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Rosberg takes sixth successive pole


Ahead of today's qualifying session the air temperature is 26 degrees C, whilst the track temperature is 30 degrees.

As ever with these twilight events, the disparity in temperatures between the early and late sessions presents a conundrum for the teams.

In this morning's session Nico Rosberg led the way, as he did in FP2 yesterday, whilst teammate Lewis Hamilton, though only 0.281s off the pace, failed to convince.

Whilst pole-man has only won here once since the first event in 2009, the winner has always started from the front row. Furthermore, as with all street tracks, as overtaking is difficult it is vital to be as near the front of the grid as possible.

The Ferraris have looked good all weekend, despite a Mexico-type mistake from Sebastian Vettel this morning, and we have a feeling that the red cars are going to end the season on a high.

It was a mixed morning for Red Bull, Daniel Ricciardo finishing sixth whilst teammate Daniil Kvyat failed to post a time having been side-lined by an electrical issue.

With the Williams pair eighth and ninth, and Carlos Sainz tenth, the big surprise was Force India, Sergio Perez finishing a very impressive fourth and Nico Hulkenberg seventh.

Unlike Monaco, drivers are allowed a margin of error here, mistakes ending in a trip across the generous tarmac run-offs as opposed to a clash with the barriers.

Nonetheless, drivers cannot afford mistakes and with the top seven covered by just 1.003s if they don't want to leave themselves with a mountain to climb tomorrow - remember Fernando Alonso stuck behind Vitaly Petrov in 2010 - a good grid position is vital.

Pole for Rosberg would be the German's sixth successive, a feat few have achieved before, the elite club that currently includes Senna, Schumacher, Prost and a certain Mr Hamilton as members.

The lights go green and Ricciardo leads the way, the Australian sideways as he applies the power storming out of his garage. Massa, Sainz, Ericsson and Stevens follow, as does Hamilton, the world champion already on the option rubber, as is his teammate.

Indeed, there a good mixture of drivers on the primes and options, some clearly feeling that the harder compound will be the main race tyre.

Ricciardo posts 43.401 with Massa going second, ahead of Kvyat and Ericsson.

On the softer rubber, Rosberg and Hamilton trade fastest sectors, the Briton posts 40.974 and the German 41.111. On the harder rubber, Perez posts 43.047 to go third, albeit 2.073s off Hamilton's time.

Grosjean (option) posts 42.956 to go third, but is demoted when Raikkonen (prime) bangs in a 42.700. Vettel, also on the primes, can only manage eighth (43.218).

Maldonado (option) goes fourth, leaving Raikkonen as the quickest runner on the harder rubber.

Alonso (option) goes eighth with a 43.187, his teammate Button the only driver yet to post a time.

Raikkonen and Vettel both go for another hot lap, both setting PBs in the first sector. Both however, lose time in S2. At the line Raikkonen posts 42.500 to close to within 1.526 of Hamilton whilst Vettel goes fifth with a 42.941.

Kvyat, Ericsson and Button comprise the drop zone along with the Manors. Sainz, Hulkenberg and Nasr are just outside the danger zone.

With 4:22 remaining, the Ferrari duo and Bottas are the only drivers that haven't reverted to the option rubber. Impressive stuff.

As Bottas switches to options, Hulkenberg goes third with a 41.996.

Late improvements see Vettel drop to eleventh, the German opting to come out again, this time on the option rubber. Raikkonen, now down in seventh, is staying put in his garage.

A 41.983 sees Perez go third as Ericsson is told he has a problem and has to back off.

Bottas, having gone quickest in the speed trap (210 mph), improves to ninth with a 42.608.

A late charge sees Button go ninth and Nasr twelfth, whilst Alonso reveals he has a puncture and pits.

Disaster for Ferrari, Vettel is out having made a mistake in S2 which means he failed to improve on his time. Unbelievable.

Onboard footage shows the German looking good until T6 when the car suddenly slowed though it's not clear why.

Quickest is Hamilton, ahead of Rosberg, Perez, Hulkenberg, Ricciardo, Massa, Raikkonen, Kvyat, Button and Grosjean.


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1. Posted by Von Ebb, 28/11/2015 17:51

"I have been an F1 watcher now for 30 years. I must say the current season is just boring. We have an F1 club where we watch the races on a 100 inch screen. Now no one comes except me and my son. The rest of the club are doing other things now. The V6 and the battery are just not anything we can relate to.
I have a Mercedes CL55 AMG , but the Mec F1 cars are too fast, its boring. Nico or Ham, over and over. I don't much care about either now. If they were off the grid next year the racing would be so much better for it. bring back the v8 or v10's

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