Vettel takes pole in heavily disrupted qualifying

Sebastian Vettel took his fourth pole position this season in a chaotic Suzuka qualifying session that was interrupted by three red flags for massive crashes, one of which has left Timo Glock injured.

The Red Bull Racing driver dominated the all-important Q3 session by setting the quickest time in all three segments around the challenging 3.62-mile race track. Vettel stopped the clocks at one minute, 32.160 seconds to earn his first pole since Silverstone, beating Jarno Trulli and Lewis Hamilton in the process.

As for the championship contenders at the Brawn GP team, Rubens Barrichello has outqualified his team-mate Jenson Button with fifth and seventh respectively. However the pair could possibly face penalties after setting their best Q2 times while yellow flags were out.

The first two red flags occurred in Q2 when Scuderia Toro Rosso driver Jaime Alguersuari crashed head-on into the tyre barriers after running wide at the tricky Degner corner.

The Spaniard was assisted out of his broken car by track marshals and after a check-up with the Formula One medical team he is cleared to race.

Toyota’s Timo Glock had a far larger shunt when accelerating out of the Casino Triangle chicane. The German seemed to understeered off the turn leading to the pit straight and directly into the tyre barrier.

The medical team carefully extracted Glock, who was conscious and moving in the cockpit, and he was removed from the scene on a stretcher. The German waved to the crowd as he was placed into an ambulance and is being taken to hospital by helicopter with pain in his back and left leg.

The Toyota team will decide on race day morning whether Glock is available to take part in the Japanese Grand Prix. If the German is out of action following this incident, Toyota will consider the use of Kamui Kobayashi.

The Japanese driver has already replaced Glock in Friday’s wet practice sessions, when the German was feeling unwell. However, under the current Formula One regulations, Kobayashi would not be allowed to race unless he gets special dispensation from the sport’s governing body, the FIA. If not, then the sole remaining Toyota of Jarno Trulli will represent the team in its home Grand Prix.

With the red flags having interrupted most drivers’ preparation for quick laps in Q2, there was a last minute sprint to get through into Q3. In that rush, Sebastien Buemi crashed on the exit of Spoon Curve and deposited his Toro Rosso’s front wing and other carbon fibre debris in the middle of the track as he limited back to the pits.

Yellow flags were waved at this section of the circuit, and yet both Barrichello and Button set their fastest sector times to make it through into the top-ten shootout. Renault’s Fernando Alonso obeyed the warning by backing off (but had to overtake the slow Buemi even though overtaking is not allowed under yellow flags). The double world champion will start in a disappointing P12, with Nico Rosberg (Williams) and Robert Kubica (BMW Sauber) also knocked out.

That Spoon Curve incident was Buemi’s second accident in qualifying, as he had already spun backwards into the Degner tyre wall in Q1. Luckily, he was able to return back to the pits and after fitting a new rear wing on his Toro Rosso, he was able to record a lap to go through into Q2. But in a bid to improve his time, the Swiss pushed too hard and it was trip into the barriers.

The third red flag came out in Q3 when McLaren’s Heikki Kovalainen crashed at that demanding Degner Curve. The Finn had earlier spun at the tricky turn in Q1 without hitting anything. Unfortunately, the next time through on his first flying lap in Q3, he spun and hit the outside barrier. The Finn escaped unhurt but will join fellow shunt specialist Buemi on row five on the grid.

Why was so many drivers flying off the track and crashing? The reason could be down to two big factors. The first is the limited running on the dry track, no thanks to a complete washout in Friday’s practice sessions. The second is that the drivers were taking more risks in a bid to set competitive lap times. Combining these two factors has resulted in a messy qualifying session with drivers pushing a bit too far in a car that hasn’t been properly set up for the figure of eight race circuit.

Anyway, back to Q3 at Suzuka. With Kovalainen’s damaged car moved away, the session finally proceeded without any further drama to the chequered flag, with Vettel securing his pole position with just one flying lap.

His Red Bull Racing team-mate Mark Webber missed out on the whole session after a crash in final free practice. Where did the Australian go off? Yes, it was that corner again… The team was unable to repair his RB5 so Webber will start the Japanese Grand Prix at the back of the grid in a new chassis.

Behind Trulli and Singapore Grand Prix winner Hamilton, Force India’s Adrian Sutil grabbed fourth spot with BMW’s Nick Heidfeld splitting the Brawns in sixth position.

Ferrari’s Kimi Raikkonen lines up eighth while team-mate Giancarlo Fisichella was within half a second of his team-mate’s pace in Q1, but that left him back in P16. It was a similar story for home driver Kazuki Nakajima, who only managed P17 for Williams.

Renault’s Romain Grosjean and the Force India of Tonio Liuzzi were the other Q1 departures, with the latter set to take a gearbox change penalty, along with Webber.

UPDATE: Revised line-up following penalties for five drivers for not backing off during a yellow flag period in Q2.

Qualifying times from Suzuka:

1.  Vettel       Red Bull-Renault       1:32.160
2.  Trulli       Toyota                 1:32.220
3.  Hamilton     McLaren-Mercedes       1:32.395
4.  Heidfeld     BMW-Sauber             1:32.945
5.  Raikkonen    Ferrari                1:32.980
6. Rosberg      Williams-Toyota       1:31.482
7. Kubica       BMW-Sauber            1:32.341
8.  Sutil        Force India-Mercedes   1:32.466*
9.  Barrichello  Brawn-Mercedes         1:32.660*
10. Alguersuari  Toro Rosso-Ferrari    1:31.571
11.  Button       Brawn-Mercedes         1:32.962*
12. Fisichella   Ferrari               1:31.704
13. Kovalainen   McLaren-Mercedes       1:31.223**
14. Buemi        Toro Rosso-Ferrari    1:31.103*
15. Nakajima     Williams-Toyota       1:31.718
16. Grosjean     Renault               1:32.073
17. Alonso       Renault               1:31.638*
18. Liuzzi       Force India-Mercedes  1:32.087**
19. Glock        Toyota                1:31.550***
20. Webber       Red Bull-Renault      No time***

* Five-place grid penalty
** Five-place grid penalty for changing gearbox
*** Will use new chassis so will start from the pitlane

15 thoughts to “Vettel takes pole in heavily disrupted qualifying”

  1. Sebastian Vettel is aiming to keep his championship chances alive after grabbing pole position for the Japanese Grand Prix.

    The Red Bull driver is 25 points behind championship leader Jenson Button with just three races left, meaning Vettel needs to outscore the Briton by six points on Sunday if he wants to stay in the hunt.

    Button qualified down in seventh place, but his position is in doubt after he clearly set his best Q2 time when the yellow flags were out.

    Button and five other drivers have been summoned to see the race stewards.

    Vettel, who scored his fourth pole of the season, is now looking to maximise his opportunity.

    “There’s three races to go and it’s quite a big gap so every race has to be a chance if you still want to keep our chances alive,” said Vettel. “We came here to race and we want to win. I think we are in the best position for tomorrow’s race.

    “It is a long race, obviously tough for the tyres and I think really tough for the drivers. We have to keep the concentration up especially in the Esses, I think there are physics and some rules but it’s amazing how quick you can go with car.

    “It is fantastic when the car is empty, you wish to keep going for another lap. It is a long race and we have a very, very good chance, also looking at the championships.”

    Vettel admitted it was hard to predict how strong his team will be, but said it was not too surprising to be on pole.

    “We expected to be competitive, but we did not know how competitive,” said the German. “I think also looking at Q1 it is so tight, you see different cars on top and back in the midfield, therefore we could not expect to be on pole.

    “We expected to be strong and luckily we were right, being fastest in Q1, Q2 and Q3 was great. It’s a shame for Mark, he did not crash hard in Turn 9 but had a problem with the car so they could not fix it and he missed the session, otherwise he would have been on top.”


  2. Jarno Trulli is delighted with his front starting position for the Japanese Grand Prix, given the tumultuous nature of Toyota’s qualifying session on Saturday.

    While Trulli emphasised his free practice pace from the morning session, missing out on pole – which went to Vettel – by less than a tenth of a second, team-mate Timo Glock suffered a cut leg and back pain in a large accident that halted Q2 while he was extracted from the car.

    “Obviously I feel for Timo because we could both have been starting at the front of the grid today,” said Trulli. “It was good to hear quickly from the team that he is okay; just a bit upset he isn’t in the top six with me.”

    Trulli, who along with Glock, is unlikely to play a role in Toyota’s plans for 2010, added that updates to the TF109 had improved the car significantly.

    “It was a crazy qualifying session in general with all the red flags and I am really happy with this result, especially in front of all our Japanese fans,” said Trulli. “The whole team has done a great job this weekend with our updated package to give me this chance to qualify on the front row. They have provided me with a car to fight at the front and I want to say thanks to them.

    “My priority in qualifying was to keep my concentration because I knew we had a good chance to get a strong result. I think my lap time was the maximum I could get out of the car so I am very pleased with it.”


  3. Qualifying in an impressive fourth spot is Force India’s Adrian Sutil. The German even admitted it was surprised to do so well. Read on for his views as taken from

    Adrian Sutil has admitted that he is surprised to have qualified fourth for the Japanese Grand Prix despite being confident coming into the weekend thinking that Force India would be competitive.

    The German was just 0.071 seconds off third-placed Lewis Hamilton, and is well-placed to take his second points finish in three races.

    Although it is Sutil’s first F1 start at Suzuka after taking part in Friday practice in 2006, he has a good record at the Honda-owned track, finishing on the podium three times in four starts on his way to the Japanese Formula 3 title three years ago.

    “It was always a good feeling to go to a track you know, where you feel good and the confidence is there.

    “Our car has performed well on these type of circuits in the past and we’ve had a strong weekend so far but we did not expect to be able to race in the top five, so fourth is a really great position for the start tomorrow.”

    Sutil added that the number of red flags made qualifying difficult, but that the balance of his car was very good in Q3.

    “It was a long session, with so many red flags that we had to cancel a few laps and come in and then try to focus again. Finally it was OK and on the last few laps the car felt great.

    “Third was also very close, just a few hundredths away, but unfortunately Lewis just took it right at the very end of the session! We had a really hard weekend in Singapore and it’s nice to be back: it’s just fantastic for the team.”

    Team-mate Vitantonio Liuzzi will start on the last row after a gearbox change between practice and qualifying.

    “We had a few issues in the morning in free practice with the gearbox and we couldn’t test everything we needed to, including the soft tyres, which cost us a lot,” said Liuzzi.

    “The guys did a great job to change the box and get out again for qualifying but we had a lot of understeer in qualifying and it was not 100% as a result.

    “To make it worse I have not been feeling at my best today so it’s a combination of everything really. I hope for more tomorrow for sure.”

  4. Both Robert Kubica and Fernando Alonso paid the heavy price of not getting through Q2 due to red flags. Read on for their views on a dramatic qualifying session at Suzuka. Courtesy from

    Robert Kubica says the host of flags that disrupted qualifying ruined his chances of a good result ahead of the Japanese Grand Prix.

    Qualifying was stopped three times due to accidents and the final seconds of Q2 were disrupted by a yellow flag following a crash by Sebastien Buemi.

    BMW Sauber driver Kubica finished down in 13th position after being unable to complete a proper run.

    “My qualifying was totally disappointing,” said Kubica. “All my flying laps in the second session were destroyed by red or yellow flags. In the entire fifteen minutes we were not able to do one quick timed lap.

    “Qualifying for tomorrow’s race in 13th is far from ideal. Suzuka is a fantastic track but overtaking isn’t too easy here. It is how it is. I hope Timo is okay. I wish him all the best.”

    Team-mate Nick Heidfeld enjoyed a more positive day after qualifying in sixth position, although the German admitted he also lost time with the yellow flags.

    “I’m happy with my qualifying performance,” he said. “I had a really good lap in Q3. I wasn’t too optimistic for qualifying because in free practice this morning I struggled a bit with the set-up and had to go for a compromise.

    “In Q2 I saw the yellow flags and lifted my foot off the pedal and raised an arm to indicate I had reduced speed where I was required to. I was a couple of tenths slower. Obviously it was a very strange qualifying. I have never known one before with so many accidents and I hope Timo is okay.”

    Fernando Alonso insisted Formula 1 rules state drivers must lift off when they see a yellow flag on track after several men improved their laptimes when the yellow was out during qualifying for the Japanese Grand Prix.

    The FIA is believed to have summoned six drivers, including Alonso, to analyse their actions in the dying moments of the second qualifying segment, when Toro Rosso’s Sebastien Buemi had crashed, leaving lots of debris – including a front wing – on the straight.

    Championship leader Jenson Button was one of the drivers who set his best time with the yellows on track.

    Alonso, who qualified in 12th, told Spanish television after qualifying that he was expecting to gain a few places due to penalties.

    “I’m sure tomorrow I’ll start a lot higher than 12th,” he said.

    Speaking to reporters later, the Spaniard admitted he had lifted off when he saw the yellow flag.

    “It was a strange qualifying with many incidents and at the end of Q2 also with the yellow flag and a front wing in the middle of the track,” said Alonso. “We had been through that mostly all cars.

    “I avoided the front wing in the middle of the track and I lifted and I came into the pits and we didn’t make it to Q3. I think some people improved their laps but that’s the way it is.”

    He added: “As soon as you see the yellow flag you have to lift off, and you have to be cautious because you don’t know what’s going to happen 20 meters later, maybe there’s a front wing or two cars blocking the track. You have to lift off. We’ll see.

    “I don’t know what the other people did. I only know what I did, that was lifting off quite late unfortunately but it’s when I saw the yellow flag.”

    The Renault driver went to see the stewards right after qualifying, but only to explain why he had overtaken Buemi.

    “I was there because I overtook Buemi, because after the crash he was running slowly. You cannot overtake under the yellow flag so I was explaining what I felt there and my impression of the moment and how far you lift off.

    “It was a little bit late from myself, but to be honest I lifted when I saw the yellow flag. Maybe it’s late, but hopefully it’s okay.”

  5. World champion Lewis Hamilton credited set-up changes made between morning practice and qualifying for taking third on the grid for the Japanese Grand Prix.

    Hamilton had struggled for balance during free practice despite setting the sixth fastest time, and had not expected to be capable of qualifying so strongly.

    “We didn’t expect to be as competitive as we were this afternoon,” said Hamilton. “Our car was tricky this morning and we had to make some significant changes between sessions.

    “It was impossible to extract the best from the car, especially through the first sector. We didn’t have much time to develop a dry set-up so we went into qualifying hoping that the changes would work – and they did.”

    Hamilton is unsure of whether he will be in the fight for victory tomorrow, with pole position starter Sebastian Vettel clear favourite for Red Bull, but is hopeful that the advantage of KERS will help him make up ground at the start.

    “I would love to win here tomorrow, and I’ll do everything I can to do so,” he said. “Although the Red Bull will be very hard to beat, there’s a long run down to Turn One and our KERS is working better than ever.

    “Sebastian has more to worry about than I do, too. He’ll be looking at the world championship, I’m just here to have a good time and score some points for my team to help us move further up the Constructors’ Championship table.”

    Team-mate Heikki Kovalainen will start ninth after crashing at the first Degner early in Q3.

    “I went a bit too fast into Turn Eight, over the kerb, and the car broke out and I couldn’t get it back on the track,” said Kovalainen. “So it was game over.

    “Today’s three accidents prove that everybody is pushing the limit as much as possible as the running time in the dry was very limited. The car felt good, the balance was okay and we should be in good shape for tomorrow.”


  6. Ferrari’s Kimi Raikkonen – who is leaving the team at the end of the year to make way for Fernando Alonso – could only manage fourth, despite pushing the F60 as much as he could. Read on for the Finn’s view on qualifying plus team-mate Giancarlo Fisichella’s performance in the other red car.

    Kimi Raikkonen said he had extracted the maximum from his Ferrari in order to qualify in eighth position for the Japanese Grand prix.

    “I don’t think we could have expected much more today,” said Raikkonen, who admitted there is not much Ferrari can do considering the lack of development.

    “We know what our potential is and we have to accept that. Here, the situation is definitely better than in Singapore, but we continue to struggle, especially with a lack of aerodynamic downforce, which makes itself felt especially in the first sector.

    “Overall, the car is working well and it’s nice to drive on such a demanding track as this, where the slightest error is heavily punished, as we saw today. It’s a shame I didn’t have new soft tyres for Q3, but we had to use them earlier to avoid being knocked out: all in all it was a good qualifying.

    “Tomorrow, we will try and have a good race: it will be difficult to fight for the top spots, but we will try and we can count on having a good strategy.”

    His Italian team-mate Giancarlo Fisichella had another disappointing day after failing to reach Q2 for the second race in a row.

    Fisichella will start from 16th position after a costly mistake in the first session cost him the time to advance into Q2.

    “I am very disappointed not to have made it through to Q2,” he said. “We only had this morning’s free practice to prepare the car in the dry, but I think all the same, I improved my performance level, growing ever more confident in the F60.

    “On my final timed lap, I made a mistake which probably cost me the time I needed to get into the next part. Tomorrow, the aim is to get into the points: I know it will be very difficult, starting from the eighth row, but with a good strategy, maybe I can do it.”

  7. Drivers are carrying much higher speed through Suzuka’s Degner Curves than when Formula 1 last visited the Japanese track in 2006, that is the view of Jaime Alguersuari after the Spaniard crashed his Toro Rosso at that section of the track during qualifying.

    Several drivers, including Alguersuari’s team-mate Sebastien Buemi, Mark Webber and Heikki Kovalainen all had accidents at the Degner Curves on Saturday.

    The 19-year-old believes that a combination of the higher speeds and rough kerbs on the outside of the corner could be contributing factors to the spate of crashes.

    “You need to brake a little bit and stay in sixth gear – it’s a really fast corner, much faster than it looks,” said Alguersuari. “And when you take a bit of kerb the car gets very unstable.

    “Perhaps they should change the kerbs for next year as this is not one of the best tracks for safety in the world.

    “You carry a lot more corner speed in these cars than you did in 2006. With the slick tyres it’s crazy how fast you can be mid-corner. And there is no run-off here, the wall is quite near to the track.”

    Alguersuari added that he wasn’t too disappointed not to have missed an opportunity to go for Q3, adding that even the accident added to his experience level in F1.

    “I think I’m quite happy to be honest, I never expected to be in Q2 this year and unfortunately there is also the disappointment with the crash,” he said. “I feel sorry for the team and the mechanics and hopefully it won’t happen again. But it’s experience for me.

    “We have a new floor, so we have more downforce and we are faster as a result. It’s a shame for Sebastian [Buemi] and myself that we couldn’t get any dry running here yesterday at the track.

    “As for my experience it’s better to get as much track familiarisation as possible. But I guess that is the same for everyone.”


  8. Rubens Barrichello has called for more safety revisions to be introduced to Suzuka, following the spate of accidents in Formula 1 practice and qualifying for the Japanese Grand Prix on Saturday.

    Timo Glock was hospitalised with a cut to his left leg after crashing out of Q2, while Red Bull driver Mark Webber, and both Scuderia Toro Rosso drivers Sebastien Buemi and Jaime Alguersuari, as well as McLaren’s Heikki Kovalainen all crashed at the Degner Curves during the day.

    And while the Japanese circuit has made several changes following its re-inclusion on the F1 calendar, including switching to a high-intensity asphalt run-off into Turn 1, Barrichello believes more must be done to make the circuit safer.

    “It is a fantastic track,” he told the BBC. “It is equal the best with Spa and Silverstone, but it is still very dangerous.

    “They have to do something with Suzuka, because although the resurfacing is a lot better, we need to have more escape areas and things like this.

    “We could see that with so many inexperienced drivers, like the Toro Rosso drivers, they went off and it’s pretty dangerous out there still.”

    Barrichello eventually qualified fifth for the race, two places his Brawn team-mate and championship rival Jenson Button.

    “I’m happy,” the Brazilian said about his qualifying performance. “My Q1 and Q2 times show that I was slower than Jenson, so to beat him on the same fuel level for Q3 is an aim that I have reached. I know it’s very little, because at the end of the day when you are fighting for pole position, but when you don’t have the car to achieve it, that’s where you have got to aim.

    “In comparison to Button we have pretty much the same level of fuel so I’ll be fine. But in comparison with some guys at the front I don’t know. We didn’t have a very competitive session.”


  9. From the 2009 season, the FIA is making public the weights of the cars, with their fuel load included, following Saturday’s qualifying session.

    Below is the revised grid – following penalties – with fuel loads and predictions to the first pitstops.

    Grid Name Weight Fuel (kg) First stint (laps)
    1. Sebastian Vettel 658.5 53.5 18
    2. Jarno Trulli 655.5 50.5 17
    3. Lewis Hamilton 656 51 17
    4. Nick Heidfeld 660 55 18
    5. Kimi Raikkonen 661 56 19
    6. Nico Rosberg 684.5 79.5 27
    7. Robert Kubica 686 81 28
    8. Adrian Sutil 650 45 15
    9. Rubens Barrichelllo 660.5 55.5 19
    10. Jaime Alguersuari 682.5 77.5 27
    11. Jenson Button 658.5 53.5 18
    12. Giancarlo Fisichella 661.5 56.5 19
    13. Heikki Kovalainen 675 70 24
    14. Sebastien Buemi 665.4 60.4 20
    15. Kazuki Nakajima 695.7 90.7 31
    16. Romain Grosjean 691.8 86.8 30
    17. Fernando Alonso 689.5 84.5 29
    18. Vitantonio Liuzzi 682.5 77.5 27
    19. Timo Glock – –
    20. Mark Webber – –

  10. Five Formula 1 drivers were given penalties for not lifting off during a yellow-flag period in qualifying for the Japanese Grand Prix.

    Championship leader Jenson Button, team-mate Rubens Barrichello, Renault driver Fernando Alonso, Force India’s Adrian Sutil and Toro Rosso’s Sebastien Buemi were given five-place grid penalties after the session.

    The race stewards deemed the first four drivers had not lifted off sufficiently at the end of Q2, when Buemi had crashed, leaving debris on track.

    Brawn team boss Ross Brawn said his drivers, who had not set a time until then, had not lifted at all.

    “No, they swerved to avoid the problem. But they didn’t lift off, no,” said Brawn.

    Swiss driver Buemi was also reprimanded by the stewards for driving back to the pits with a damaged car and impeding other drivers.

    Button had qualified in seventh, Barrichello in fifth, Alonso in 12th, Sutil in fourth and Buemi in 10th.

    Pos Driver Team
    1. Vettel Red Bull-Renault
    2. Trulli Toyota
    3. Hamilton McLaren-Mercedes
    4. Heidfeld BMW-Sauber
    5. Raikkonen Ferrari
    6. Rosberg Williams-Toyota
    7. Kubica BMW-Sauber
    8. Sutil Force India-Mercedes *
    9. Barrichello Brawn-Mercedes *
    10. Alguersuari Toro Rosso-Ferrari
    11. Button Brawn-Mercedes *
    12. Fisichella Ferrari
    13. Kovalainen McLaren-Mercedes **
    14. Buemi Toro Rosso-Ferrari *
    15. Nakajima Williams-Toyota
    16. Grosjean Renault
    17. Alonso Renault *
    18. Liuzzi Force India-Mercedes **
    19. Glock Toyota ***
    20. Webber Red Bull-Renault ***

    * Five-place grid penalty
    ** Five-place grid penalty for changing gearbox
    *** Will use new chassis so will start from the pitlane

    That means the two title rivals at Brawn will start in the mid-field (Barrichello P10 with Button P12) while Red Bull’s Vettel is out in front in pole position.

  11. Jenson Button says he is not expecting to win the world championship in Japan in the wake of the raft of grid penalties that have moved him and team-mate Rubens Barrichello down the order.

    The Brawn GP duo, plus Fernando Alonso and Adrian Sutil, were all demoted five places on the grid for the Suzuka race after they failed to slow down through a yellow flag zone in Q2 caused by Sebastien Buemi crashing on the exit of Spoon Corner.

    That stewards’ decision moves Barrichello and Button provisionally down to 10th and 12th position on the grid, and the British driver admitted late on Saturday night that the situation now makes it unlikely he will take the points he needs to be champion on Sunday.

    “It possibly could happen tomorrow, but that is not the way I am looking at it,” Button explained. “I am looking at it as any other race – as it is. It is another race.

    “If I was able to win the championship, something would seriously have to go wrong with the other drivers – so I am not expecting it. I go into tomorrow just looking forward to scoring points and finishing as high as I can.”

    Button believes he was correct in not lifting when going through the incident, but he fully respects the reasons why the race stewards punished him.

    “From my point of view I did the right thing,” he said. “I took avoiding action and when I saw the yellow flag, it was just before where the incident was with the front wing. I moved to one side.

    “I thought, for me, it was unsafe to lift off because there could have been a car behind and you also don’t want to be moving across the circuit at high speed and lifting. Then, as soon as I passed the front wing I saw the green flag down the circuit, so I knew it was clear – and kept my foot in. That was it.

    “The regulations say that you have to slow down enough and you have to lift off the throttle, which I didn’t do. So I got penalised. I respect their decision, but for me at that moment in time it was the best thing to do in that one second to make my decision. But I respect the decision.

    “I am down in 12th, Rubens is just in front in 10th, and there are a couple of slow cars in front of him. So it is going to be an exciting race for us I think, the first few laps.”

    Button believes that with Sebastian Vettel having proved so strong in Saturday running, victory for the German on Sunday would put him firmly back in the title hunt.

    That is why he has set his own target as simply finishing in the points – which could prove vital in deciding the outcome of the championship battle.

    “Vettel is starting in pole, and if he wins the race it puts him in the chase and he is back in the championship hunt,” said Button. “And they [Red Bull] are very, very quick around here.

    “They have been stonkingly quick around here all day, so if [Lewis] Hamilton does not get him off the line I think Vettel will walk it. But we will make the best out of the situation we are in.”

    He added: “This won’t be the only race that gives me the world championship if I am going to win it. It is every single race from here on in. If I finish five points in front of Rubens I can still win the championship, but that is not something I am concentrating on.

    “In a straightforward race, Vettel is going to score a lot of points here. We are going to circuits that will suit our car a lot more – Brazil, which is more low speed corners, but especially Abu Dhabi. Nobody has been there yet, which is exciting to me, and it is a circuit that is very low speed – so it should suit our car.

    “It is very exciting and very tense, but this is a moment I should be enjoying, which I am. It is great for F1 obviously seeing Vettel at the front and us back in 10th and 12th.”


  12. Timo Glock will not race in the Japanese Grand Prix, the Toyota team confirmed on Sunday morning, following the German’s heavy qualifying accident yesterday.

    Glock was airlifted to hospital after he sustained a 5cm cut on his lower left leg and reported back pain when he crashed into the outside barrier running wide on the exit of the chicane.

    Though X-Rays revealed no serious injuries, the team said in statement that it had decided to rest Glock to ensure he is fully fit for the Brazilian Grand Prix in two weeks time.

    The team confirmed that it had applied for permission for reserve driver Kamui Kobayashi to race, after the Japanese rookie had stood in for Glock during Friday practice when the German had a cold. But Toyota’s application was rejected by race stewards due to a regulation which states that a driver must participate in at least one practice session on the second day of the event.

    “Together with my physio I tried everything to be fit for the Japanese Grand Prix but in the end it is not possible for me to race,” said Glock. “It is a pity to miss Toyota’s home race and I’m annoyed that this happened.

    “I want to say thanks to my car crew because they worked all night to fix the damage and get it ready for the race. They did a great job but unfortunately I can’t race, however I am sure I will be back in Brazil.”


  13. Timo Glock confidently expects to return to action in Brazil after being sidelined from Sunday’s Japanese Grand Prix at Suzuka following his heavy qualifying accident.

    The 27-year-old German sustained a deep cut in the back of his lower left leg, and was flown to hospital following his accident on the exit of the chicane during Q2.

    And while Toyota initially hoped Glock would be fit enough to race in Japan, it has been decided that he should wait a fortnight before driving the car again.

    “It should be quite easy for Brazil,” he explained on Sunday morning, having returned to the circuit. “The problem at the moment is that I don’t have pain when I put pressure on the leg.

    “It is [more] the cut that does not give me the flexibility I need, and I think in two or three days it already should be a big step.

    “Already from yesterday, I could not walk. Today I can walk. So in two or three days it should be much better, and in 10 days it should be okay. So Brazil should not be a problem.

    “The cut is exactly across the back of my leg, behind the knee,” he added. “It is six centimetres long. It was across the leg, which is the main problem, as it was quite open. It is also quite deep, so overall I am lucky that there was no damage to muscles or ligaments. They just closed it with 14 stitches and that is it.

    “At the end of the day we tried everything overnight, in terms of physiotherapy to get it more flexible, but the problem is that I cannot just stretch it completely due to the cut and the stitches.

    “In the end we worked until 2am tonight, and my physio did quite a nice job. But in the end, it is not possible to drive.”

    Glock admitted that the accident was caused by his own mistake and dismissed speculation that he may have encountered a problem with his steering wheel.

    “That is wrong,” he said. “Everything on the car was okay, 100 percent, unfortunately it was my mistake.

    “It was just a mistake on my side. I had a bit of oversteer out of the last chicane and tried to take as much speed as possible out of the last corner. I opened the steering wheel, because I saw I was on a good time for Q2, and I just opened the steering wheel and at the last moment tried to turn back again.

    “Then I misjudged around 50 centimetres – I thought I was half a metre to the right, but I wasn’t. Then I just touched the grass slightly with the front left wheel and then the car just took off and I had no chance.”


  14. Red Bull Racing boss Christian Horner says his team’s plan is simply to go on the attack in the Japanese Grand Prix – as it starts from both ends of the grid.

    The aerodynamic strengths of Red Bull’s RB5 chassis has allowed Vettel to take pole position, but his team-mate Mark Webber will be forced to start from the pit lane after damaging his car in a Saturday morning practice accident.

    Horner says that the team will not be worrying about the championship implications – the plan is purely to go out and fight.

    “It’s a Red Bull sandwich,” said Horner. “We’ve got to attack the race from both ends of the grid, just go for it and do the best we can.

    “We saw in qualifying that there were quite a lot of incidents, so who knows what the race will throw at us?”

    The spate of accidents that marred qualifying has highlighted the challenges of the Suzuka circuit – and makes it likely that Sunday’s race will be incident-filled.

    Horner thinks that the nature of the track, allied to the fact that drivers lost a day of dry running on Friday, explains why there were so many crashes.

    “I think it’s just one of those days with not a great deal of time for drivers to get their eye,” he said. “There was a lot of pressure going into qualifying, so perhaps that contributed to it. And it’s an unforgiving track. Sebastian was fortunate to do two sessions in the BMW in 2006 and that stood him in good stead.”


  15. Jenson Button’s hopes of wrapping up the world championship in Sunday’s Japanese Grand Prix have suffered another blow after the publication of the provisional grid for the race.

    With the FIA having worked out the application of the numerous penalties handed out after qualifying, the result is that Button will start the Suzuka race from 10th on the grid, four places behind Brawn team-mate Rubens Barrichello.

    But worse than being so far adrift of his championship rival, is the fact that between Barrichello and Button are two one-stopping cars Nico Rosberg and Robert Kubica.

    Furthermore, Heikki Kovalainen’s KERS-equipped McLaren will be starting alongside Button on the clean side of the circuit, so there is a chance that the Briton will lose a further place away from the grid.

    Button needs to score five more points than Barrichello to clinch the title in Japan and prevent the battle being taken to the next race in Brazil.

    The penalties handed out after qualifying are always applied in the order in which they were committed. The fact that Barrichello committed his offence of ignoring yellow flags before Button and Sutil means that he has lucked in to effectively losing just one place on the grid.

    Pos Driver Weight (kg)
    1. Vettel Red Bull-Renault 658.5
    2. Trulli Toyota 655.5
    3. Hamilton McLaren-Mercedes 656.0
    4. Heidfeld BMW-Sauber 660.0
    5. Raikkonen Ferrari 661.0
    6. Barrichello Brawn-Mercedes 660.5 *
    7. Rosberg Williams-Toyota 684.5
    8. Sutil Force India-Mercedes 650.0 *
    9. Kubica BMW-Sauber 686.0
    10. Button Brawn-Mercedes 658.5 *
    11. Kovalainen McLaren-Mercedes 675.0 **
    12. Alguersuari Toro Rosso-Ferrari 682.5
    13. Buemi Toro Rosso-Ferrari 665.4 *
    14. Fisichella Ferrari 661.5
    15. Nakajima Williams-Toyota 695.7
    16. Alonso Renault 689.5 *
    17. Grosjean Renault 691.8
    18. Liuzzi Force India-Mercedes 682.5 **
    19. Webber Red Bull-Renault – ***
    20. Glock Toyota – ****

    * Five-place grid penalty
    ** Five-place grid penalty for changing gearbox
    *** New chassis so will start from the pitlane
    **** Will not start due to injury


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