Tag Archives: Japanese GP

Vettel unfazed by first lap incidents to dominate Suzuka

Sebastian Vettel has become the first back-to-back winner of the 2012 season, taking an easy victory at the Japanese Grand Prix.

Championship leader Fernando Alonso was elminated on the first lap after a clash with Kimi Raikkonen, while several other drivers’ races were ruined. Lewis Hamilton struggled to a 5th placed finish, while Felipe Massa and Kamui Kobayashi both impressed. Here is what happened:

By the first lap, the championship battle had taken a massive twist, with Fernando Alonso pointing backwards and out of the race. Replays showed that the Ferrari made contact with Kimi Raikkonen, and spun in front of the entire field, luckily avoiding another accident.

Romain Grosjean, Bruno Senna and Mark Webber all crawled back to the pits after a chaotic first lap, and the safety car was deployed.

At the restart, Vettel continued to lead the race, while he was now challenged by Kamui Kobayashi and Jenson Button. Sergio Perez tried a move on Kimi Raikkonen at the first corner, but was squeezed out and dropped to 7th place.

After making a mistake with his setup in qualifying, Lewis Hamilton was 6th, and struggling to hold off the charging Sauber. By lap 6, Perez put a brave move at the hairpin to get past the driver he will replace next season.

While the Alonso/Raikkonen crash was clear for all to see, the Grosjean/Webber incident was more controversial. Within a few laps, the stewards had decided that Romain was at fault, handing him a 10 second stop/go penalty, dropping him to the bottom of the field.

After an action-packed opening stint, Button, Raikkonen and Hulkenberg all pitted for the harder tyre on lap 14. Kamui Kobayashi pitted a lap later, keeping a slim margin over Button behind. Kimi, meanwhile, exited the pits just behind Jean-Eric Vergne and Heikki Kovalainen, and was forced to pick them off to gain clean air.

By the end of the first round of stops, Button began to report a gearbox issue, but his team encouraged him to keep pushing. Felipe Massa, almost invisible to the rest of the field, emerged from his stop in 2nd place.

Sergio Perez tried a second move on Lewis Hamilton around the outside of the hairpin, but misjudged braking left him beached in the gravel trap and out of the race.

Lewis was free of the chasing Sauber, but within several laps he was then holding off the Force India of Nico Hulkenberg. While Hamilton bemoaned his setup, Nico was concerned about tyre wear, as the two ran closely lap after lap.

Both Hamilton and Kimi Raikkonen pitted within a lap of each other, and the two tussled for position at the first corner, with the McLaren just moving into 5th position.

Not much changed at the second stop, with the majority of drivers taking on the hard tyres until the end of the race. Further back, Senna and Grosjean, who had both been penalised for first lap incidents, began to battle away, with Bruno eventually taking the Lotus at 130R.

Entering the closing laps, Kamui Kobayashi’s podium finish was under threat, as Button began to pressurise the Sauber. With a few laps to go, the McLaren closed the gap to a single second, but Kamui bravely held on to take his first ever podium finish.

Up front, Vettel was completely unchallenged to take his third win of 2012, and closes within 4 points of Fernando Alonso. Massa took an impressive 2nd place, which will help massively for his 2013 hopes, but the biggest cheer was saved for local hero Kobayashi.

Button and Hamilton took 4th and 5th, while Raikkonen was 6th, and still quietly in contention for the world championship. Mark Webber recovered to take 9th, while Daniel Ricciardo held off Michael Schumacher for the final point.

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.

Japanese Grand Prix practice: Webber back on top, with Hamilton close behind

After two dismal showings, Mark Webber appears to be getting back on top of his game, leading Friday practice for the Japanese Grand Prix.

After extensive re-surfacing on the majority of the track over the winter, the times tumbled throughout both sessions, and a late time on the softer time put the Red Bull on top.

First practice

Lewis Hamilton was the first driver to set a fast lap, and spent most of the session battling against Webber and teammate Jenson Button.

A 1:34.507 was enough to put Jenson on top, with Lewis slotting in 2 tenths of a second behind.

Nico Rosberg’s best lap was good enough for 4th, but he soon pulled over at the Esses with an unspecified technical problem. Despite announcing his retirement yesterday, there was no drop-off in pace from Michael Schumacher, who was only 0.06 seconds off Rosberg.

Local favourite Kamui Kobayashi pleased the crowd with 6th, despite nearly losing the car at the exit of the Spoon curve. Fernando Alonso ran with high fuel loads in the morning, and was 11th.

Giedo van der Garde made his second appearance in a Caterham, taking 23rd, over a second off Vitaly Petrov.

Times from FP1:

 1.  Jenson Button         McLaren-Mercedes      1:34.507           20
 2.  Lewis Hamilton        McLaren-Mercedes      1:34.740  +0.233   26
 3.  Mark Webber           Red Bull-Renault      1:34.856  +0.349   24
 4.  Nico Rosberg          Mercedes              1:35.059  +0.552   18
 5.  Michael Schumacher    Mercedes              1:35.112  +0.615   20
 6.  Kamui Kobayashi       Sauber-Ferrari        1:35.199  +0.692   27
 7.  Felipe Massa          Ferrari               1:35.283  +0.776   24
 8.  Paul di Resta         Force India-Mercedes  1:35.474  +0.967   22
10.  Pastor Maldonado      Williams-Renault      1:35.478  +0.971   24
11.  Fernando Alonso       Ferrari               1:35.484  +0.977   26
12.  Sergio Perez          Sauber-Ferrari        1:35.584  +1.077   24
13.  Kimi Raikkonen        Lotus-Renault         1:35.691  +1.184   22
14.  Romain Grosjean       Lotus-Renault         1:35.724  +1.217   21
15.  Daniel Ricciardo      Toro Rosso-Ferrari    1:36.123  +1.616   19
16.  Jean-Eric Vergne      Toro Rosso-Ferrari    1:36.222  +1.715   25
17.  Sebastian Vettel      Red Bull-Renault      1:36.366  +1.859   23
18.  Valterri Bottas       Williams-Renault      1:36.389  +1.882   24
19.  Timo Glock            Marussia-Cosworth     1:37.716  +3.209   17 
20.  Vitaly Petrov         Caterham-Renault      1:38.295  +3.788   23
21.  Charles Pic           Marussia-Cosworth     1:38.616  +4.109   25
22.  Narain Karthikeyan    HRT-Cosworth          1:39.043  +4.536   25
23.  Giedo van der Garde   Caterham-Renault      1:39.374  +4.867   22
24.  Pedro de la Rosa      HRT-Cosworth          1:39.688  +5.181   19

Second practice

After a fuel-laden run in FP1, Sebastian Vettel was battling at the top again in FP2. He, along with Romain Grosjean, Jenson Button, Lewis Hamilton and Mark Webber all had moments on top of the timesheets.

Paul di Resta caused the first red flag of the weekend, spinning into Spoon curve and hitting the barriers. That move was replicated by Michael Schumacher in the closing stages, with similar results.

Kimi Raikkonen suffered a KERS failure while out on track, disrupting his running and leaving him 14th.

Vitaly Petrov had a scare at Turn 1, after his Caterham’s rear wing came off, but luckily he managed to stop the car without slamming into the tyre wall.

Times from FP2:

 1.  Mark Webber           Red Bull-Renault      1:32.493           34
 2.  Lewis Hamilton        McLaren-Mercedes      1:32.707  +0.214   32
 3.  Sebastian Vettel      Red Bull-Renault      1:32.836  +0.343   37
 4.  Nico Hulkenberg       Force India-Mercedes  1:32.987  +0.494   30
 5.  Fernando Alonso       Ferrari               1:33.093  +0.600   28
 6.  Romain Grosjean       Lotus-Renault         1:33.107  +0.614   35
 7.  Jenson Button         McLaren-Mercedes      1:33.349  +0.856   22
 8.  Bruno Senna           Williams-Renault      1:33.499  +1.006   35
 9.  Felipe Massa          Ferrari               1:33.614  +1.121   32
10.  Michael Schumacher    Mercedes              1:33.750  +1.257   13
11.  Nico Rosberg          Mercedes              1:33.866  +1.373   19
12.  Sergio Perez          Sauber-Ferrari        1:33.903  +1.410   36
13.  Kamui Kobayashi       Sauber-Ferrari        1:33.983  +1.490   33
14.  Kimi Raikkonen        Lotus-Renault         1:34.291  +1.798   12
15.  Pastor Maldonado      Williams-Renault      1:34.300  +1.807   33
16.  Daniel Ricciardo      Toro Rosso-Ferrari    1:34.863  +2.370   32
17.  Jean-Eric Vergne      Toro Rosso-Ferrari    1:35.080  +2.587   34
18.  Heikki Kovalainen     Caterham-Renault      1:35.711  +3.218   41
19.  Vitaly Petrov         Caterham-Renault      1:35.870  +3.377   37
20.  Timo Glock            Marussia-Cosworth     1:36.194  +3.701   32
21.  Charles Pic           Marussia-Cosworth     1:36.636  +4.143   28
22.  Pedro de la Rosa      HRT-Cosworth          1:37.342  +4.849   30
23.  Narain Karthikeyan    HRT-Cosworth          1:37.701  +5.208   35
24.  Paul di Resta         Force India-Mercedes  N/A                 2

Schumacher handed 10-place grid penalty for Suzuka

Michael Schumacher has been given a 10-place penalty for the Japanese Grand Prix in two weeks time.

Schumacher caused the second safety car period of the Singapore GP, after locking up and slamming into Jean-Eric Vergne, taking both drivers on the spot.

This is the second time Schumacher has made such a blunder this year. The first was in Barcelona, where the Mercedes driver took out Bruno Senna during braking at turn 1.

The stewards noted that Schumacher had misjudged his braking, due to his brakes being cooler after the previous safety car stint:

"The driver admitted the collision was his error due to the failure to anticipate 
the braking performance
of the car with lower tyre grip following a safety car period.

The penalty takes into account that this is the second similar offence by the 
driver this season."

Japanese Grand Prix stats and facts

Button took his first win in the dry for McLaren

Button took his first win in the dry for McLaren

Today Sebastian Vettel has become the sport’s youngest ever Formula 1 back-to-back world champion, at the age of 24 years and 98 days. Here are the statistics from this weekend:

  • Jenson Button took the 12th win of his career, as well as his 6th fastest lap. It was the first ever victory he has ever taken in the dry for McLaren.
  • Vettel continued his crushing form, taking his 16th podium finish in 17 races. He is now absolutely certain to break the Formula 1 record for most points scored in a season.
  • He also took his 27th pole position out of 77 races – a better ratio than Michael Schumacher. It is also the second time this year that Sebastian has scored 5 consecutive pole positions.
  • Michael Schumacher led a lap for the first time since the 2006 Japanese Grand Prix, and the 141st time he has done so. He has also become the oldest driver to lead a lap
  • Since this style of article hasn’t been updated recently, there’s one stat I missed a while back – Lewis Hamilton has broken the record for most penalties in a season, with 6 so far.
  • While Red Bull recorded their 35th pole position, McLaren took their 147th fastest lap and 173rd race win.
  • After a string of shocking results, Lewis Hamilton has now gone without a podium finish since the Nurburgring.
  • Vettel is the 9th driver in F1 history to take back-to-back drivers’ championships, following the likes of Juan Manuel Fangio, Jack Brabham, Alain Prost, Ayrton Senna, Alain Prost, Mika Hakkinen, Michael Schumacher and Fernando Alonso.
  • He is only the second world champion from Germany, yet they have 9 titles between them. This is one more than Brazil, and 5 less than Great Britain.
  • Pirelli have now supplied tyres to 6 world champions, the most recent one before Vettel being Juan Manuel Fangio in 1957.
  • Button’s victory ensures McLaren took their 9th victory in 27 races at Suzuka, although they previously hadn’t won here since 2005 with Kimi Raikkonen.
  • The next race in Korea will be contested with 13 world championship titles between the drivers – the highest ever. It will also be the first time since the 1991 Australian Grand Prix that 3 double world champions (Schumacher, Alonso, Vettel) will contest a race together.
  • Finally, to end with a strange stat – In very similar fashion, the pole sitter for the 2000 Japanese Grand Prix (Schumacher) (also the title decider at the time) was also 0.009 seconds ahead of the contesting McLaren (Mika Hakkinen) in 2nd place.

Points standings after Japanese Grand Prix

Driver Standings

Driver Points
1 Sebastian Vettel 324
2 Jenson Button 210
3 Fernando Alonso 202
4 Mark Webber 194
5 Lewis Hamilton 178
6 Felipe Massa 90
7 Nico Rosberg 63
8 Michael Schumacher 60
9 Vitaly Petrov 36
10 Nick Heidfeld 34
11 Adrian Sutil 28
12 Kamui Kobayashi 27
13 Paul di Resta 20
14 Jaime Alguersuari 16
15 Sergio Perez 13
16 Sebastien Buemi 13
17 Rubens Barrichello 4
18 Bruno Senna 2
19 Pastor Maldonado 1
20 Pedro de la Rosa 0
21 Jarno Trulli 0
22 Heikki Kovalainen 0
23 Vitantonio Liuzzi 0
24 Jerome D’Ambrosio 0
25 Timo Glock 0
26 Narain Karthikeyan 0
27 Daniel Ricciardo 0
28 Karun Chandhok 0

Constructor Standings

Team Points
1 Red Bull-Renault 518
2 McLaren-Mercedes 388
3 Ferrari 292
4 Mercedes GP 123
5 Renault 72
6 Force India-Mercedes 48
7 Sauber-Ferrari 40
8 Toro Rosso-Ferrari 29
9 Williams-Cosworth 5
10 Lotus-Cosworth 0
11 HRT-Cosworth 0
12 Virgin-Cosworth 0

Button wins, while Vettel seals title in Suzuka

Vettel retains his lead, while the McLarens switch places

Vettel retains his lead, while the McLarens switch places

Sebastian Vettel is the new 2011 Formula 1 world champion!

The German driver finished 3rd in today’s Japanese Grand Prix, with Jenson Button winning the race, ahead of Fernando Alonso. Vettel lost the lead at the second round of pit stops, then fell behind the Ferrari later on. However, with no obligation to race for the win, he calmly sat back and clinched his second world title. Here is the full report:

At the start, Button made the best getaway, but was blocked by the Red Bull in front. This allowed Lewis Hamilton to sweep around the outside of Turn 1 and take 2nd place. Local hero Kamui Kobayashi slipped to 12th.

However, Button was less than pleased with the German’s move, and was complaining to his team for a penalty. Fernando Alonso easily moved past teammate Felipe Massa for 4th place.

While Lewis clung on to Vettel at the start, he appeared to slow with a slow puncture on Lap 9. He pitted, releasing Button to catch the Red Bull.

Buemi's race ends in the gravel trap

Buemi's race ends in the gravel trap

Sebastian pitted on Lap 10, while Button and Alonso picked up the pace. Both cars, plus Mark Webber, all stopped the following lap. Once the running order calmed down, it became clear that Hamilton had lost two places from his tyre problems.

Sebastien Buemi became the first retirement of the day, as a faulty wheel came off during his pit stop, and the Toro Rosso coasted to a halt in the gravel trap.

The gap between first and second was only 2 seconds, while the top 6 were separated by just 9 seconds. Oddly enough, it soon became apparent that Lewis Hamilton was again struggling with his tyres, allowing Felipe Massa and Mark Webber to give chase behind.

Vettel’s tyres wore off quicker than expected, with both Red Bulls pitting on Lap 20 – with only a few seconds between each pit stop. Jenson followed the same strategy, and emerged just ahead of the championship leader.

Within a few laps, the safety car was deployed. As Felipe Massa tried a move on Lewis Hamilton at the final chicane, Lewis squeezed the Ferrari and broke off a piece of Massa’s front wing, which landed in the middle of the track. The debris was causing cars to swerve to avoid it under braking, and the situation was deemed unsafe.

The safety car pitted after several laps, and Jenson tore away by over half a second per lap. Nico Rosberg continued his ascent through the field, pushing Vitaly Petrov aside to take 11th.

After being reeled in by Alonso, Vettel chose to switch to the harder tyre on Lap 34. Webber followed the tyre call the following lap, indicating heavy tyre wear by the Red Bulls.

Sebastian emerged behind Adrian Sutil, getting badly held up for a lap before passing the Force India. Despite being on the prime tyre, he set the fastest sector 1 time the next lap, prompting Button to bring forward his stop.

Button wins, while Vettel causes the biggest celebrations

Button wins, while Vettel causes the biggest celebrations

Fernando Alonso pitted two laps later, and emerged ahead of Vettel. Meanwhile, Hamilton made a slightly more safe pass on Massa on the pit straight. For a few laps, Michael Schumacher was actually granted the lead of the race due to the pit stop, the German leading a race for the first time since the 2006 Japanese Grand Prix.

However, he soon pitted, slipping to 6th. Meanwhile, the battle for 2nd place began to heat up, with Vettel attempting several passes on Alonso, with the Ferrari driver cutting Sebastian off at every opportunity. Soon though, these battling cars began to catch Jenson Button at quite a considerable rate.

With 5 laps to go, the gap between first and second was 2.1 seconds. However, Jenson was able to pull out enough pace to maintain the gap to Fernando behind.

Sebastian Vettel celebrates back-to-back championships

Sebastian Vettel celebrates back-to-back championships

Button crossed the line to take an excellent victory, while Sebastian Vettel clinched the title from 3rd place. Interestingly enough, Jenson pulled over after the chequered flag, indicating the McLaren was extremely short on fuel.

The podium celebrations featured three world champions, one of which had just become the youngest ever back-to-back winner. After 9 wins out of 15 races, it is without doubt that it has been a fantastic season for the young German.

Hamilton and Schumacher miss final Q3 run after “ridiculous” incident

Hamilton was clearly frustrated after today's qualifying

Hamilton was clearly frustrated after today's qualifying

Both Michael Schumacher and Lewis Hamilton lost out at the end of Q3 in today’s Japanese Grand Prix qualifying, missing out on the final run in the dying minutes.

As a pack of four cars approached the final chicane – led by Jenson Button – teammate Lewis Hamilton backed off to create a raceable gap between the two McLarens. However, Mark Webber dived down the inside of Hamilton in order to retain a clean section of track in front of him. Meanwhile, Schumacher was on the outside, and took to the run-off area to avoid the duo.

Hamilton was on top of the timesheets at the time, but failed to set another time after crossing the line after the chequered flag. Schumacher suffered the same fate, while Webber made little impact on the frontrunners.

When asked about the incident, Lewis was initially coy on explaining, but later gave his view:

"It is what it is. Jenson was in front of me and he slowed down to get his gap. I 
was coming up to the last corner to make sure I had a gap between me and him. It 
wasn't that big.

Just as I was coming into the chicane I looked in my mirror and I saw Mark diving 
up the inside of me. Out of nowhere, he just shot up the inside and nearly 
crashed with me, so I had to avoid him.

And then I saw...I didn't even see Michael as I gave Mark room, but he nearly 
crashed on me on the left, so it was quite dangerous.

I don't know what the hell he was doing, but he went off onto the grass. It was 
just the most ridiculous thing I've ever experienced in qualifying.

I really hope somebody finds the footage for what happened because it wasn't right 
and it stopped my last qualifying lap."

On the other hand, Schumacher claimed that Hamilton had pushed him onto the grass:

"I had Webber in front because Hamilton slowed down. I don't know what was in front 
of him, if he really had to slow down that much, but it was tight for all three of 
us so we all had to push somehow to make it through and do another lap.

At that moment I was set to do a lap because I didn't know whether Kobayashi, or 
somebody, may go out [to set a time]. I tried my best and Lewis pushed me a little 
bit wide onto the grass."

As of yet there is no television footage of the incident.

Vettel pips Button for Suzuka pole position

Sebastian Vettel muscled his way into pole position for the Japanese Grand Prix.

The Red Bull driver was several thousands of a second ahead of Jenson Button, with teammate Lewis Hamilton failing to make his final run after a timing problem. Here is the full report:

Q1

Sebastian Vettel was out early in the session, setting a 1:33.051, with his teammate several hundreths of a second behind. Fernando Alonso and Jenson Button soon went faster than the Red Bulls on the prime tyres.

Hamilton soon went 2nd, 0.02 seconds slower than Fernando. On the soft tyres, Adrian Sutil pipped the Ferrari for first place in the dying few minutes of the session. However, he was quickly displaced by Kamui Kobayashi.

Neither Nico Rosberg or Vitantonio Liuzzi left the pits after undisclosed problems with their cars. Jerome D’Ambrosio beat his teammate on his final flying run for 20th position.

Drivers knocked out in Q1:

18) Heikki Kovalainen – 1:35.454

19) Jarno Trulli – 1:35.514

20) Jerome D’Ambrosio – 1:36.439

21) Timo Glock – 1:36.507

22) Daniel Ricciardo - 1:37.846

23) Nico Rosberg – No time

24) Vitantonio Liuzzi – No time

Q2

Vettel was once again out of the pits early, setting a 1:31.424, marginally ahead of Jenson Button. Lewis Hamilton then lowered the benchmark by 0.3 seconds.

Pastor Maldonado set his times on the medium tyres, and as a result was nowhere near progressing to Q3. Kamui Kobayashi went 8th, but was promptly pushed back by Vitaly Petrov, with Adrian Sutil and Bruno Senna behind.

The Toro Rossos, following their promising practice pace, were relegated to 15th and 16th.

Sergio Perez became the third driver of the afternoon not to set a lap time in his session, and the Mexican will start 17th.

Drivers knocked out of Q2:

11) Adrian Sutil – 1:32.463

12) Paul di Resta – 1:32.746

13) Rubens Barrichell0 – 1:33.079

14) Pastor Maldonado – 1:33.224

15) Sebastien Buemi – 1:33.227

16) Jaime Alguersuari – 1:33.427

17) Sergio Perez – No time

Q3

Kamui Kobayashi was the first car out of the pits for Q3, but pitted before setting a time. Fernando Alonso was the first man to set a flying lap, but the Ferrari ran wide at Spoon corner.

A 1:30.617 was Lewis Hamilton’s time, with Button and Vettel each a further 0.1 behind. Mark Webber was half a second off the leading group.

Only 6 out of 10 cars exited the pits for the final few minutes. Hamilton failed to cross the line by the chequered flag, Fernando Alonso went 5th, with Felipe Massa 4th. Sebastian Vettel pushed his way onto provisional pole, and Jenson Button missed out by only 0.009 seconds.

Mark Webber was 6th, with Michael Schumacher, Bruno Senna, Vitaly Petrov and Kamui Kobayashi all electing not to run in Q3.

Button stays on top in Suzuka second practice

Button again topped the timesheets in Suzuka

Button again topped the timesheets in Suzuka

Jenson Button continued to lead proceedings for the Japanese Grand Prix weekend.

The McLaren driver headed Fernando Alonso and Sebastian Vettel in second practice. The second McLaren was down in 8th place, 1.3 seconds off the pace.

Bruno Senna and Michael Schumacher both fell prey to Turn 1, with both cars having off-course excursions. Rubens Barrichello spun out at Degner after clipping the grass, while teammate Pastor Maldonado suffering technical problems. Kamui Kobayashi had a scary moment at 130R, nearly losing control, but he just wrestled the Sauber back onto track.

Times from second practice:

 1.  Jenson Button         McLaren-Mercedes      1:31.901   	   32
 2.  Fernando Alonso       Ferrari               1:32.075   0.174  33
 3.  Sebastian Vettel      Red Bull-Renault      1:32.095   0.194  35
 4.  Mark Webber           Red Bull-Renault      1:32.147   0.246  28
 5.  Felipe Massa          Ferrari               1:32.448   0.547  34
 6.  Michael Schumacher    Mercedes              1:32.710   0.809  26
 7.  Nico Rosberg          Mercedes              1:32.982   1.081  27
 8.  Lewis Hamilton        McLaren-Mercedes      1:33.245   1.344  26
 9.  Vitaly Petrov         Renault               1:33.446   1.545  36
10.  Sebastien Buemi       Toro Rosso-Ferrari    1:33.681   1.780  33
11.  Jaime Alguersuari     Toro Rosso-Ferrari    1:33.705   1.804  25
12.  Adrian Sutil          Force India-Mercedes  1:33.790   1.889  36
13.  Sergio Perez          Sauber-Ferrari        1:34.393   2.492  35
14.  Bruno Senna           Renault               1:34.557   2.656  27
15.  Paul di Resta         Force India-Mercedes  1:34.601   2.700  33
16.  Kamui Kobayashi       Sauber-Ferrari        1:36.038   4.137  33
17.  Heikki Kovalainen     Lotus-Renault         1:36.225   4.324  35
18.  Rubens Barrichello    Williams-Cosworth     1:37.123   5.222  14
19.  Timo Glock            Virgin-Cosworth       1:37.440   5.539  30
20.  Jerome D'Ambrosio     Virgin-Cosworth       1:38.093   6.192  30
21.  Pastor Maldonado      Williams-Cosworth     1:38.387   6.486  16
22.  Daniel Ricciardo      HRT-Cosworth          1:38.763   6.862  36
23.  Jarno Trulli          Lotus-Renault         1:39.800   7.899  24
24.  Tonio Liuzzi          HRT-Cosworth          1:42.480   10.579  4
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