Starting grid for the 2014 Japanese Grand Prix

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As the Formula 1 paddock was left reeling by the news that Sebastian Vettel will be leaving Red Bull at the end of the 2014 season, qualifying for the Japanese Grand Prix became something of a subplot to the main story of the weekend.

However, Nico Rosberg managed to keep his head as others tried to understand just what had happened on Saturday morning by securing his eighth pole position of the season at Suzuka, edging out teammate Lewis Hamilton by two-tenths of a second at the top of the timesheets.

Hamilton may have lost out, but he was happy to secure P2 on the grid after crashing out in FP3 and leaving his mechanics with a lengthy repair job. He did not require a gearbox change as many predicted, meaning that he does not have a grid penalty for tomorrow’s race.

Williams went under the radar to lock out the second row of the grid, with Valtteri Bottas finishing third ahead of Felipe Massa. Fernando Alonso qualified fifth for Ferrari as he begins to comes to terms with his likely departure from Maranello.

FROM THE STEWARDS’ OFFICE

  • Pastor Maldonado has fallen foul of the new engine regulations after using his sixth internal combustion engine (ICE) of the season, breaking the limit of five. He was handed a 10-place grid drop, but after qualifying 17th, can only serve half of it to leave him 22nd. He will carry the other five places over to the Russian Grand Prix next weekend.
  • Jean-Eric Vergne’s disastrous weekend got worse on Saturday when Toro Rosso also used a sixth ICE on his car. After qualifying 11th, he will start the race from 20th, one place ahead of Maldonado.

STARTING GRID FOR THE 2014 JAPANESE GRAND PRIX

1. Nico Rosberg Mercedes
2. Lewis Hamilton Mercedes
3. Valtteri Bottas Williams
4. Felipe Massa Williams
5. Fernando Alonso Ferrari
6. Daniel Ricciardo Red Bull
7. Kevin Magnussen McLaren
8. Jenson Button McLaren
9. Sebastian Vettel Red Bull
10. Kimi Raikkonen Ferrari
11. Sergio Perez Force India
12. Daniil Kvyat Toro Rosso
13. Nico Hulkenberg Force India
14. Adrian Sutil Sauber
15. Esteban Gutierrez Sauber
16. Romain Grosjean Lotus
17. Marcus Ericsson Caterham
18. Jules Bianchi Marussia
19. Kamui Kobayashi Caterham
20. Jean-Eric Vergne Toro Rosso
21. Max Chilton Marussia
22. Pastor Maldonado Lotus

You can watch the Japanese Grand Prix live on NBCSN and Live Extra from 1:30am ET.