Japanese GP - Saturday - Qualifying Session Report
Webber's First First
Mark Webber qualified for the first place on the grid for the first time this year. His Red Bull teammate Sebastian Vettel, who had started on the pole in the last three consecutive races, couldn't put a lap together and qualified second. This was Webber's 12th career pole.
The ambient air temperature at the start of the 60-minute qualifying session was 75 degrees Fahrenheit (24 degrees Celsius), and the track temperature was 97 degrees Fahrenheit (36 degrees Celsius.)
Sauber's Esteban Gutierrez got things rolling for the 20 minute FP1. Nobody followed him out until three minutes later. Gutierrez set the first time: 1:33.547 and then lowered that to a 1:33.380.
6 minutes into the session, Jenson Button took the lead with a time of 1:32.606 in his McLaren. Just about everybody was on the hard compound Pirelli slicks.
7 minutes into the session, drama in the Sauber garage as the rear of Gutierrez's car had a flash fire. He made a hasty exit out of the cockpit.
9 minutes into the session, Fernando Alonso went fastest with a 1:32.371 in his Ferrari. Lewis Hamilton moved into second with a time of 1:32.526 in his Mercedes.
14 minutes into the session, Sebastian Vettel, who had missed part of FP3 because of a KERS problem on his Red Bull, clocked a 1:32.397 ‚Äö√Ñ√∂‚àö√ë‚àö¬® third best. Lewis Hamilton (Mercedes) was now on top with a 1:32.340 in his Mercedes. But then Mark Webber (Red Bull) beat that with a 1:32.271.
With 3 minutes remaining in the session, Jean-Eric Vergne's Toro Rosso caught fire out on the track. Both rear brakes were alight. The session was red flagged.
There was two minutes and 55 seconds remaining in the session. It restarted after a five minute stoppage. The drivers who went out would have time for one timed lap.
All the drivers that did head out were on the medium compound tire. Webber, Hamilton, Alonso, Vettel and Jenson Button (McLaren), the top five, stayed in the pits while all the rest were trackside.
Rosberg went fastest overall with a 1:31.244 and then Romain Grosjean (Lotus) beat that with a 1:31.824 and Felipe Massa (Ferrari) took third with a 1:31.994.
The top 10 at the end of Q1 were: Grosjean, Massa, Rosberg, Webber, Paul di Resta (Force India), Hamilton, Alonso, Kimi Raikkonen (Lotus), Vettel and Nico Hulkenberg (Sauber.)
The six drivers eliminated in Q1 were: Adrian Sutil (Force India), Vergne, max Chilton (Marussia), Charles Pic (Caterham), Guido van der Garde (Caterham) and Jules Bianchi (Marussia.)
Paul di Resta was the first out in the 15-minute Q2 in his Force India. Gutierrez's Sauber had not suffered too badly with the fire and he was the next out. But Gutierrez then headed back to the pits for further checks on the car.
Almost everybody was on the medium tires now as di Resta turned a 1:33.059 on the mediums. Raikkonen beat that with a 1:32.020 while Grosjean, on the hards, was second with 1:32.079.
With 7 minutes remaining in the session, Hamilton, on the mediums, took over first with a 1:31.852 and Alonso beat that with a 1:31.828.
With 6 minutes remaining in the session, Vettel and Webber headed out for their runs. Vettel's time of 1:31.290 put him first. Webber's 1:31.513 put him second.
With less than 3 minutes remaining in the session, Daniel Ricciardo (Toro Rosso) and Gutierrez headed out for their first timed laps of Q2.
With 2 minutes remaining in the session, every driver was on track except Vettel and Webber.
The top 10 at the end of Q2 were: Vettel, Webber, Grosjean, Hamilton, Raikkonen, Massa, Rosberg, Alonso, Button and Hulkenberg.
The six drivers eliminated in Q2 were: Sergio Perez (McLaren), di Resta, Valtteri Bottas (Williams), Gutierrez, Pastor Maldonado (Williams) and Ricciardo.
Vettel and Alonso were the first out for the 10-minute Q3 shootout.
Vettel clocked a 1:31.312. Alonso turned a 1:31.839 while Webber went quickest with a 1:30.975. Hamilton took fourth with a 1:31.952. Only these four set times on the first runs.
With 4 minutes remaining in the session, everybody was in the pits preparing for one final blast around the 18-turn Suzuka circuit.
With 2 minutes remaining in the session, all 10 drivers were on track. Raikkonen was the first to start his flying lap.
Vettel improved to a 1:31.089 but that wasn't enough to beat Webber who improved to a 1:30.915 to take the pole. Hamilton sneaked in with a 1:31.253 for third place while Grosjean's 1:31.365 put him fourth on the grid.
Massa, Rosberg, Hulkenberg, Alonso, Raikkonen and Button rounded out the top 10 qualifiers.