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Webber beats Vettel to take maiden pole for Japanese Grand Prix
Red Bull Racing
Posted By: James Allen  |  12 Oct 2013   |  7:11 am GMT  |  320 comments

Mark Webber took his first pole position at Suzuka, the 12th of his career, the first since Korea last year, beating his team mate Sebastian Vettel into second place, with Lewis Hamilton third.

It ended Vettel’s run of pole positions in 2013 and his sequence in Japan – he had been looking for his fifth Suzuka pole in a row.

However Vettel was told at the start of the Q3 session that he had no KERS. Red Bull’s Christian Horner estimated that KERS is worth 4/10ths of a second. The team had changed the KERS system on Vettel’s car after FP3, but the problem remained intermittent. He had no KERS in Q1, had it in Q2, but lost it again for Q3.

It is the first time this season that Webber has outqualified his team mate. Webber was in a new chassis this weekend, after his fire and accident damage in Korea.

“It’s a great track. It was pretty good Sebastian had a problem, so it’s a bit of a hollow pole position because he still did a phenomenal lap, but you have to take your opportunities when you can,” said Webber. “It’s a very nice farewell for me to have pole on my last time at Suzuka. I’ll never forget sector one today.”

Vettel played down his issues, “Congratulations to Mark, he did a very good lap. We did have an issue in qualifying, but I’m not a big fan of saying, ‘If we’d had this or that.’ We were P2 today.”

It was Renault’s 209th pole position as an engine supplier, a new record in F1.

The pace was fast, the change of wind direction was significant. There was a tail wind on the straights, which was a headwind through the esses in the first part of the lap, which made the lap times much quicker than on Friday.

Romain Grosjean and Nico Hulkenberg maintained their strong run of form with fourth and seventh places respectively.

In Q1, Webber set the pace, with Hamilton and Alonso also looking quick on the harder tyres. The Lotus drivers were obliged to take a set of mediums, as were the McLarens, Saubers and Force Indias.

Jean Eric Vergne brought out a red flag three minutes from the end of the session, due to a bizarre brake fire at the rear. A change of wind direction meant that teams weren’t clear on what the cut off time would be. After the red flag, Rosberg felt he needed to use a set of mediums to be sure, lying 11th as he was after his hard tyre run.

In the ensuing last minute dash, Grosjean went fastest with a very impressive lap on hard tyres ahead of Massa, on mediums, while Sutil was eliminated. After accident damage in FP3 and a gearbox change he will move back a further five places from the 17th place he qualified in.

Both Williams cars made it into Q2, meanwhile Marussia’s Max Chilton did well to outqualify his team mate and both Caterhams. “Since the August break my performance has really improved,” said Chilton.

Both Red Bulls, Hamilton and Alonso got through without using a set of medium tyres.

In Q2 Alonso continued to find good pace from the Ferrari, to edge out Hamilton, while the Lotus pair looked very quick on the hard tyres in the initial runs.

Vettel left it late and did a stunning lap 1m 31.2s, over half a second faster than Alonso’s Ferrari, while Webber was 2/10ths slower than his team mate. Grosjean got very close, just 4/100ths off Webber’s time.

Perez, Di Resta, Bottas, Gutierrez, Maldonado, Ricciardo we all eliminated in Q2.

In Q3, Vettel had no KERS and also made a mistake in Spoon Curve. Webber managed to beat his first run time by 4/10ths. Alonso was in third almost a second off Webber’s pace.

Raikkonen, Massa, Rosberg and Grosjean did only one run in Q3, also Button and Hulkenberg.

In the final runs Vettel wasn’t able to beat Webber’s time, while Hamilton managed to edge out Grosjean. Felipe Massa had only one run in Q3, compared to two runs for Alonso, but the Brazilian came out on top once again. Alonso starts 8th, as Rosberg and Hulkenberg both got ahead of him.

This could prove a significant development for Massa, who is on the look out for a new team after being dropped by Ferrari.

Meanwhile the man who replaces him, Kimi Raikkonen, again wasn’t able to peak in qualifying, ending up 9th, three tenths of a second behind team mate Grosjean.

Charles Pic, already subject to a 10 place grid penalty before the event, became the first driver in F1 history to have a drive thru penalty imposed on him before the race. Stewards were angered that he had ignored a red light in the pit lane for the second time and imposed the penalty, which means that he will have to drive through the pits in the first five laps of the race.

JAPANESE GRAND PRIX, Qualifying
1. Mark Webber Red Bull 1m30.915s
2. Sebastian Vettel Red Bull 1m31.089s +0.174s
3. Lewis Hamilton Mercedes 1m31.253s +0.338s
4. Romain Grosjean Lotus 1m31.365s +0.450s
5. Felipe Massa Ferrari 1m31.378s +0.463s
6. Nico Rosberg Mercedes 1m31.397s +0.482s
7. Nico Hulkenberg Sauber 1m31.644s +0.729s
8. Fernando Alonso Ferrari 1m31.665s +0.750s
9. Kimi Raikkonen Lotus 1m31.684s +0.769s
10. Jenson Button McLaren 1m31.827s +0.912s

11. Sergio Perez McLaren 1m31.989s +0.699s
12. Paul di Resta Force India 1m31.992s +0.702s
13. Valtteri Bottas Williams 1m32.013s +0.723s
14. Esteban Gutierrez Sauber 1m32.063s +0.773s
15. Pastor Maldonado Williams 1m32.093s +0.803s
16. Daniel Ricciardo Toro Rosso 1m32.485s +1.195s

17. Adrian Sutil Force India 1m32.890s +1.066s * 5 place penalty to take
18. Jean-Eric Vergne Toro Rosso 1m33.357s +1.533s
19. Max Chilton Marussia 1m34.320s +2.496s
20. Charles Pic Caterham 1m34.556s +2.732s * 10 place penalty to take
21. Giedo van der Garde Caterham 1m34.879s +3.055s
22. Jules Bianchi Marussia 1m34.958s +3.134s * 10 place penalty to take

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1

Funny how no one mentions that Webber’s new chassis is lighter than Vettel’s and then celebrate how he beat Vettel, without acknowledging the KERS of Vettel not working. In fact, people are celebrating like Webber won the championship, lol.

Whatever makes the sour grapes sour-er, I guess.

2

now that is an interesting comment K. please post your source vis-a-vis the chassis weights so that the veracity can considered.

some days ago i read an article somewhere on newsnow that actually stated the exact opposite although as i couldn’t find the article i prefaced my post with that info. i look forward to reading your response.

3

any hint of a ‘staged event’ would never be accepted by webber. i would think that webber would rather park the car than accept a gift from vettel, and rightly so.

4

Anyways… Sure we are all looking forward to another scintillating battle between the best drivers in the world. Thanks James for keeping us posted on the latest in the F1 world. Also love reading all the comments from all the fans around the globe. We seem to be going in circles though with all the rants about who is the best driver and what team is bending the rules(or cheating) and all that. I think we all probably looking for one of those seasons where one of the drivers win the the title against all ods. Someone who didn’t even have the best package in the field. We have had that and there will be more, don’t you worry.

5

Top performances of qualifying:

1) Felipe Massa. If there is something similar to a perfect lap, he managed that today!

2) Jenson Button. Astonishing peace through all sessions. This is his best track by far!

3) Nico Hulkemberg. Fantastic qualifying! His second best just behind Monza. Indeed noticeably better than Corea, and that was already pretty good!

6

Is Pic still racing for Marussia, or what? Again, he’s been penalised for running a red light in the pit lane after it was closed. He’s been given a drive-through that has to be served in the first 5 laps of the race.

Good luck getting that 13th that way!!

7

Is there a bet on how many places can Alonso move up after lap1?

8

LOL! Just like last year’s Monaco GP, Webber had to depend on Schumacher’s penalty to inherit a pole position.

This time, Vettel’s disadvantage gave Webber the pole. Nothing to be proud of. But I guess if Vettel gets pole again, some people may not like it.

Lets see what Jedi moves can Alonso pull out at the start line. LOL…

9

I sincerely wish Mark to make finally his 10th in Suzuka tomorrow.

As for Seb he will clinch his 4th sooner or later so if he assists Mark directly or indirectly that would be his great farewell to his teammate.

10

Now why would Seb help someone who he perceives as having sabotaged him before? And why would Webber want or need help from Seb? I just hope that those two are grown ups now, and nothing silly happens. They should fight to earn their keeps. Victory tastes sweeter that way. How the two behaved at press conference today was certainly a positive sign.

11

It is all so very interesting…

the currents here, especially those under the surface, not to forget to mention the wind on the surface.

I find the patterns fortifying the conspiracy theorizers position that KERS is somehow being used as a traction control method, without definitive evidence being left behind via the ECU.

The fans disenfrachisement by the Vettel domination, and Red Bull’s need to consolidate their position without any chance of somehow having any ‘special treatment’ of Vettel’s set up, somehow identified.

Of course people want to look for a silver bullet behind why the Vettel-Red Bull package is so dominant.

It is bad for the show.

I saw someone mention that both Kimi and Alonso have a spare set of unused tires; is this true? Sacrificing grid position for three more laps on the tires might be an optimizing solution, if the traffic issue is mitigated.

Some of the poackages in front will be slower and very difficult to pass, i.e. Hulkenberg.

I expect Grosjean to go for it, which is warning to the top three qualifiers.

I am interested to see how Alonso will turn his off the line advantage at this circuit, where to go (to miss hitting slower cars)?

What I’d like to see on the podium, Webber, Grosjean, Massa, rain of the unreigned number twos.

12

Wow, even without KERS the Red Bull is the fastest car!

Massa, Grosjean and Hulkenburg were all superb today, 2 of the 3 Lotus drivers next season.

13

Grosjean and Hulk keep impressive pace… Massa again quicker than Alo, I think same happened at the later races last year … More concern for Ferrari… Anyways nobody really know how 2014 will be, and to have Two GREAT racing drivers may provide an edge that Maranello needs to be in the game.

14
Alexander Supertramp

Ferrari isn’t exactly showing Red Bull skill on the technical side of the equation. I don’t believe they can really trouble Red Bull next year. Fernando and Kimi could have a shot at the title next year, but that will be because of their own skills.

15

How could RBR allow Prodromou to be stolen by McLaren?!

16

The question is – why would he want to leave RBR? Stability is everything, especially at that level

17

Isn’t Rob Marshall the head of aero at Red Bull, so this could be a promotion for him, one that otherwise might not be available?

18

Maybe he wants to get out of Newey’s shadow? Not being ‘The Man’ must get a bit wearing for a highly competitive person… Good luck to him, I shall be watching how his career progresses with great interest. Somebody has to be the next Newey, as Newey himself was once the new Patrick Head.

19

Maybe he wants to prove himself without Newey?

20

Opportunity to step out of Newey’s shadow and prove himself?

21

Ego? Pride? Job Title? Thinking grass is greener on the other side? Wanting to get out of Newey’s shadow?

Ahhhh…the secrets!

22

Talking to Ted Kravitz yesterday, it seemed Horner implied, while neither confirming or denying, that Prodromou left, he wouldn’t be able to start for McLaren for at least a year (based on being in the middle of a contract).

Prodromou worked at McLaren until 2006/7 (iirc) and perhaps going back with increased responsibilities, more money and perhaps a new challenge could all factor into it. Sometimes it could be as simple as some personal issues as well (not related to RB at all).

23

Bags and bags of money, I would assume.

24

Having the title as aerodynamics leader for McLaren F1 on your business card is also a pretty good bet.

25

RBR has the biggest bags! What just happened?!

Stellaaaaa!!!! ….I mean McLareeeeeeeeeen!!!!

26

I cannot understand why Alonso/Kimi qualify so low? If tires are an issue, cannot they change the driving style a bit to be like their team-mates (esp. Grosjean)? I know it is a bit difficult to change in the last few years of your driving career, but they must try something different. May be they are trying, but that is not working. How many years will they be giving Vettel pole position and they start 5 places behind trying to catch him in the race? If next year, their performance in quali is going to be like this, they can bid goodbye to WDC.

27

Why is it Kimi was 8 : 1 out qualifying Grosjean before the tyre change. Why is it despite this Kimi still finishes ahead on Sunday– how you set the car up for race day is what’s more important isn’t it

28
Alexander Supertramp

Grosjean is pretty quick over a lap and he needed more time to come to grips with the car than Kimi. I do believe however that Grosjean has thrived on the knowledge that Kimi is leaving and that Lotus will be his team next year. The way Grosjean has been handling the situation has impressed me. I also believe the likes of Kimi, Fernando and Lewis haven’t been performing at their very best because they have lost some strength to compete against Vettel for the big shiny prize. They are fighting for the smaller honours- 2nd in the WDC/WCC- and that’s not bringing out the very best out of them. Kimi’s recent quali performances were mainly his doing and not so much the set up. Sunday is race day and brings the racer out in Kimi. Loved his move in the chicane today!

29

Age, simple as that.

30

Maybe they will both end up like Prost. SACKED.

31

Not sure about Alonso, but Kimi made 2 mistakes on his quick lap in Q3!!

Kimi is just trying a little too hard to beat Grosjean in Q3, and is making mistakes.

Till this weekend, since Hungary tyres were not really helping Kimi. However, this weekend he said he had that sorted out & all through weekend Kimi & GRO were quiet close to each other, but Kimi’s mistake in Q3 didn’t help.

I think, going forward, we should see better performances from Kimi on Saturday.

32

Did anyone else catch Alonso’s comment, roughly; in Q3 the Bulls just push the turbo and they’re away.

My impression from the comment suggest he believes the Bulls have got something extra, perhaps the putative ‘traction control?’

I’m just reporting, not stirring OK

33
The Spanish Inquisitor

No, it was a generic comment. No team name was giving.

34

Just to also note that Mark weighs 75kg (very low for a man of 1.85m height) and Seb weighs 64kg (1.76m height).

So, Mark has to accelerate, corner and brake an additional 11kg in mass on every lap of every GP.

I just looked up most of the qualifying times for Seb and Mark over the past 3 years or so and it seems to me that, if they had been the same weight, Mark would have been on pole far more often than Seb. The times have always been very close but that 11kg additional mass in Webber’s car appears to have been a major factor in the results.

It will be very sad not to have Mark starting in Melbourne next year. He’s been a terrific ambassador for the sport.

Cheers,

Ian

35

Hi Ian,

To clarify SteveS’ point, the regulations state that the minimum car weight including the driver without fuel is 642 kg. Next year the limit will be 690 kg.

There are some comments that the Marussia and Caterham cars are not at the weight limit. Next year more cars+drivers are expected to be above the minimum.

The lead cars will be at the weight limit, to the variation between drivers will be minimal. The car weight is adjusted based on driver weight at the time, so the cars are close to the weight limit.

What isn’t the same is the centre of gravity. A lower centre of gravity aids performance on cars with aerodynamic downforce. Numbers on this are not readily available from teams in the same way as the 3 tenths per 10 kg of fuel. I’ve plugged some numbers and have come up with 0.1-0.3 seconds difference advantage for Vettel over Webber, but that is with several assumptions about the car characteristics and as to how it translates to lap time on the track.

Cheers,

Martin

36

It would be nice if F1 fans knew a little bit about F1. Every car + driver weighs exactly the same amount. Mark has to accelerate exactly the same weight out of every corner of every lap as does Seb and every other driver on the grid.

37

Well said. There’s been a lot of blatant misunderstanding of the ‘minimum weight’ rules recently, fans of the sport should have got their heads around this one by now. An interesting solution to the ‘heavy driver’ problem that’s being whipped up at the moment… Can’t remember who said it or on which forum, but how about driver+seat=(say)85kg, car weighs the minimum weight minus 85kg. Would that be a level playing field?

38

the weight differential does play an important part though in setting up the ballast to max out the balance of the car. this is where vettel has much more latitude and webber is penalised by being heavier.

i would also think that webber being considerable taller than vettel could cause some changes to the COG factor but by how much i wouldn’t know.

39

To add to your comment, it’s a pity that F1 fans don’t realise that although the cars weigh exactly the same, that additional 11kgs of Webber sits in the worst possible place for a car’s balance, ie the driving seat.

With Vettel, that 11kgs of ballast can be placed on the floor of the car to balance it more efficiently.

Thats why Hulkenburg has been mentioned recently as too heavy for next years regs.

40

That’s true but its also not as simple as that.

The Hulk is having trouble getting the top drive he deserves because of his height/weight.

Being lighter means you can put the 10kg ballast lower in the chassis giving a lower C of G which is always an advantage.

With tenths counting in F1 these days it makes a difference.

42

One for those who say Alonso does not admit it when he does not a good enough job…

43

RBR dominates even with KERS problems, that car is just on another level!!!!!

44

James, are you able to stay neutral, when it is clear through the home page of yous site that Red Bull is a senior sponsor?

It does not seem good policy to be helped by those than are being commented.

Please give us your thoughts, I think this matter bothers many.

Regards

45

Seriously? James’s credentials are impeccable. Shame on you!! 😉

46

Red Bull is not a sponsor. The Red Bull page on the site is sponsored by Infiniti.

47

If Ferrari would have built better cars in recent years then Massa would not have been beaten so soundly, and perhaps would have out scored Alonso over a year. Massa’s problem is not his speed over a lap, but his inability to extract the most out of a difficult car over the course of a race, which is an indictment on Ferrari as much as it is on Massa. If he goes to Mclaren next year, and Mclaren has a good car he will beat Button.

48

Meanwhile in dreamland…

49

Webber did not “beat” Vettel, Vettel had technical issues.

Perhaps celebrate that for once Webber managed to beat every one else in their inferior cars. Too often he cant even get 2nd behind Vettel.

50

[Meanwhile, in the garage prepping for Q1…]

Newey: Hey Chris, we’ve got Bernie phoning in again, can I hang up?

Horner: God, no! Patch him to my headset. Hey, Bernie, what’s up?

BE: Time to throw in the squirrel, Horner.

Horner: look, Bernie, do we really have to –

BE: Throw the squirrel in Seb’s cowl, Horner. The one that chews the red wires.

Horner: No Bernie, not the KERS wire again! Can’t we just throw the squirrel in the garage and use the peanut butter trick on Mark’s car-

BE: The squirrel, Horner. For Seb, this time. No substitutions.

Horner: [sighs] Oh, alright. Can we at least be allowed to use electrical tape to try to-

BE: No, no touching the red wire after the squirrel is done with it! It’s about the _show_, Horner!

Horner: [resigned] Right-o, then.

Newey: [head in hands, shaking his head in disbelief]

51

Hahaha! Laughing my ass off…

52

…lol. played out perfectly. So when will the script be complete for casting? Or r u thinking of a mocumentory?

53

Hilarious, well done. We need it more often 🙂

54

+1 awesome

56

Good stuff Mark. Did anyone notice at the weigh-in it seemed that many of the other drivers were really chuffed for Webber, coming up to him and giving what look to be very sincere congrats.

Let’s hope he can follow through tomorrow.

57

yes AJ, i certainly noticed the open ‘bonhomie’ extended to webber from all the other drivers. it was great to see and just goes to show that the other drivers recognise webbers talent…at the top.

58

Probably fair to say that the only people that don’t like and respect him would be members of the blinkered finger boy fan club.

59

Great to see webber on pole, no KERS on vettles car and suddenly we see power oversteer? Don’t see that often? Maybe there’s some truth in the KERS TC rumours?

60

And so every team on the grid is running traction control by your logic?

61

Kersus! I find this strange; very strange. Vettel has KERS problem and Webber gets pole. Is this something like the strange gear box problem Vettel had in Brazil 2011 where Webber won his one and only race of the year but Vettel still managed to hold on to second place?

Is there an element of WWE in F1 now? Newey is not in Japan which means definetely they are not expecting Vettel to win the championship in Suzuka. May be Bernie had a word with Horner to postpone the championship in the interest of sport, to increase viewing figures?

Also, let’s not forget, Alonso still has hopes of winning the championship!!

62

I can’t see it Rob. If Vettel wins the remaining races this year, he equals Schumi’s 13 wins in a season.

63

Yep, definately room for suspicions with RB shenanigans. the kers is the Helmet control box.

64

thanx for this perspective, it does clarify, especially the Newey not in Japan.

65

I really can’t see Seb playing along with that one at all.

66

Multi 21, Seb. Multi 21!!!!

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