Rosberg edges out Hamilton for Japanese GP pole

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Nico Rosberg will start tomorrow’s Japanese Grand Prix from pole position after topping the timesheets in the final stage of qualifying at Suzuka on Saturday.

Rosberg posted a fastest lap time of 1:32.584 in Q3 to edge out teammate Lewis Hamilton by 0.076 seconds, giving the German only his second pole of the season as Mercedes bounced back from its Singapore struggles in style.

Rosberg and Hamilton had ailed to P5 and P6 at Marina Bay seven days ago, but Mercedes once again resumed its dominance at the front of the field by locking out the front row of the grid.

With his first run in Q3, Rosberg edged out Hamilton by a narrow margin, setting the stage for a close fight between the two Silver Arrows in the final runs of the session.

However, a crash for Red Bull’s Daniil Kvyat resulted in a red flag with just 36 seconds remaining in the session, preventing any of the drivers from completing a second run, thus handing pole to Rosberg.

Valtteri Bottas finished as the ‘best of the rest’ for Williams, lapping four-tenths of a second further back in third place. Sebastian Vettel will start from fourth on Sunday as he bids to maintain his 100% podium record at Suzuka. The duo was followed by teammates Felipe Massa and Kimi Raikkonen in fifth and sixth place respectively.

Daniel Ricciardo was unable to convert Red Bull’s strong practice pace into a good qualifying result as he could only finish seventh. Romain Grosjean finished eighth for Lotus ahead of Perez and Kvyat, who both failed to post a time in Q3.

Coming through the left-hand kink on the run to the turn 11 hairpin, Kvyat touched the grass at the side of the track, causing his car to lose control and spear into the wall. Despite taking a heavy impact and rolling before coming to rest the right way up, Kvyat was unharmed, albeit a little winded.

The close battle in the midfield resulted in closely-run Q2 session that saw just three-tenths of as second separated P7 to P13. Nico Hulkenberg narrowly missed out on a place in Q3 after a late flying lap from Grosjean, leaving the German 11th. He will start 14th due to a grid penalty from Singapore.

Carlos Sainz Jr. was P12 ahead of Pastor Maldonado and Fernando Alonso, who told McLaren that he “cannot do more than this” as he finished 2.1 seconds off Rosberg’s fastest Q2 time, making the team’s current struggles clear to see.

Max Verstappen was unable to take part in Q2 at Suzuka after suffering an electrical fault in the dying stages of Q1, causing his Toro Rosso to grind to a halt coming out of the hairpin at turn 11. The Dutchman had posted a lap time good enough for the top ten in Q1, but will start tomorrow’s race from P15 due to his Q2 absence.

Yellow flags in Q1 caused by Verstappen’s stoppage forced a number of drivers to back off and abandon their final flying laps. This left Jenson Button in 16th place and out of qualifying as he finished two-tenths of a second behind McLaren teammate Fernando Alonso.

Marcus Ericsson managed to dodge the yellow flags and post a personal best with his final lap after spinning earlier on, but was only P17 ahead of Sauber teammate Felipe Nasr. Manor’s Will Stevens finished 19th ahead of Alexander Rossi, who failed to post a flying lap time in qualifying due to Verstappen’s parked car.

The Japanese Grand Prix is live on NBCSN and Live Extra from 12:30am ET on Sunday.

Will Power shows Flavor Flav what time it is in IndyCar: ‘This is the highlight of the weekend’

Will Power Flavor Flav
Joe Skibinski/Penske Entertainment

DETROIT – When Flavor Flav unexpectedly showed up in Team Penske’s pits for the Chevrolet Detroit Grand Prix weekend, Will Power knew what time it was.

So the defending NTT IndyCar Series champion dropped it on the man who made oversized clocks as fashion accessories famous.

And he used the kind of wordplay that was the pride of Public Enemy (the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame rap group led by Chuck D with Flavor Flav as loyal sidekick).

“I said to Flavor Flav, ‘You know, people today are going to have to ‘Fight the Power,’ ” Power said with a broad smirk, referencing one of Public Enemy’s most memorable and strident anthems. “And it was true! They had to ‘Fight the Power.’ ”

With a second place in Detroit, the No. 12 Dallara-Chevy driver earned his best finish since last September and impressed a musical hero who apparently attended his first IndyCar race this weekend and promptly fell in love with the sport.

After being interviewed by NBC Sports’ Kevin Lee during the Peacock qualifying broadcast Saturday, Flavor Flav made the rounds. He met with Roger Penske in Team Penske’s at-track headquarters and also ran into Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer (who was at the track Saturday).

“I have a great picture of Roger Penske, the governor and Flavor Flav,” Detroit Grand Prix chairman Bud Denker said. “It’s a great one. I’ll cherish that one for a long time. It’s pretty precious.”

With the Detroit GP holding nightly free concerts in Hart Plaza inside the race course, Flav made an impromptu appearance to freestyle at Big Boi’s show Friday before also showing up during Steve Aoki’s Saturday night set.

He then rode with Power and his wife, Liz, in a pickup truck around the 1.645-mile street course during driver introductions Sunday morning.

Flav was wearing a red No. 12 Will Power shirt that the defending series champion believes was purchased at a track merchandise trailer.

“That is the highlight of the weekend,” he said. “Flavor Flav was wearing my shirt, man.”

It was a dream come true for the two-time IndyCar champion and 2018 Indy 500 winner. Power, 42, grew up listening to Public Enemy with his buddies in Toowoomba, Australia, and they went nuts when he posted photos with Flavor Flav to his personal Facebook page.

“My friends are like, ‘Dude, you should just quit racing now. You have made it to the top,’ ” Power said. “We all listened to Public Enemy, and they would never believe that I actually would be hanging out with Flavor Flav. That is nuts. I’ll have to go Vegas to hang out with him. Maybe we’ll do a rap together.”

“Yeeaaah, boy!” third-place finisher Felix Rosenqvist, who apparently gave “It Takes a Nation of Millions To Hold Us Back” a few spins while growing up in Sweden, chimed in during the postrace news conference.

The only disappointment for Power was coming up 1.1843 seconds short of beating Alex Palou.

Flav had promised to celebrate on the podium if Power had won the race.

“He is the most positive dude you will ever meet,” Power said. “Pretty cool experience. Pretty cool to put it on your personal Facebook.

“All your friends that you went to school with, they’re like, ‘Man this dude is big-time, he’s hanging out with Flavor Flav. ‘I sat next to Ice-T at dinner. I have also had dinner with Slash from Guns N’ Roses. I wish I got videos of those ones as well so I could put it on the personal Facebook

“No one cares about race cars or that I won the Indy 500. It’s like, ‘You had dinner with Slash? You know Flavor Flav?’ Yeah!”

Power already has in mind some future musical guests he’d like to meet, starting with another of Detroit’s own.

“I’m more of a ’90s rap guy, but if I met Eminem, that would also be epic,” Power said. “Ice Cube’s the one, man. If I could meet Ice Cube or Snoop Dogg in Long Beach. Why doesn’t someone bring them to Long Beach? Maybe they should have an Ice Cube day. That would be dope.”