Qualifying - Vettel on pole after disjointed Suzuka session 03 Oct 2009
Sebastian Vettel eventually took pole position for the Japanese Grand Prix after a dramatic qualifying session on Saturday, which was stopped three times after accidents.
In a scrappy final session the German took his Red Bull round in 1m 32.160s to hold off Jarno Trulli who did 1m 32.220s for Toyota. Lewis Hamilton secured the inside slot on the second row with 1m 32.395s for McLaren, displacing his friend Adrian Sutil in the Force India, who had recorded 1m 32.466s.
Behind them, Rubens Barrichello aced team mate Jenson Button, putting his Brawn fifth on 1m 32.660s, The Englishman was seventh on 1m 32.962s. They were split by Nick Heidfelds BMW Sauber, which the German lapped in 1m 32.945s, and Kimi Raikkonen completed the top eight for Ferrari with 1m 32.980s.
After all the delays in Q2, the red flag flew again soon after the start of Q3 when Heikki Kovalainen dropped his McLaren at the slippery Degner Two on his first flier. With Toro Rossos Sebastian Buemi having been in the wars in Q2 and damaging his car too badly to participate in Q3, the fifth row of the grid was quickly decided. After a five-minute delay the session resumed.
Qualifying took place in near perfect conditions, with bright sunshine and a track temperature that reached 37 degrees Celsius.
Q2 was red flagged almost immediately, after Kovalainen had set the only time of 1m 31.195s, when Toro Rossos Jaime Alguersuari went off on the exit to Degner One and crashed heavily head-on into the tyre barrier at Degner Two. The Spaniard was unhurt and soon out of the wreckage, but the session was delayed by eight minutes.
The session resumed long enough for Trulli to go fastest with 1m 30.737s before team mate Timo Glock went wide exiting the final corner and augered into the tyre wall on the outside, bringing out another red flag. This time the ambulance was needed, but Glock was seen to be waving and giving a thumbs up as he was taken to the circuits medical centre.
Official reports say his general condition is good, but he was taken to hospital complaining of back and leg pains.
There was still one final act to be played out in this session, when Buemi, having already survived a rear-end brush with the Degner Two wall in Q1, dropped his Toro Rosso on the run to 130R and spent most of it wiping the STR4 down the outer barrier and shedding debris, including his front wing. Button was lucky to weave through this before the yellows came out, and vault up to fourth at the last gasp, as was Barrichello who took sixth. Vettel set the fastest time of 1m 30.341s.
Besides Alguersuari and Glock, those who failed to get through were Williams Nico Rosberg on 1m 31.482s, Renaults Fernando Alonso on 1m 31.638s and BMW Saubers Robert Kubica on 1m 32.341s.
As Vettel dominated with 1m 30.883 to Hamiltons 1m 30.917s, Q1 weeded out Giancarlo Fisichella who wound his Ferrari round in 1m 31.704s and Williams Kazuki Nakajima whose final effort came up 1m 31.718s. Then came Renaults Romain Grosjean on 1m 32.073s and Vitantonio Liuzzi on 1m 32.087s from his first run.
Mark Webber did not take part in the session after damaging three mounting points for his Red Bull RB5s steering rack in his off at Degner Two in practice on Saturday morning. The car is being rebuilt around a new chassis, and he will subsequently start from the pit lane on Sunday.