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Posted By: James Allen  |  06 Oct 2012   |  7:22 am GMT  |  155 comments

Sebastian Vettel took pole position for the Japanese Grand Prix and with Red Bull looking very fast this weekend, he looks set to close the gap on Fernando Alonso in the championship.

It was Vettel’s 34th pole position, his fourth in a row at Suzuka, which puts him third in the all time pole position list ahead of Alain Prost and Jim Clark. Vettel is only 25 years old and has just Senna and Schumacher ahead of him in the list of pole sitters, the ultimate benchmark of speed.

And with Mark Webber alongside him on the front row, it showed that Red Bull is peaking at the right moment and very well placed to attack for the drivers’ and constructors’ titles in the final races.

It will be a big Sunday for Fernando Alonso, who will be mindful that his championship lead could take a hammering tomorrow.

But qualifying ended in anti climax as a spin for Kimi Raikkonen in the final runs brought out yellow flags and meant that the cars behind him on the track were not able to improve. This cost Hamilton, who ended up 9th and Webber, who couldn’t challenge Vettel and also Alonso, while Kobayashi appeared to have done his fastest sector passing yellow flags, en route to fourth place.

He set his fastest time on that lap, but his dashboard display showed that he lost 1/10th of a second in the yellow flag zone and the stewards let him keep his time.

Jenson Button was third, but will move back five places on the grid this moves Kobayashi to 3rd and, Alonso to fifth.

“After today I think I have a good chance of a podium,” Kobayashi said. “For me it’s very important, of course, for next year.

“But I have no worries for next year. I try to focus on my job at the moment…and I think I need a podium as well. I think this week is very important.”

The word has been for some time that a podium would secure the drive for Kobayashi and tomorrow, on home soil, could be his chance.

Meanwhile Vettel knows he is in the driving seat as this weekend starts to feel like the 2011 season all over again, “I’m very happy, the car feels fantastic around here, it came together well and we are in for a very good race tomorrow. This place is special. The lap I had in qualifying was just right,” said Vettel.

Red Bull and Sebastian Vettel went into qualifying with real confidence, while Alonso, who hadn’t started on the front row since Germany in July, looked to be on the back foot. He ended up seventh, behind Grosjean in fifth and Grosjean sixth. They both move up one place with Button’s penalty.

Lewis Hamilton had a difficult session, a last minute decision to change set up after practice backfired and the McLaren driver lacked turn-in en route to 9th.

Jenson Button carried a five place gearbox grid penalty into the session, while Michael Schumacher had a ten place drop for the Singapore Grand Prix accident.

Nico Hulkenberg was late out onto the circuit after an off in practice; both Force India drivers pushing a little too hard this weekend, knowing that they were under consideration for a Ferrari seat next year.


In Q1 Massa was straight away faster than Alonso, as he had been in practice three, Vettel went straight to the top of the times on his first run on hard tyres.

As many drivers, including both Ferraris and Lotus cars were forced to take the soft tyre in Q1 to be sure, Michael Schumacher cut it fine but managed to get through into Q2 on the hard tyre, having crossed the line with four seconds to spare before the chequered flag to start the lap.

Bruno Senna was blocked by Jean Eric Vergne on his hot lap and was eliminated; something for which he was penalised three grid slots by stewards. It comes at a very tough time for Senna with the driver market heating up.

In Q2 Massa again had the 3/10ths margin over Alonso, while Michael Schumacher went out at the end only on a set of soft tyres, thinking of the race and having lots of new soft tyres.

Vettel, Button and Webber did not go out for a second run in Q2, meaning that they had two new sets of soft tyres for Q3.

Having looked good, Massa failed to improve when it mattered and was eliminated following his second Q2 run, while team mate Alonso found speed.

Also eliminated were both Mercedes drivers, Maldonado, Di Resta and the Toro Rosso pair. Di Resta was badly compromised by traffic into the chicane, as drivers were queuing to start hot laps and he also made a mistake on his hot lap.

Nico Hulkenberg meanwhile showed some determination and resilience, getting into Q3 despite starting the session late; recovering well from his practice three accident.

On the first runs in Q3, Vettel did 1m 30.839, while Webber was 2/10ths slower, despite a mistake, with Button third. Hamilton was 6th after the first runs.

But Kimi Raikkonen ruined the climax to qualifying by going off track on the final runs, bringing out yellow flags, which really hurt Lewis Hamilton. Vettel pitted, Webber couldn’t improve and the drama fizzed out.

Only a couple of drivers Button and Grosjean were lucky to be a bit further behind and managed to get through after the yellow flags had gone in.

Tomorrow’s race will be a very strategic one with tyre wear and tyre degradation likely.

JAPANESE GRAND PRIX, Suzuka, Qualifying
1. Sebastian Vettel Red Bull 1m30.839s
2. Mark Webber Red Bull 1m31.090s + 0.251
3. Jenson Button McLaren 1m31.294s + 0.451*
4. Kamui Kobayashi Sauber 1m31.700s + 0.861
5. Romain Grosjean Lotus 1m31.989s + 1.059
6. Sergio Perez Sauber 1m32.022s + 1.183
7. Fernando Alonso Ferrari 1m32.114s + 1.275
8. Kimi Raikkonen Lotus 1m32.208s + 1.369
9. Lewis Hamilton McLaren 1m32.327s + 1.488
10. Nico Hulkenberg Force India no time *

11. Felipe Massa Ferrari 1m32.293s + 0.792
12. Paul di Resta Force India 1m32.327s + 0.826
13. Michael Schumacher Mercedes 1m32.469s + 0.968**
14. Pastor Maldonado Williams 1m32.512s + 1.011
15. Nico Rosberg Mercedes 1m32.625s + 1.124
16. Daniel Ricciardo Toro Rosso 1m32.954s + 1.453
17. Jean-Eric Vergne Toro Rosso 1m33.368s + 1.867 ***

18. Bruno Senna Williams 1m33.405s + 1.376
19. Heikki Kovalainen Caterham 1m34.657s + 2.628
20. Timo Glock Marussia 1m35.213s + 3.184
21. Pedro de la Rosa HRT 1m35.385s + 3.356
22. Charles Pic Marussia 1m35.429s + 3.400
23. Vitaly Petrov Caterham 1m35.432s + 3.403
24. Narain Karthikeyan HRT 1m36.734s + 4.705

* Button & HUlkenberg – five place drop for gearbox change
** Schumacher – 10 place drop for accident in Singapore
*** Vergne – 3 place drop for blocking Senna

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155 Comments
  1. JC says:

    Did the Red Bulls do their Q3 times on fresh or used rubber?

    Vettel didn’t look entirely happy, despite having pole. Newey and Horner also seemed a bit subdued. It got me wondering whether Kimi’s spin means the Red Bulls will be starting the race on older tyres than they would have wanted.

    1. Quattro_T says:

      Probably due to him worrying about a possible penalty for impending ALO on final lap in Q3.

      1. marian says:

        He has nothing to worry about, FIA supports him (look what happened in Singapore and this ridiculous “reprimand”)

      2. Bart says:

        So you think Vettel should have been penalised for Button almost hitting him? Was Webber to blame for Fuji 07 then?

      3. KRB says:

        I remember Hamilton being investigated re: that crash at Fuji ’07.

  2. AlexD says:

    100% that Vettel will take WDC

    1. Dave C says:

      Not 100% but yes the odds must be slashed for a Vettel title win now, they have literally found about 1sec on their upgrades on downforce sensitive tracks, also Seb’s in great form and has kept in contention throughout the season whilst the car wasnt right and also with all the bad luck like Valencia and Malaysia etc.
      It’ll be tough for Alonso to wrestle the title from Vettel now considering that Ferrari looks like its in trouble with pace and Mclaren are in a bit of a mess.

    2. Pasq says:

      It would be a disgrace if he wins it, he’s a great driver but Alonso has been the best driver not only this year but last year and what he did in 2010. This proves again that it’s all about the car or Adrian newey!

    3. hero_was_senna says:

      If the car is reliable and he doesn’t have any problems, he looks strong, but as they say in the U.S. “it ain’t over till the fat lady sings”

      Alonso will have hie lead reduced tomorrow, but it is still a lead, and as he said a couple of weeks ago, he can afford a DNF, nobody else can.

      Have to hope that Domenicali and Alonso have been saying what they have recently, to get the troops in Maranello working harder, not to let the Tifosi down gently.

      Either way, the man has performed brilliantly this year, be a pity for Vettel to win another WDC purely by having the stand out machinery.

      What a record
      2010, huge luck
      2011, dominant rule bending car
      2012, poor speed (Ferrari) and unreliable opposition (Mclaren)

      Still Alonso has been here before. 2005 and 2006 he had competition in faster cars closing him down and in MSC’s case actually pulling level with him. Yet he never lost his cool.

      1. Andrew M says:

        Vettel lost three certain wins due to car failures in 2010, I’d hardly say that was lucky…

      2. DMyers says:

        There’s no such thing as a certain win.

      3. Timmay says:

        She can only afford a DNF mathematically. Realistically if she has a DNF between now and the end its over.

      4. Shiparch says:

        Who’s she?

      5. Peter C says:

        Shirley it’s Alonso.

      6. Timmay says:

        Fernando Alonso

      7. AlexD says:

        Why can’t Ferrari just win? Really tired of all excused coming from Domenicali. Alonso is doing such a great job and it is so sad to see that it is not enough to win the title. He did not make a single mistake this year, was always there in every single race.
        But….this is not a championship winning car and sadly it is yet another yer when Ferrari is close, but can’t really crack it. 2010 was a disaster experience…the last race. I though that Domenicali will be out after this, but no…he continue and every year we have more promises and more excuses.

        But on a serious note…nobody is obliged to always win.

        I am convinced that it will be Vettel to clinch a third title. Not the best guy will win this year.

      8. Jimbob says:

        I’m no Vettel fanboy but come on… Name 5 ‘greats’ who have won championships without either a dominant car or unfortunate opposition.

        I’ll give you a clue.. Alonso, Senna, Schumi, Hakkinen, Prost need not apply.

      9. JF says:

        Don’t forget Hamliton and all other champs. No one wins without a top car.

      10. KRB says:

        Well, Hamilton didn’t have a dominant car (2nd best at best), but did have unfortunate opposition I suppose. Massa and Ferrari should’ve won that one, but didn’t.

      11. only1halen says:

        Senna won two championships without the best car in 1990 and 1991. The Ferrari 641 and the Williams FW14 were the best cars of their respective seasons.

        Prost would not have won the 1990 title driving Senna’s Mclaren MP4-5B and Mansell would not have won the title in Senna’s MP4-6.

      12. Jimbob says:

        @ only1halen…

        Both the Ferrari and Williams were unreliable. Plus, Prost only lost in the Ferrari because Senna booted him off the track in response to the year before! Hence, unfortunate opposition.

        Let’s face it, it’s practically impossible to win a WDC in a car that is not the fastest unless the competition are unlucky for whatever reason.

        This is why F1 is a team sport. People forget this. If the team\car are no good then no matter who the driver is they won’t win over a full season.

        Unless the Ferrari gets some serious updates this year I think Vettel will win – That is unless he gets unlucky or Hamilton gets Lucky ;)

      13. KRB says:

        only1halen, what’s your definition of ‘best car’? In 1991, the FW14 suffered six retirements (3 each for Mansell and Patrese) in the first four races, all of which Senna won. No use being fast if you can’t finish.

        The transmissions especially were a big problem with the FW14.

        The MP4-6 won the Constructor’s trophy that year, so hard to say it wasn’t the best car. It also had a 10hp advantage over the Renault in the Williams (710hp vs. 700hp).

        And re: the Ferrari 641, c’mon! The McLaren had a 10hp advantage over the Ferrari that year, and again the McLaren won the WCC. Berger finished ahead of Mansell in the WDC standings. I think both Mansell and Berger were very good drivers, but I’d say Big Nige was better than Berger.

      14. Nathan says:

        If alonso wins this title it will be huger luck than 2010

      15. Mocho_Pikuain says:

        If Alonso wins this title it will be huger skill than probably any driver ever before.

      16. Mocho_Pikuain says:

        If Alonso wins this title it will be huger skill than any other driver ever before.

      17. Sebee says:

        Why the excuses? Why can’t you guys just admit vettel is very good? Is it just magic that he delivers when it counts? I could sprint out to a lead in a marathon too. It doesn’t count until the finish line.

        And I’m sure an argument could be made that Alonso was lucky many times this year.

        If you blame Ferrari for.losing Alonso.the.championship with a poor car, why are you blaming Vettel for winning on when the right tools are in his hands?

      18. Sebee says:

        Darn galaxy and . next to space!

      19. Quattro_T says:

        Really no excuses only reality. He is good for sure, but not comparable to those consistently being “up there” even though their package consistently is only capable of starting from row 3 or worse on the grid.

        Currently the only magic I can see is that Webber suddenly (literally) went from outscoring the “very good” Vettel (pre-contract signing), to consistently being behind him – both in qualy and race (post-contract signing). The only reason I can think off, apart from “the team magic”, is that Webber have suddenly gained weight.

      20. Bart says:

        @ QuattroT – I love the way that whenever Webber happens to be a couple of points ahead, that’s “reality”, yet the majority of the time, when Vettel outperforms his teammate is “magic”.

        Webber hasn’t beaten Vettel over the course of a season since 2007… how is it not just reality that Vettel happens to be a good deal better?

      21. Bart says:

        @ QuattroT – I love the way that whenever Webber happens to be a couple of points ahead, that’s “reality”, yet the majority of the time, when Vettel outperforms his teammate is “magic”.

        Webber hasn’t beaten Vettel over the course of a season since 2007, and hasn’t even managed a podium other than the 2 wins he’s had… how is it not just reality that Vettel happens to be a good deal more consistent and/or faster?

      22. Bart says:

        “He is good for sure, but not comparable to those consistently being “up there” even though their package consistently is only capable of starting from row 3 or worse on the grid.”

        So, Vettel wasn’t on the podium in Australia, or Spa? He wasn’t still in title contention in the winless patch for RBR?

      23. Bart says:

        “Currently the only magic I can see is that Webber suddenly (literally) went from outscoring the “very good” Vettel (pre-contract signing), to consistently being behind him – both in qualy and race (post-contract signing).”

        Webber hasn’t had any podiums other than Monaco and Silverstone. He hasn’t beaten Vettel in any season they’ve been together. To suggest that it isn’t “reality” that Vettel is just faster and more consistent is ludicrous.

      24. Mingojo says:

        Well, the argument could be if Alonso and Vettel have a good car who will be on top? In my opinion it would be Fernando.

      25. Quattro_T says:

        @Bart
        Thanks for your thorough responses

        Regarding WEB vs VET

        I think if you analyse 2010-2012 more closly you may change your mind. I think you can clearly see that WEB has more than matched VET with exception of 2011 – the famous BED year. In 2010 WEB more than matched VET – He was on equal points or ahead of VET (total standings) in 12/19 races – only the “lycky” last race decided.
        In 2012, believe it or not, WEB has been ahead of VET more or less all the way until HUN (race 11). Somewere there he signed the contract. Since signing WEB has scored 8 points compared to VET, who have magically managed 43 and is now suddenly ahead in total standings with 33. Between then and now we have seen obvious signs that suggest (at least to me) that VET is getting “special treatment”, such as equipment taken off WEB and put to VET car, direct/indirect orders telling WEB to hold pos when VET is ahead, or WEB very clearly telling the world that he is being treated as a nr 2 driver. And these days it seems as it is taken for granted that WEB should support VET instead of racing for himself for this years title. Had he been on the same performance level as Massa compared to his team mate I would have understood, but statistics clearly suggest that have NOT been the case – far from actually.

      26. Bart says:

        For whatever reason, my posts didn’t show when I wrote them earlier, so they seemed to appear as duplicate.

        But regarding the RBR drivers, while Webber led the championship for longer than Vettel did in 2010, much of thiat was down to car reliability. If you look, Vettel’s car broke down in the first 2 races, costing him an early and clear championship lead, and also late in the Korean GP, when Vettel was about to retake the championship lead. Webber only had a gearbox change before the Canadian GP 2010 by contrast. Without this misfortune, Vettel would have beaten Webber by a much clearer margin (not quite as much as 2011, but still), and Webber would never, or rarely have led Vettel in the standings (leading at the end is the only thing that matters anyway).

        So, it is not “magic” that Webber has had a dip in form, because Vettel has proven time and again that he is better. Mark Webber hasn’t performed like Massa, but much like Button, doesn’t usually perform like their teammates either.

      27. Raymond Yu says:

        Hi quattro_t, if I may. I feel Webber is inconsistently god, depending on the circuit. Even if you looked back at the years before he was with Vettel, the post – summer combo of races, except for Brazil hasn’t really been good to him.

        I personally feel Webber only really transforms into a top driver when he’s happy with the circuit, at places such as Monaco or Silverstone

      28. Ghayth says:

        How about 2 dnf for vettel does that count
        Above all vettel showed what a great racer he is
        He put on great drives and passes this season

      29. devilsadvocate says:

        If you change nothing about Valencia except for the vettel retirement, if my math is right he would be leading the championship by 3 points (Alonso loses 7points an vettel gains 25).

      30. Bart says:

        I don’t recall this level of whingeing about “stand out machinery” in 2012 when Mclaren took 4 straight poles and 3 consecutive wins before now.

      31. KRB says:

        Maybe if one McLaren driver racked up those 3 wins. But b/c they split the wins, and DNF’d the other times, you didn’t hear it.

      32. KRB says:

        Well, Alonso lost his cool before the 2006 Japanese GP, accusing his team of not wanting him to win the WDC! If Schumi’s engine didn’t blow up, and he had been 2 pts behind going into Brazil, I would’ve liked to see how he reacted then.

        As for today, it looks like RBR is back on it, a step above everyone else. If that holds, then Vettel looks good for three on the trot. Things change fast in F1. I think many didn’t think Vettel was a strong favourite, even after the win in Singapore. And that was with a car that was probably the best overall, over the whole of the season, to that point. But it seemed that the McLaren was the form car at this moment.

        Who knows, things can change back ‘n’ forth from race to race. Fact is that the Red Bull car philosophy since 2009 has been centered on being strong at tracks like Suzuka. I was surprised to hear that no Mercedes-powered car has ever been on pole at Suzuka.

        A bad session for Hamilton. He mucked about on the setup, which I don’t understand b/c he was looking good on Friday. He’s got higher downforce but still has understeer, so no chance of a two-stop. It’s out of his hands tomorrow.

    4. Joe B says:

      Yeah, this morning made me feel physically sick as well.

  3. CanadaGP says:

    Checco starts ahead of Fernando. How do you feel now Luca diM?

    Fingers crossed for a Koba podium which should drive the long suffering but always polite Japanese fans into ecstasy. With Button’s penalty Koba just needs to maintain position. The battle between him and Perez should be interesting.

    With two intra-team battles ahead of him, Alonso might just find the gap.

    Where did RBR find the speed? I know that Suzuka has been an RBR track the last 3 years but I was hoping the outlawing of exhaust blowing and trick engine maps had eroded their advantage. Webbo time to prove that you are not the evil Dr. Marko’s puppet. Bring the fight to Seb so we can at least see a race in front.

    1. Dave C says:

      Bring the fight to Seb? More like he’ll be ordered to slow down the field so Seb can turn his engine down and cruise to victory, we shall see but Webber wouldnt be able to match Vettel’s pace anyway, Seb needs another 3 wins to snatch the title and this race is his best chance.

    2. hero_was_senna says:

      I would imagine that LdM wishes his engineers could borrow the Sauber windtunnel..

    3. marian says:

      Checco starts ahead of Fernando. How do you feel now Luca diM? This is thank to the yellow flag and “repriman” Vettel

  4. Jude says:

    Alonso has a way of moving through the field. The race has n’t even started and he is up to 5th already. RedBull will not be enthused.

    1. Bring Back Murray says:

      That’s a great comment.

      I might have gone up to 3rd though!

  5. AndyFov says:

    “He ended up seventh, behind Grosjean in fifth and Grosjean sixth.”

    Those Grosjean twins are a menace. :)

  6. Kelly says:

    James, what do you reckon the odds are on Jaime Alg having already signed to replace Kobaya ?

  7. Mustapha says:

    Schumi faster than rosberg again. Why do you have to leave???

    1. k5enny says:

      I would’nt discount the possiblility that Rosberg will outshile Hamilton next year…

    2. Steve Zodiac says:

      Couldn’t help feeling that Schuey looked just a bit like a man who could not be arsed to try very hard today. Perhaps he should stop risking his life now if his heart isn’t really in it. It’s a shame he’s stopping as he has been going well this year if next years car is any good maybe we would have seen something special from him.

    3. madmax says:

      9-6 in qualifying now to Schumacher and 6-1 to Schumacher in races both finished.

      Not bad for a 43 yr old.

  8. Doohan says:

    Didn’t Kamui set his time once it was green again?

    1. James Allen says:

      No, clearly not. He lost 1/10th in the corner in question, but sector was faster. He didn’t use DRS, he said, that was his concession to yellows

      1. F1addicted says:

        Worst. Concession. Ever.

      2. ketthalllotus says:

        When does a ‘lift’ equal a lift? Surely the whole point of lifting at yellow is to reduce the danger. It seems to me that having to rely on a detailed study of lap telemetry to decide if someone is a tenth slower rather defeats the object of lifting. Shouldn’t the difference be measured in seconds and not tenths? It should be visibly slower. I wouldn’t want to be a marshall, or a driver sitting in a stranded car, that was hit by someone going off who was only a tenth slower.

      3. Tornillo Amarillo says:

        We are in Japan, so it is understandable Kobi remains there.

        Kobayashi, Perez, Grosjean at the front, we should get along with that, they are doing a very good job.

        Is it now the eclipse of Hamilton?

        I think Vettel can have many hopes from this year championship. And next year Ferrari has already problems with the wind tunnel, McLaren has problems with the drivers -not having one of the best three- so it looks also promising vor Vettel and Red Bull, again. Can he got 4 championships in a raw?

      4. k5enny says:

        Mclaren wont have a top 6 driven next year..
        and they wont have the inside line on the 2014 engines — I suspect that they will be lying low for a few more years..

      5. Kay says:

        Good point, and I wondered the same always.

        I reckon they should set a max speed limit to the yellow sectors, rather than measure it by slower in tenths.

      6. Richard D says:

        Should reduce to 80% normal race speed for a yellow, but how many drivers ever do?

      7. zx6dude says:

        +1

      8. stuart says:

        james

        this is the second time in four races that Hamilton has went the wrong route with set up.

        i am a fan of his however does he rely on the team more than a top driver should for this? followed f1 for a long time and know getting set up wrong can happen but seemed after spa he was blaming the team for it.

        just curious as he is talking about developing Mercedes into winners but can’t see it happening if the above is the case. give him anything and i believe he will drive it better than anyone but develop it?

        title chance gone for.this year anyway

  9. Marc Aubry says:

    As you said James, the RB team seems to be peaking at the right time. They surely look miles ahead of the Ferrari in qualifying at least. Lets hope tomorrow won’t see Vettle just fly away, but for the unexpected , Fernando’s lead will be trimmed a good bit by race’s end. Not sure how Lewis ended up so far back, as he is usually a little bit faster than Jenson, it could have been much closer at the front had he been spot on. Pity I won’t be able to see the race tomorrow. With Fernando, Jenson, Kimi & lewis starting out of place, we should have a good fight behind the Bulls. Marc

  10. haven2 says:

    Rosberg is a shocker, there on a winner with him. good move merc.

  11. Kelly says:

    Alonso up to p4, if Kobayashi and Grosjean get grid penalties in addition to Button
    Even with this endless streak of good luck, I fear Vettel now has the momentum. First 3 title champ since Schu.

    1. AlexD says:

      I have enough of this finger and his arrogance. I can now understand how many people suffered and quit watching F1 when Schumacher dominated, being arrogant as well.

      1. Kay says:

        +1, and many many 1s.

      2. Rodger says:

        Who quit watching? Sad one-eyed suopporters like yourself and Kay? Hardly a loss.
        If you knew anything about F1 you would actually know that Formula 1 grew thanks to Schumi’s dominance.
        Just because you don’t like Vettel or Schu, and those around you, doesn’t mean the whole world shares your views.
        They are, in fact, 2 of the most popular drivers on the grid.
        Enjoy the finger – I’ll save one for you guys too :D

      3. AlexD says:

        Rodger, I personally enjoyed watching Schumacher dominance because I always was his and Ferrari fan and I will tell you more, I never liked Alonso and I was very happy when Vettel won his first race-he is very good as a driver. Who is really blind and one eyes is you.
        Pver time I realize that Alonso could be, very likely, one of the best drivers in the history of F1. I do not like him as a person, but there is nobody on the grid today who is as good as him. As a driver, his deserves the title more than anybody, but it is a team sport and you need a good car, so the best car is win take the tile.
        What is the source of your statistics? How did you come to a conclusion that vettel is the most popular on the grid along with schumi? Is it based on you and people who you tortured?
        I do not even remember whether vettel was ever selected as a driver of the day here.

      4. Bart says:

        “I do not even remember whether vettel was ever selected as a driver of the day here.”

        That just means the fans underappreciate Vettel’s driving in those polls.

  12. Dave says:

    I thinking Kimi could now win this one. If the Grosjean twins in fifth and sixth just drive round side by side stopping everyone else from overtaking them then Kimi could romp away to a massive lead :)

  13. For sure says:

    Quali Score
    Schumi 9 Nico 6.
    Just saying.
    If Nico is considered one of the future contenders (which he is) MS isn’t useless either.

    It would be interesting to see the gap between Lewis and Nico next season.

    IF they are very close, where does that leave for MS?

    1. chris says:

      Last year you could almost be sure that Rosberg would out qualify Schumacher. Not the case now. This team just cannot manage to improve their car. I think Schumacher is quitting because – a) he ended up with no choice and – b) the car/ team will always be midfield at best.

      1. Bring Back Murray says:

        “the car/ team will always be midfield at best”

        That’s exactly the reason why I think Hamilton has seriously short himself in the foot.

        I just can’t see them making the jump to challenge the top 3 teams on a regular basis.

        I guess time will tell

      2. madmax says:

        Completely agree, some history of this team,

        Originally BAR, 1998 world champion Jacques Villeneuve went there in 1999 and never won a race in 4 years. Jenson Button joined in 2003 and only won one race in his 6 years there before the year of the double diffuser.

        When the other teams had the double diffuser at the end of the year the car was a midfield runner again.

        The team under BAR, Honda, Brawn minus the double diffuser, Mercedes is a mediocre team.

        Was it really possible for the great Schumacher to just turn up and start winning and dominating the sport again in this hopeless outfit and in his forties??

        This hopeless team destroyed Villeneuve’s career, nearly destroyed Button’s and retired Schumacher and will probably put Hamilton in self destruct mode.

      3. Colin says:

        I guess he is hoping that the 2014 engine rule change will help propel Mercedes to championship contenders, and I am sure his management team will like the opportunity for their ability to earn more sponsorship commissions.

      4. madmax says:

        I think with Schumacher, he started to realise the team is perhaps never going to make it so he wouldn’t sign the 2 year deal they wanted but only wanted the 1 year deal.

        With that Merc went looking for someone else they could make a believer of their world domination plan.

    2. Gunner says:

      Nico? Future contender? Pull the other one.

      1. Colin says:

        I think Nico will make a great contender for the #2′s WDC along with Weber, Massa, and Button (I am assuming that Perez will do well and that Button will not get another BGP 001 car in his career).

      2. For Sure says:

        What makes u to think he is not a contender?
        Genius, u can see the future can’t u?

    3. Ray says:

      I think what you realize yourself (and what Lewis has probably considered, and Brawn has probably decided) is that Nico is a potential Race winner, but in no way has shown himself to be a title contender.
      Quick enough to be a solid number two.

      Whatever happens, it leaves Schumacher, sadly, retired.

      ;)

      1. For Sure says:

        Good argument much to back up.
        U missed the point. If Nico and Lewis are close, that means MS was on the same level if not better than Jenson

    4. olivier says:

      Whichever way you look at it, the message Mercedes gives to Rosberg is that they don’t see him as a Team leader. Solid number two driver, yes. Future world champion, no. Hence the signing of Hamilton.

      Having said that. Hamilton didn’t really outperform Button as we all thought he would. Either Button is a highly underrated driver, or Hamilton is not as a complete driver as Lauda wants us to believe. Fast? No doubt, if not the fastest. All round? Don’t think so. Not in the same way as Schumacher, Vettel, Kimi and Alonso.

      Shame Mercedes is denying us a battle between Schumacher and Hamilton.

      I am actually fed up with the media and the so called experts. Schumacher’s speech on Thursday didn’t sound convincing at all. It wasn’t that different from his first retirement speech. Has Michael been talked into retirement? Why couldn’t Mercedes borrow Rosberg for one year to Ferrari/Force India and give us one more year of Schumacher?

      1. jo123 says:

        It appears you have agreement elsewhere. http://wp.me/s2HWOP-419

        Apparently, he made his decision known to the team just 5 mins before the press conference.

        Schumacher received an absolute battering in the German press following Singapore.

        Hopefully he hasn’t made the announcement to save face and suggest to us all he was off regardless of Lewis decision.

        I was never a Schumacher fan in the boring dominance era with Ferrari – but he adds something to the F1 weekends now and it would be fascinating to see how good some of the newer drivers are compared to him – if only he could have 1 year in something more competitive.

      2. KRB says:

        Lewis talked to Whitmarsh on the Tuesday to tell him his decision, and the press conference was on Friday.

  14. Elie says:

    Wow that was another Seb special – About as good as it gets! . Just wonder if they can sustain that kind of pace in race trim .Ferrari are truly blessed though cause again due to external circumstances both Mclarens end up behind ! Although Fernando must truly be comcerned with RBR speed !.Should be a phenomenal race with the Saubers wedged in between – i can only wish Kamui the very best. Also Ford on Pole at Bathurst should make for a thrilling Sunday !

  15. McHarg123 says:

    James.
    Webber has surely got to play a supportive role now. Vettel is in prime position to pounce on Alonso. If Webber finds himself to be in front you would think he’d be asked to move over.
    Also
    Do you think Kobayashi is likely to be retained. Good qualifying performances must come into account. ?

    1. Luke Clements says:

      If, and its a big if, RBR are going to play by the same rules as 2010…then no, Webber won’t be supporting or moving over for SV.

      I might be slightly off with the number of races here, but with 6 to go in 2010, if SV had have supported MW, he would have moved over in Singapore & Brazil, and MW would have won the WDC. Oh, and I didn’t even mention Turkey!

      They didn’t play that game then, so I can’t see them playing it now…unless the rules are different now it’s golden boy in the lead.

  16. Heinz says:

    RB and Vettel back to dominant.
    Aspirins for Luca, please !

  17. Simon Haynes says:

    “He ended up seventh, behind Grosjean in fifth and Grosjean sixth.”

    I always thought Grosjean had a car twice as wide as everyone else. I guess this proves it.

  18. Quattro_T says:

    So VET was just reprimanded for blocking ALO. I do not get it. If he was found to have blocked/hindered ALO (his biggest contender for the title)on last lap in Q3 while himself being on a slow lap, why was not a penalty handed out?

    1. marian says:

      FIA, you know

    2. Quattro_T says:

      http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TZ8cnvSFQLo&feature=player_embedded

      He is crusing, on the racing line/close to the middle of the track, approaching the final chicane – that is normally approched in very high speed. He (and the RB team) know at this point exactly where ALO is on the track. VET should at that point have held to the right or been in the pits, if the intention was not to slow him down…So d**n obvious.
      Kind of reminds me of Monaco 2007 when another German driver tried to slow ALO down by parking his car in Rascasse at final moments of qualy, simulating a failure.

      1. Bart says:

        Vettel clearly moves to the left, which is away from the apex of the corner, as Alonso approaches. But hey, let’s overreact, and come up with ludicrous comparisons since it’s Vettel!

      2. Quattro_T says:

        Did you see the speed with which ALO was approching VET AND the chicane (look at 0:05)? Did you see (look at 0:07) that ALO felt the need to put the car closer to the entry just before turning in, instead of having it at the normal line further to the left (where mr VET was)? Did you know ALO was less than a tenth down on PER in 6th? You do the math. ALO probably did not loose tenths, but he could easily have done if he had (been human and) braked harder when approching the much slower VET.

      3. thejudge13 says:

        +1 Bart – What we don’t see and was commented on is Vettel driving off the circuit to conclude his avoiding manouvre when the camera cuts away.

      4. KRB says:

        Hmm, having watch the video it’s not a clear-cut block, that’s for sure. It’s not intentional, or reckless. Vettel had to keep to the left side there, or else he might’ve been trapped at the apex just as Alonso was turning in.

        Imagine it with the roles reversed, and see if you’d agree.

      5. Luke Clements says:

        Wow, having looked at the video, I’m very surprised that SV got away without a penalty. I’m sure it wasn’t intentional, but that doesn’t matter, is was a blatant block of a driver on a fast lap & he surely knew Alonso was closing in fast. He ballsed it up big time, looked like an amateur trying to get out of the way. I’ve seen much less, get penalties. Monza a few years ago, I think involving Alonso somewhere and the car behind allegedly blocked was so far away, it looked like an ant on the horizon!

    3. KRB says:

      His name’s not Hamilton?

    4. zx6dude says:

      agree. I must have missed something. Apparently for the same offence Vergne gets a 3 place drop, Vettel gets a reprimand. We need consistency. Or are there different types and levels of blocking? I don’t get it. I don’t care who the driver is, the penalty for the same infringement should be the same across the board, all drivers should be treated the same.

  19. Truth or Lies says:

    Momentum is with Vettle for sure, Ferrari failing to improve and Lewis set up mistake going to hurt here. Alonso has had great luck all year but no outright pace, compared to Vettle or Hamilton. Unless he gets faster or luckier its hard to see how he can limp to a third world championship this year. Shades of 2010 all over.

    1. Mocho_Pikuain says:

      Man, Fernando has the fastest race pace out there and one of the most devasting ever. If he gets faster he will break sound barrier…

    2. KRB says:

      If Hamilton can’t win the WDC, I would rather see Alonso win it than Vettel. Having said that, I’ve probably jinxed Alonso and The Finger will be on three.

      Time for the FIA technical delegates to hang around the RBR garage s’more? :-)

      1. Quattro_T says:

        @KRB

        “Time for the FIA technical delegates to hang around the RBR garage s’more”

        Judging from past experience, that would be a waste of time me think. Even when they have been found been running illegal eng maps och holes in the floor for a couple of races, all they got was a gentle demand to “correct” the situation. No penalties and taken points remained. And what happened to the story about hand adjustable ride height…

  20. Pete says:

    so Schumi outqualifies Rosberg yet again

    so much for the 43 year old being past it

    1. Bring Back Murray says:

      It’s been such a shame the last 3 years. The ingredients have been there but for whatever reason it just hasn’t happened for him. I wish he’d been given one more year to have another go.

      Ferrari anyone?

  21. Tony Hirst says:

    I’ve popped a few graphical charts summarising the session (not had time to add any commentary yet) at: http://f1datajunkie.blogspot.co.uk/2012/10/f1-2012-qualifying-summary-snapshots.html

    Comments appreciated there relating to:
    1) what sorts of things do each of these charts reveal about the session/what sorts of commentary/interpretation would you like to see/how might these charts help make sense of, reveal things that happened in, or hint at possible stories relating to the session?
    2) how could the charts be improved?
    3) what other charts might be useful?

    Thanks ;-)

  22. Tom in adelaide says:

    Anyone but Vettel please…… :s

  23. Cedricbaum says:

    This was without a doubt the most ordinary qualification session of the year so far and thanks to Kimi it was all over before the end of the session.

    Not sure if im the only one feeling that way but I don’t think it’s good for the sport when drivers in the name of saving tyres don’t get out on the track at all.
    I think the FIA should rethink the rules in this regard.

    The drivers lap times should only be valid till the end of Q2.
    So when the top 10 start the Q3 they would all have to get out on the track and get a new lapt time in. Not sure if I’m making sense?

    1. KRB says:

      I get your gist. That if no time is set, they would go to the back of the grid? How ’bout if they set a lesser time than their Q2 time, maybe b/c they’re just doing a coast-around lap?

    2. JCA says:

      What if it rains, your pole time could be 14th

  24. peruvian says:

    SO James, what ever happened to Hamilton?… I saw he was constantly locking his brakes, and in practice, he had the pace, but qualifyed behind his team mate… something is not right, could please give us an inside, thanks.

    1. Andy says:

      He felt something wasn’t right in P3 and made a massive change to the car before qualifying, probably the wrong decision!

  25. Dave Deacon says:

    Clearly JB was No 2 now LH is. So much for LH’s talent. Pity it did not happen earlier in the year. I predict that JB’s true talent will show forth next year in a BIG way… I also predict that he’ll win the WDC.

    1. Andrew M says:

      Yes, one qualifying session is clearly representative of their respective talent.

    2. Hal says:

      Don’t turn this into silly conspiracy theories. Hamilton had a bad day at the office (he went wrong with set-up). On the contrary Button probably extracted Mclaren’s potential. End of.

    3. KRB says:

      Button can only win if the car is THE best. Equal best to another car = no WDC for Jenson.

      1. Rafael says:

        “I’ve got so much understeer/oversteer” became Jenson’s regular quip in mid-2009 when the BGP001 lost it’s advantage, while in the same period Rubens picked up 2 wins (JB no more). Jenson’s a good driver, but I agree that often he’s sharpest only when he has the perfect car or rather driving one with a substantial advantage – which of course doesn’t come very often.

        On another note, Ferrari really do need to start providing its drivers with a quicker package (at least 2nd fastest). Surely Luca can’t realistically expect (demand) Fernando to win the title for them in what is only the 3rd/4th quickest car…

  26. Quattro_T says:

    Looking forwards towards an interesting race tomorrow. VET did not manage to win it last year, despite having a super package and (of course) pole. It should not be easier this year, when his package is not as dominant.

    I think the winner will be one with a very tyre friendly package – hence Sauber or Lotus. Had Alonso not been hit by bad luck (the 2nd Lotus), I reckon he would be a real contender for the win. From 6th it is much less likely, unless he make a start/1st lap similar to European 2011 or Valencia 2012. PER/GRO for 1st win tomorrow.

    1. Bart says:

      “VET did not manage to win it last year, despite having a super package and (of course) pole.”

      At this race last year, Mclaren were fastest throughout practice. So while RBR’s car was best over the year, Mclaren’s car was best in Japan.

      1. Quattro_T says:

        Ok, but at the “practice” that matters (qualy) VET was faster than both Mclarens. RB were compromised by high tyre wear if I recall correctly – VET had to pit early, joined back behind slower traffic…BUT happy.

    2. KRB says:

      The RB8 is w/o doubt the best car on the soft tires. They’ve figured out something about them the others haven’t.

  27. clyde says:

    I wonder if kimis error could cost alonso the championship ??
    The fia should allow the teams one more run in a case like this

    1. Glenn says:

      Unfortunately that would never work while you have submissives like Massa. He could easily park it on the track to allow Alonso another run at pole.

    2. Shah Alam says:

      Vettels lap was absolutely awesome, but sorry to see Alosno and Hamilton affected by Kimi’s spin off.

      Don’t know what is up with Kimi and Qualifying these days, he just can’t get quali day right like Grojean.

  28. Antonis Papadakis says:

    Neither in 2005 and 2006 was Alonso faster
    Than the opposition. Then we had the
    Singapore. So Luck has been very generous to
    Alonso. Luca is very ungrateful to Schumi
    And Kimi. They dearve more respect.
    After all they are the last 2 champions over
    the past 30 years for Ferrari

    1. KRB says:

      Well, in 2005 the no-tire-changes rule helped the Michelin-clad teams, and especially Renault. Renault had the reliabastest (i.e. reliable & fast) car, especially in the first half of the season. The McLaren was clearly the fastest car in the second half when their reliability was better (though never near Renault’s level of reliability).

  29. nns27 says:

    Breaking News from a reliable source
    Jaime Alguersuari to join Force India for next season.He will be either race driver(in case huld or diresta leaves) or reserve driver.

    1. Peter C says:

      Will ForceIndia still be going next year?

      Or even the rest of this year.

      Vijay Mallya is in serious money trouble, Kingfisher Airline staff have not been paid for seven months.

      Paul DiResta needs to sort something out soon.

      1. nns27 says:

        I think you need to listen to mallya Monaco Press Conference.

      2. Peter C says:

        Can’t find Mallya P.C. I’m thinking of the situation NOW, rather than 5 months ago.

        Planes are now grounded. Sahara is major investor, so all the advertising on the car comes from Mallya’s & Sahara’s companies, which are all shaky to say the least.

        Diageo want to buy Kingfisher Beer, but at a sensible price, once that happens the future for Mallya is not rosy.

  30. CanadaGP says:

    I would just like to see Koba and Perez with the same tyre strategies so we can see who is really better. How about a fairy tale Sauber one-two?

    With Webbo’s penchant for slow starts, the only hope not to see a boring race in front is if Kamui or Grosjean jump Webbo and bring the fight to Seb.

  31. Lars J says:

    Why do teams like Ferrari and McLaren take such a huge risc with going out only once and in the dying minutes, so if someone (like Kimi) spins off, that’s the end of the one shot. They could go out with time for two laps and call of the last if the first is a great run.

    1. Quattro_T says:

      I think ALO had only one good set of softs left for Q3, so I guess they wanted to use it at the optimal time ie be last over the line. Not sure if the soft will remain “good” for two laps on Susuka, as the track is hard on tyres, so I guess that limits you for one fast lap per set.

  32. Marc Aubry says:

    can’t understand why so many here seem to dislike Vettle so much. He is surely good at what he does. That he is not as good as so and so can be argued, but regardless, you don’t become WDC just by luck. If you were to be so lucky as to win one that way, surely not 2 and possibly 3 WDCs. In the row and by the age of 25 too. What is Vettle going to be like as a driver 5 years from now when he acquires the skill level of a present day Alonso? Open your mind to the thought that is might be special. Marc

    1. Nuno says:

      IF Vettel was not a top driver he wouldn´t be so criticised,

      Remember: Ayrton Senna was ultra criticised, and lots of people hated him, and the same thing happened with Schumaker.

      If a driver isn´t criticised, maybe he is not a great driver.

    2. snailtrail says:

      Your a true fan there – however look at it from the viewpoint that people really like a driver that does something special in either an average car or in difficult race situation – winning with the best car and being the golden child of the team.

      You can prove anything with stats – but it doesnt tell the full picture.

  33. Heinz says:

    Webbo looked p**ed off in the conference. Maybe he thought pole was in the bag… damn yellow flags.

    Alonso will be bombarding him with text messages and calls tonite reminding him that he is still very much in the Title hunt and that a win is on the cards should he wish to grab it

  34. zx6dude says:

    You got to love Kimi. Interview:
    Q: What happened?
    A: I spun.
    No! Really?!?!? LOL. Brilliant!
    Sweet and short. :)

  35. Ahmed says:

    No points are won on a Saturday, only Sunday. Perez and Grosjean with much better tyre degradation will be the ones to watch.
    If Red Bull can hang on, it will be a thrilling championship finish…

  36. ida says:

    Maybe the ones who didnt switch off were a bit one-eyed. If you dont mind your favourite driver getting great help from Max and Bernie whenever Mika, Kimi or Juan mounted a challenge. My favourites are…. …
    1) FIA declaring Michelin tyres illegal with 3 races to go in 2003 when Kimi and Juan finally overhauled the Bridgestone shod Schumi…Michelin have to redesign tyres and surprise, surprise shumi wins another title!!!
    2) At the French GP in 2002 schumi overtakes Kimi under yellow flags but the stewards rule that Kimi was ‘off the circuit” and schumi goes on to win another title
    3) After clinching pole at monza in 2001 schumi recommends no overtking at the first chichanes on grounds of safety……FIA agree…he wins the race!!!
    4) 2006 suggests the entry to the Aqua Minerale corner at Imola be straightened due to excessive bumps at the entry (i.e the Renault had an advantage there) FIA agree and schumi won the race!!
    5) 2006 Lets finish with a device that was legal for 18months that suddenly wasnt…..Renaults MASS DAMPER. Almost was ‘given’ an 8th title that year.

    As Fernando said after being penalised for blocking massa while never being closer than 103m to the brazilian “I dont consider formula 1 a sport anymore”

    1. Bart says:

      Kimi went off the road in France, since he slipped on oil. Or are you saying Schumacher should stop and wait for him to rejoin?

      To be honest, it’s hard to know where to start with your ridiculous accusations. Only 1 and 5 are even close to true. You’ve proven yourself as the most one-eyed person here.

      1. ida says:

        Schumacher was my favourite driver until i couldnt stomach how he gladly accepted the unfair penalisation of his peers by the FIA for his own gain. So im not one eyed, i was a fan and didnt like what he was turning into.
        So what does ‘even close to true mean” in reference to my 1st and 5th points???….Are you implying that 1 and 5 are half truths and 2,3 and 4 never happened??!! Expand on your grand statements Bart.
        I try not to write false statements because i know how much it irritates me when i read a false claim. However nothing irritates me more than someone who talks or posts more than they should about topics that they seem to be lacking knowledge of…..Because i watched the race weekends that i posted about i wont have to do any homework on the ‘ridiculous accusations’ that i made. Seeing that you like to put your two cents into everything i suggest you do some reading and you’ll see how ridiculous things were.

      2. Bart says:

        Remember, it is you who has come up with these claims regarding Schumacher and the FIA, with no actual evidence. It’s up to you to prove them when you’re challenged, and with no articles, videos or other references, you’ve failed in that regard.

        Point 2: Kimi Raikkonen ran completely off the road on the oil of Allan McNish’s Toyota. While yellow flags were waved, Schumacher had no obligation to wait for Kimi to get back onto the track, since Kimi was off the circuit. Have a look:

        http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7zW-Gq6SFIo

        Point 3: Schumacher wasn’t on pole at Monza 2001. Montoya was, and he took his maiden win. Especially considering it wasn’t only him that organised the strange measure, how was M. Schumacher rigging the race in his own favour by not overtaking in the first 2 chicanes? You also forgot to mention the rather sombre atmosphere of that weekend- 1 year since a marshall lost his life at the same race in a multi-car accident, and the first race after 9/11.

        http://www.grandprix.com/gpe/rr678.html

        Point 4: Again, where is your evidence that Schumacher asked for track changes to benefit Ferrari? The Variante Alta was tightened to slow the circuit for 2006, but slowing down circuits by adding runoff, adding chicanes, or tightening/smoothing corners is hardly unique to Imola. Or was every track change ever down to Schumacher?

        I said 1 and 5 were “close to true” since Renault removed their mass dampers, and Michelin redesigned their tyres. But at the same time, the FIA banning devices previously declared legal is not a practice limited to the days of Schumacher in red, and weren’t necesarily to “hand” him titles.

  37. ida says:

    sorry dudes, my post (34) was a reply to RODGER in the 11th post….

  38. JohnBt says:

    Kimi……”I spun”……”I don’t care”……LOL!

    Am enjoying every bit of this year’s championship.

    Whoever wins the WDC I just want it to end in Brazil with a frenzy! The short of breath feeling amongst drivers and fans.

  39. Dragster says:

    Gotta feel sorry for Alonso. Such a good lead he built himself up in Europe just for it to go down in Asia. Asia is where Vettels dominance kicks in. Vettel surely has the upper hand now. Alonso is good at moving up the field but with Vettels pace yesterday, nobody’s going to beat Seb.

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