Rosberg takes pole for Japan GP
Official winners announced at the Malta Classic Hill Climb by Thomas Smith
Mercedes driver Nico Rosberg put himself in the best possible position to widen his lead over Formula One title rival and teammate Lewis Hamilton by securing pole position yesterday for the Japanese Grand Prix.
Rosberg clocked a time of 1 minute, 30.647 seconds on his final flying lap at the Suzuka circuit to beat Hamilton by just a hundredth of a second.
“Things have been going well all weekend,” said Rosberg, who topped all three practice sessions as well. “We had good balance in the car, I was feeling comfortable and that’s what allowed me to put in a lap like that.”
Ferrari’s Kimi Raikkonen was a close third followed by teammate Sebastian Vettel, who takes a three-place grid penalty hanging over from last weekend’s Malaysian Grand Prix and will start seventh.
Red Bull pair Max Verstappen and Daniel Ricciardo qualified fifth and sixth.
With five races remaining, Rosberg holds a 23-point lead over Hamilton, who is seeking a third straight victory in Japan.
Hamilton will be looking to bounce back from the disappointment of Malaysia where his engine failed while he was leading the race.
“I’m happy with qualifying,” Hamilton said. “It’s been a week of a lot of work to get the car right and there were some big changes so considering that I am happy to be as close as I am. History has shown that you don’t have to be on pole here to win.”
Rosberg started the previous two races at Suzuka from pole position only to be overtaken by Hamilton.
Force India’s Sergio Perez was seventh fastest and Haas driver Romain Grosjean was eighth, just ahead of the second Force India of Nico Hulkenberg. Esteban Gutierrez of Haas rounded out the top 10.
This week over 40 local and foreign drivers raced in the Hill Climb by Thomas Smith at Ta’ Pennellu Hill, Mellieha. Weather and road conditions were both ideal, resulting in some excellent timings from the participants.
Taking first place was Michael Pace in his 1975 Honda Civic with a time of 55,825 seconds. In second place was Joseph Mifsud in a 1969 Hillman Imp and placing third was Clifford Debono in a 1970 Triumph Vitesse.
The Malta Classic weekend continues with the Malta Classic Grand Prix by Chopard. Today, packs of 8 to 10 cars take to the circuit in a thrilling race to the finish line, as the unforgiving nature of the Malta Classic circuit brings out the very best of performance by both drivers and their classic racing automobiles.
The winner of the Grand Prix will receive the coveted Malta Classic Trophy, designed and handcrafted by Mdina Glass, and a limited edition Mille Miglia Chronograph by Chopard, exclusively available at Edwards Lowell Boutiques in Valletta and St Julians.
New at the 2016 Malta Classic Grand Prix by Chopard is a delightful exhibition area in the Mdina Ditch, offering free games for children, vintage food trucks, cocktail bars, and even a vintage barbershop! A live music stage in the nearby Tomba Gardens will add to the event’s vintage vibes with performances by a jazz duo, 60’s quartet and swing quintet. A free shuttle will transport spectators from exhibition areas to the circuit, whilst those arriving in pre-1980’s classic cars may make use of the free Classic Car Park, conveniently located on the Mtarfa Bypass.
The Malta Classic is sponsored by Malta’s leading luxury and lifestyle brands, including Chopard, Mdina Glass, Thomas Smith, Shell, BMW, Sullivan Maritime, Farsons, Attard& Co., The Point, PjazzaTigne, Good Earth, Busy Bee, Airswift Couriers, Atrium, Billboard Advertising, Karl Borg Events and Alberta. This event is also made possible by the support of Sport Malta, the Malta Tourism Authority, Mdina Local Council, Rabat Local Council, Mtarfa Local Council, Mellieha Local Council and Transport Malta.
Some of those who took part in yesterday’s Malta Classic Hill Climb at Mellieha Photo: Rusty’s magazine