Daily Archives: October 6, 2012

Red Bull crush opposition in Japanese Grand Prix qualifying lockout

Sebastian Vettel and Mark Webber will share the front row for the Japanese Grand Prix for the first time in the 2012 season.

A spin by Kimi Raikkonen in the closing minutes ruined many drivers’ fastest laps, most notably Lewis Hamilton. Sauber had a fantastic showing, with Kamui Kobayashi and Sergio Perez 3rd and 5th.

Q1

Vettel was one of the few drivers who was able to get through Q1 without going on to the softer tyres.

After a crash in Saturday morning practice, Nico Hulkenberg sat out much of qualifying, but was able to get out in time to set a 1:32.828.

Jean-Eric Vergne has received a 3-place grid penalty, after holding up Bruno Senna on his final qualifying lap. The Toro Rosso slowed down the Williams in the braking zone at the final chicane, and will drop to 19th position.

Michael Schumacher suffered a scare, nearly getting knocked out of Q1 after setting his only flying lap at the end of the session. Nevertheless, he just scraped through on the hard tyres.

Drivers knocked out in Q1:

18) Bruno Senna – 1:33.405

19) Heikki Kovalainen – 1;34.657

20) Timo Glock – 1:35.213

21) Pedro de la Rosa – 1:35.385

22) Charles Pic – 1:35.429

23) Vitaly Petrov – 1:35.432

24) Narain Karthikeyan – 1:36.734

Q2

The top 3 drivers in Q2 – Vettel, Button and Webber – were the only ones confident enough to not go out at the end of the session, opting to set their fastest laps earlier than their rivals.

Paul di Resta was left furious, after being held up heavily by Romain Grosjean at the final chicane, though no penalty was given.

Alonso, Hamilton, Perez, Kobayashi and Raikkonen all secured their places in Q3 comfortably, while the focus shifted onto Felipe Massa. The struggling Ferrari driver appeared to be safe with a 1:32.293, but dropped swiftly from 5th to 12th, only managing to split the Force Indias.

Drivers knocked out in Q2:

11) Felipe Massa – 1:32.293

12) Paul di Resta – 1:32.327

13) Michael Schumacher – 1:32.469

14) Pastor Maldonado – 1:32.512

15) Nico Rosberg – 1:32.625

16) Daniel Ricciardo – 1:32.954

17) Jean-Eric Vergne – 1:33.368

Q3

The Red Bulls quickly showed their hand – Vettel setting a 1:30.839, with Webber 2 tenths off. Although Button managed to get into 3rd on his first lap, nobody could get close enough to challenge for pole yet.

Hamilton bemoaned a setup change in third practice, and could only manage 9th.

On the final set of runs, Sebastian was set to go even faster, but his momentum was ruined after Kimi Raikkonen spun at Spoon curve and brought out the double-waved yellows.

Vettel, Webber, Alonso, Raikkonen and Hamilton all failed to improve on their times, while Kamui Kobayashi leaped up to 4th place. Sauber’s pace was confirmed with a P6 from Sergio Perez.

A grid penalty for a gearbox change for Button promotes the Saubers to 3rd and 5th respectively. With the grid sealed, Vettel was able to cruise back to the pits for his 31st pole position, and his 4th consecutive pole in Suzuka.

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