his more experienced - and Japanese -team mate. Kobayashi said he was happy with his performance as thanks to his crash yesterday he never had the chance to try the medium tyres until Q1.
Jules Bianchi, 1m 36.943s, P20, will start P18
Max Chilton, 1m 37.481s, P22, will start P21
Bianchi was frustrated that a call to the weighbridge cost him his chance of a final run in Q1 when he was battling with Ericsson, while Chilton was angry with himself for losing the back end in the Spoon Curve when he was four-tenths of a second up on his previous lap.