Sebastian Vettel on pole for crucial Japanese Grand Prix
Scuderia Ferrari
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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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.


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.


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


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”


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.


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.


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:

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.

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.


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…


You got to love Kimi. Interview:

Q: What happened?

A: I spun.

No! Really?!?!? LOL. Brilliant!

Sweet and short. 🙂


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


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


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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


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.

Antonis Papadakis

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


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).


I wonder if kimis error could cost alonso the championship ??

The fia should allow the teams one more run in a case like this


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.


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.


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.


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


“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.


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.


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.


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


“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…


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.


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


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.


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


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?


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


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?

Tom in adelaide

Anyone but Vettel please…… :s


I’ve popped a few graphical charts summarising the session (not had time to add any commentary yet) at:

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 😉


so Schumi outqualifies Rosberg yet again

so much for the 43 year old being past it

Bring Back Murray

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?


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.


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? 🙂



“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…


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…


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?


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.


His name’s not Hamilton?


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.


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!


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.


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!


+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.


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.


FIA, you know


“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.


RB and Vettel back to dominant.

Aspirins for Luca, please !



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.


Do you think Kobayashi is likely to be retained. Good qualifying performances must come into account. ?


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.

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