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Qualifying - Vettel claims fourth successive Suzuka pole 06 Oct 2012

Qualifying results:
Pole position Sebastian Vettel (GER) Red Bull Racing, centre.
2nd Mark Webber (AUS) Red Bull Racing, left.
3rd Jenson Button (GBR) McLaren, right.
Formula One World Championship, Rd15, Japanese Grand Prix, Qualifying, Suzuka, Japan, Saturday, 6 October 2012 Jenson Button (GBR) McLaren MP4-27.
Formula One World Championship, Rd15, Japanese Grand Prix, Qualifying, Suzuka, Japan, Saturday, 6 October 2012 Michael Schumacher (GER) Mercedes AMG F1 W03.
Formula One World Championship, Rd15, Japanese Grand Prix, Qualifying, Suzuka, Japan, Saturday, 6 October 2012 Fernando Alonso (ESP) Ferrari F2012.
Formula One World Championship, Rd15, Japanese Grand Prix, Qualifying, Suzuka, Japan, Saturday, 6 October 2012 Romain Grosjean (FRA) Lotus E20.
Formula One World Championship, Rd15, Japanese Grand Prix, Qualifying, Suzuka, Japan, Saturday, 6 October 2012 Sergio Perez (MEX) Sauber, Jenson Button (GBR) McLaren MP4-27 and Mark Webber (AUS) Red Bull Racing RB8.
Formula One World Championship, Rd15, Japanese Grand Prix, Qualifying, Suzuka, Japan, Saturday, 6 October 2012

Nobody is going to dominate here, Red Bull said on Friday. But the cars from Milton Keynes were in such a class of their own in final qualifying on Saturday afternoon that only Jenson Button in the hitherto pace-setting McLaren could get close to them.

Sebastian Vettel took pole position with a lap in 1m 30.839s, with team mate Mark Webber shadowing him on 1m 31.090s and Button hanging on with 1m 31.290s. But the Briton has a five-place grid penalty because of his post-Singapore gearbox change, which means he’ll start eighth.

Kamui Kobayashi rose to the occasion on his home ground to take fourth place for Sauber on 1m 31.700s, as Romain Grosjean took fifth for Lotus in 1m 31.898s. Sergio Perez put the second Sauber sixth with 1m 32.022s, as Fernando Alonso had to be satisfied with seventh for Ferrari on 1m 32.114s.

Kimi Raikkonen made himself unpopular when he span on his second run in Q3, which ruined Lewis Hamilton’s chances of improving on 1m 32.327s. That left him ninth, behind Raikkonen, who had recorded 1m 32.208s on his first run. Force India’s Nico Hulkenberg didn’t participate, as he’ll also get a five-place grid penalty for a gearbox change, prompted by his FP3 crash.

As Vettel dominated Q2 with 1m 31.501s, Grosjean’s late run pushed Felipe Massa out. The Ferrari driver had been well up at times all through Q1 and Q2 but ultimately his 1m 32.293s missed the cut by a fraction, leaving him 11th ahead of Force India’s Paul di Resta who was unhappy with traffic on his way to 1m 32.327s.

Michael Schumacher did only one run for 1m 32.469s and will thus start 23rd when his 10-place grid penalty from Singapore is applied. Behind the German, Pastor Maldonado disappointed for Williams with 1m 32.512s which left him ahead of Nico Rosberg on 1m 32.625s for Mercedes, and the Toro Rossos of Daniel Ricciardo and Jean-Eric Vergne on 1m 32.954s and 1m 33.368s respectively.

As late improvements put Grosjean and the Sauber drivers ahead of Raikkonen in Q1, a very late effort by Schumacher just squeezed him in at Bruno Senna’s expense. The Brazilian was incensed to be impeded at the chicane by Vergne, who was subsequently demoted three places on the grid by the stewards for his misdemeanour.

Senna’s 1m 33.405s left him a disgruntled 18th, ahead of Heikki Kovalainen who took his usual 19th slot for Caterham in 1m 34.657s. Timo Glock was next on 1m 35.213s for Marussia, with Pedro de la Rosa excelling to squeeze 1m 35.385s from his HRT to head Charles Pic (reprimanded together with the team for the incident at the chicane with Hamilton in FP3) on 1m 35.429s. Vitaly Petrov couldn’t better 1m 35.432s in the second Caterham and Narain Karthikeyan was at the back in his HRT on 1m 36.734s.

With the various penalties applied, the grid will line up thus: Vettel, Webber; Kobayashi, Grosjean; Perez, Alonso; Raikkonen, Button; Hamilton, Massa; Di Resta, Maldonado; Rosberg, Ricciardo; Hulkenberg, Senna; Kovalainen, Glock; Vergne, De la Rosa; Pic, Petrov; Schumacher, Karthikeyan.

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