Qualifying analysis - Vettel inches ever closer to title 08 Oct 2011
With a crash in practice and McLarens punchy pace, things hadnt been going quite to plan for Red Bulls Sebastian Vettel in Japan. However on Saturday afternoon Vettels luck turned and after extracting everything from his RB7 he took his 12th pole position of the season, besting McLarens Jenson Button by just nine thousandths of a second. We take a team-by-team look at how all the runners performed
Sebastian Vettel, 1m 30.466s, P1
Mark Webber, 1m 31.156s, P4
Vettel said that Red Bull pulled out all the stops after practice and turned things around so that he could squeeze everything out that the RB7 had to offer. Most people in the paddock believe that was code for taking fuel out and revealing their true hand. Either way, he got everything right to snatch yet another pole, as Webbers efforts yielded two disappointing laps.
Jenson Button, 1m 30.475s, P2
Lewis Hamilton, 1m 30.617s, P3
Button said that, like Vettel, he got everything out of his McLaren as his efforts to take the teams first pole of the season failed by nine thousandths of a second thanks to a little too much oversteer on his second run. Hamilton, meanwhile, kept his thoughts to himself but was clearly angry over the reasons why he failed to make the chequered flag by two seconds and thus lost the second run that would most likely have retained his initial pole position. He, Webber and Schumacher all arrived at the last corner at the same time, which didnt help any of them.
Felipe Massa, 1m 30.804s, P5
Fernando Alonso, 1m 886s, P5
Massa outqualified Alonso for a change, as Ferrari achieved the third row starts they Alonso had said before qualifying were the best that they should expect. The Spaniard messed up his first lap by sliding off the road in the Spoon Curve, and never got it all together on his second attempt.
Michael Schumacher, No time, P7 (will start P8)
Nico Rosberg, No time, P23
As hydraulic problems condemned Rosberg to a 23rd place start, Schumacher easily made it through to Q2, then conserve rubber in Q3 for a race in which tyre wear is set to play a key role. Although he was initially classified in seventh he was demoted to eighth on the grid behind Sauber's Kamui Kobayashi but ahead of the Renaults of Bruno Senna and Vitaly Petrov. All four failed to set a time during Q3 but Kobayashi did start a qualifying lap before subsequently aborting it and, in line with the FIA sporting regulations, is therefore positioned ahead of the other three on the grid.
Bruno Senna, No time, P8 (will start P9)
Vitaly Petrov, No time, P9 (will start P10)
Renault made big steps after their disappointing time in FP3, and Senna made amends for his crash then to pip team mate Petrov on the grid even though neither elected to run in Q3 in order to save tyres for the race. The duo will start ninth and tenth after the Kobayashi reshuffle.
Kamui Kobayashi, No time, P10 (will start P7)
Sergio Perez, No time, P17
Kobayashi was actually fastest in Q1 after slapping on a set of soft Pirellis as most stayed with the mediums. He was promoted to seventh from tenth on the grid after it was recognised he had started (and then aborted) a qualifying lap in Q3, unlike Schumacher, Senna and Petrov. Perez was unlucky and could not participate in Q2 after encountering an hydraulic problem on his C30.
Adrian Sutil, 1m 32.463s, P11
Paul di Resta, 1m 32.746s, P12
Sutil was disappointed to miss out on Q3, but said that starting 11th was good enough because of the tyre choice that it confers. He has saved a new set of softs for the race. Di Resta was feeling unwell today, and was thus happy to be so close to his team mate after a troubled time. He said that his set-up wasnt ideal for qualifying as they had deliberately opted for something better suited to the race.
Rubens Barrichello, 1m 33.079s, P13
Pastor Maldonado, 1m 33.224s, P14
Barrichello was very happy with the changes the team made after he complained of poor balance in FP3 and initially in qualifying, and felt he was able to get in a solid lap that placed him 13th. Maldonado was hurt by the loss of track time on Friday, but backed him with 14th on a much more positive day for the team.
Sebastien Buemi, 1m 33.227s, P15
Jaime Alguersuari, 1m 33.427s, P16
Toro Rosso have looked good all weekend, but they dropped from Q3 positions in the closing laps of Q2 as neither driver elected to defend their positions with final runs. Again the plan was to save rubber for the race, the more so in the teams case as they feel they are much better at racing than qualifying. They came to regret the strategy as Buemi, who admitted that a trip over a kerb had compromised his best lap, and Alguersuari, slipped further down the grid than expected.
Heikki Kovalainen, 1m 35.454s, P18
Jarno Trulli, 1m 35.514s, P19
Kovalainen was very happy with his lap, because he nailed it with a bold tyre strategy and kept the DRS open through 130R, Trulli admitted to some small mistakes on his best lap. Both go to the race believing that other teams fears over tyre wear are misplaced, and expecting to be able to run hard all the way through.
Jerome DAmbrosio, 1m 36.439s, P20
Timo Glock, 1m 36.507s, P21
DAmbrosio was very happy with his lap but Glock struggled slightly after reverting to his FP2 set-up for qualifying, having tried a slightly different direction in FP3 which proved not to be the way to go.
Daniel Ricciardo, 1m 37.846s, P22
Vitantonio Liuzzi, No time, P24
Yet another disaster befell Liuzzi, as his engine succumbed before he got a timed lap under his wheels. Ricciardo was ahead of the Virgins for a while, but failed to match their subsequent improvement.
With a performance difference of just over a second between the medium and soft tyres, the Italian manufacturer believes well see some interesting tyre strategies during the race.
For tickets and travel to 2011 Formula One races, click here.
For Formula One and F1 team merchandise, click here.