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Vettel gives Toro Rosso top-ten breakthrough 29 Sep 2007

Sebastian Vettel (GER) Scuderia Toro Rosso STR02 
Formula One World Championship, Rd15, Japanese Grand Prix, Qualifying Day, Fuji Speedway, Fuji, Japan, Saturday, 29 September 2007 Sebastian Vettel (GER) Scuderia Toro Rosso STR02.
Formula One World Championship, Rd15, Japanese Grand Prix, Practice Day, Fuji Speedway, Fuji, Japan, Friday, 28 September 2007 Vitantonio Liuzzi (ITA) Scuderia Toro Rosso STR2.
Formula One World Championship, Rd15, Japanese Grand Prix, Practice Day, Fuji Speedway, Fuji, Japan, Friday, 28 September 2007

Just four races into his career with the team, Sebastian Vettel gave Toro Rosso something to smile about on Saturday when he qualified ninth for the Japanese Grand Prix. Vettel’s grid slot - P8 thanks to Nico Rosberg’s engine-change penalty - is Toro Rosso’s highest since they began competing in Formula One racing.

Vettel’s impressive performance in the STR2 followed a morning interrupted by rain and mist at Fuji Speedway, the 20-year old German taking advantage of a set-up ideally suited to the tricky conditions. After comfortably making Q2, he edged out Renault’s Giancarlo Fisichella by a tenth of a second to secure his place in the top-ten shootout.

“Definitely a good day and a great experience for the team to get to Q3 for the first time,” Vettel enthused. “Fantastic! I think if I had managed that final run, I could have improved by up to two places but we went for a last minute strategy change which meant I lost the last lap. When you start high up the grid you expect a better than usual finish position.”

Toro Rosso team mate Vitantonio Liuzzi, meanwhile, had a much tougher day. While Vettel ran a wet set-up, the team hedged their bets regarding Sunday’s weather, configuring Liuzzi’s car for dry conditions. The Italian qualified in P14.

“This result is okay,” said Liuzzi. “We took a gamble in terms of set-up strategy and I set off with quite low wing, as if for dry conditions, while we put Sebastian on wet settings. We knew it would be difficult in the wet, but we are hoping for a dry race tomorrow. More rear wing definitely helped Sebastian make it to Q3.”

Before Vettel’s triumph in Japan, Toro Rosso’s best grid placing was Scott Speed’s P11 at last season’s Chinese Grand Prix.