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Qualifying - Vettel on pole at sunny Suzuka 10 Oct 2010

Qualifying parc ferme (L to R): Mark Webber (AUS) Red Bull Racing, second; Sebastian Vettel (GER) Red Bull Racing, pole position; Lewis Hamilton (GBR) McLaren, third (Before Penalty).
Formula One World Championship, Rd 16, Japanese Grand Prix, Race Day, Suzuka, Japan, Sunday, 10 October 2010 Mark Webber (AUS) Red Bull Racing RB6.
Formula One World Championship, Rd 16, Japanese Grand Prix, Race Day, Suzuka, Japan, Sunday, 10 October 2010 Michael Schumacher (GER) Mercedes GP MGP W01.
Formula One World Championship, Rd 16, Japanese Grand Prix, Race Day, Suzuka, Japan, Sunday, 10 October 2010 Fans.
Formula One World Championship, Rd 16, Japanese Grand Prix, Race Day, Suzuka, Japan, Sunday, 10 October 2010 Fernando Alonso (ESP) Ferrari F10.
Formula One World Championship, Rd 16, Japanese Grand Prix, Race Day, Suzuka, Japan, Sunday, 10 October 2010

Red Bull’s Sebastian Vettel and Mark Webber annihilated their opposition in Sunday morning’s delayed qualifying session for the Japanese Grand Prix at Suzuka, their stunning pace through the Esses in the first sector giving them a conclusive advantage over opposition that proved very closely matched.

Vettel lapped in 1m 30.785s to set himself up for a repeat of his success here last year, but Webber got very close on his final run with 1m 30.853s.

Behind them, McLaren’s Lewis Hamilton more than made up for Friday’s gaffe with a brilliant run to 1m 31.169s, as Renault’s Robert Kubica bounced into contention in fourth place on 1m 31.231s to see off Ferrari’s Fernando Alonso (1m 31.352s) and McLaren’s Jenson Button (1m 31.378s). Button was the only top-ten runner to opt for the harder, prime tyre for Q3 (and hence the start of the race).

The Williams drivers showed great pace all through qualifying, but in the end they had to be happy with eighth and ninth fastest times as Nico Rosberg shoved his Mercedes into seventh with 1m 31.494s. Rubens Barrichello just aced Nico Hulkenberg, with 1m 31.535s to 1m 31.559s, as Mercedes GP’s Michael Schumacher brought up the rear on 1m 31.846s.

Hamilton, however, drops to eighth because of Sunday’s gearbox change, leaving the top 10 as: Vettel and Webber; Kubica and Alonso; Button and Rosberg; Barrichello and Hamilton; Hulkenberg and Schumacher.

As Vettel continued to set the pace with 1m 31.184s, the big news of Q2 was Michael Schumacher improving right at the end to make Q3 and Ferrari’s Felipe Massa failing to get through. To make things worse, the Brazilian wasn’t even the fastest faller. That was his old BMW Sauber team mate Nick Heidfeld, who tucked up local hero Kamui Kobayashi. The German lapped in 1m 32.187s for 11th, ahead of the Brazilian on 1m 32.321s, Renault’s Vitaly Petrov on 1m 32.422s and then Kobayashi on 1m 32.427s.

Adrian Sutil was 15th in his Force €ndia on 1m 32.659s, ahead of Jaime Alguersuari’s Toro Rosso on 1m 33.071s and Vitantonio Liuzzi’s Force €ndia on 1m 33.154s.

Sebastien Buemi’s Toro Rosso was the first car to fail to make it through Q1, which began with sufficient damp patches to warrant initial runs on intermediate Bridgestones before slicks became the order of the day.

As Vettel set the pace with 1m 32.035s from Hulkenberg on 1m 32.211s and Rosberg on 1m 32.238s, the Swiss lapped in 1m 33.568s, then came the Lotuses of Jarno Trulli and Heikki Kovalainen on 1m 35.346s and 1m 35.464s and the Virgins of Lucas di Grassi and Timo Glock on 1m 36.265s and 1m 36.332s. At the back, Bruno Senna lapped his HRT in 1m 37.270s to head team mate Sakon Yamamoto on 1m 37.365s.

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