Mark Webber has secured his first pole of the year, the 12th of his career. At Suzuka, he was faster than team mate Sebastian Vettel who will start alongside him on the front row of the Japanese GP grid.
Qualifying kicks off with Esteban Gutierrez in the Sauber. He's the first man out and sets the first time on the board.
Just two minutes later the track is filled with cars as Button goes fastest, ahead of Grosjean and Raikkonen. Most drivers at this time are running on the harder tyre, hoping to get through to Q2 without needing a run on the mediums.
The slower warmup of the harder compound also means teams are choosing to run a fast-slow-fast strategy as drivers are doing 3 lap stints during this early phase of qualifying.
2 minutes 55 seconds from the end, Jean-Eric Vergne's Toro Rosso catches fire at both rear brake ducts, requiring him to park his car. The amount of smoke caused a problem for the other cars on track, hence triggering a red flag to stop running until the track is clear.
Webber at the time is fastest, just ahead of Hamilton, Alonso, Vettel, Button and Grosjean. Vergne is 16th and therefore provisionally in Q2. Gutierrez is 17th, followed by Sutil, Pic, Van der Garde and Chilton. Bianchi hasn't even set a time yet as he saw his first flying lap abruptly stopped by Vergne's problem.
When the car is moved away, the session restarts with everybody except the fastest 5 taking the track, all but Grosjean on the medium tyres.
A very rapid sequence of laps shook up the order so far. Grosjean ended up on top, going faster than Massa and Rosberg. Webber is still 4th, followed by Di Resta, Hamilton, Alonso, Raikkonen, Vettel, Hulkenberg, Button, Bottas, Gutierrez, Perez, Ricciardo and Maldonado. This eliminates Sutil (who will also get a 5-place grid penalty for a gearbox change), along with Vergne, Chilton, Pic, Van der Garde and Bianchi.
At the start of Q2, Paul di Resta is the first man out, unsurprisingly immediately on the medium tyre.
As the session unfolds, Vettel again emerges on top, managing to find another few tenths on the competition. Mark Webber looks strong as well and is second about 3 tenths down on his teammate. Grosjean is 3rd, followed by Alonso, Hamilton, Button,Di Resta, Raikkonen, Massa and Rosberg.
In the final minute, every car except the top three are still on track. Hulkenberg is the first to improve, to 5th, but he still dropped to 10th by the end of Q2. The times are very close all through the top ten, with Perez actually missing out on Q2 by a single tenth as Massa pushed him out by improving to 6th in the final seconds.
In the end, it means Perez, Di Resta, Bottas, Gutierrez, Maldonado and Ricciardo are eliminated and will not take any part in Q3.
In the beginning of Q3, Vettel immediately has a KERS problem during his first run, followed by him going wide on the exit of spoon, making him lose even more time. Mark Webber on the other hand enjoyed a great lap to get on top of the times.
Only 4 drivers opted to go out early as Alonso follows in third and Hamilton in 4th.
In the final seconds, Raikkonen is the first to cross the finish line. He's followed by Vettel who is unable to improve on his previous time. Webber on the other hand can and takes a well deserved pole position, the first time this year he beats his team mate in qualifying.
|1||2||Mark Webber||Red Bull Racing-Renault||1:32.271||1:31.513||1:30.915||13|
|2||1||Sebastian Vettel||Red Bull Racing-Renault||1:32.397||1:31.290||1:31.089||13|
|3||10||Lewis Hamilton||Mercedes AMG||1:32.340||1:31.636||1:31.253||17|
|6||9||Nico Rosberg||Mercedes AMG||1:32.244||1:31.764||1:31.397||17|
|12||14||Paul di Resta||Force India-Mercedes||1:32.286||1:31.992||-||15|
|17||15||Adrian Sutil||Force India-Mercedes||1:32.890||-||-||10|
|21||21||Giedo van der Garde||Caterham-Renault||1:34.879||-||-||9|