Vettel edges out Button to take Suzuka pole

Sebastian Vettel claimed his twelfth pole position of the season at the Suzuka International Circuit, denying Jenson Button to the top spot by a tiny margin of only nine-thousandths of a second.

After setting the quickest times in all three practice sessions, it seemed that Button and McLaren can finally stop Red Bull Racing’s excellent qualifying form this season.

Lewis Hamilton was on provisional pole, but in a bid to improve his lap time at the end of Q3, the McLaren driver timed his final run too late and was passed by Mark Webber and Michael Schumacher at the chicane prior to the start of his lap.

His initial time of one minute, 30.617 seconds was beaten by the championship leader with a lap time of one minute, 30.466 seconds.

That left it up to Button to try and interrupt Red Bull Racing’s pole position form, but the Friday pacesetter fell agonisingly short… Vettel can claim this year’s world championship on Sunday by just scoring a single point, or if Button fails to win.

Hamilton ended up in third, while the Scuderia were fourth and fifth, Felipe Massa ahead of Fernando Alonso by 0.062 seconds. The latter had to abandon his first Q3 run after going off the track at Spoon Curve.

Red Bull’s Mark Webber could only manage sixth, despite setting the fastest sector one time.

Michael Schumacher was one of several drivers not to set a Q3 time as he saved a set of Pirellis for the race. His Mercedes team-mate Nico Rosberg was unable to run at all following a hydraulic issue that kept him in the garage and he will start in a disappointing P23.

Kamui Kobayashi delighted his home crowd by using the Option tyre to set the outright pace in Q1, then made it through to Q3, where he chose to save the tyres and did not set a flying lap.

Renault adopted the same tyre strategy with Bruno Senna and Vitaly Petrov starting eighth and ninth.

The Force Indias of Paul di Resta and Adrian Sutil did not quite make Q3, but will share row sixth and ahead of the Williams of Rubens Barrichello and Pastor Maldonado.

Having shown some top ten potential in practice, Toro Rosso looked like it might reach Q3 after the initial Q2 runs. But the team chose not to run again and the end of the session, so Sebastien Buemi and Jaime Alguersuari found themselves pushed down to the eighth row.

Sergio Perez will start in P17 but suffered a hydraulic problem in the Sauber, so was unable to set a Q2 time.

While at the back of the grid, Team Lotus kept a one-second cushion over Virgin Racing, with Jerome D’Ambrosio out-qualifying his team-mate Timo Glock. Tonio Liuzzi’s bad weekend continued as his HRT developed further problems early in Q1 and stopped him setting a time.

By taking the all-important pole position at Suzuka ahead of his only realistic championship rival, Sebastian Vettel is only one step away from becoming the youngest back-to-back world champion. Can the German achieve this dream result on his favourite circuit? We will find out after 53 laps on Sunday.

Qualifying times from Suzuka:

1.  Sebastian Vettel      Red Bull-Renault     1m30.466s
2.  Jenson Button         McLaren-Mercedes     1m30.475s
3.  Lewis Hamilton        McLaren-Mercedes     1m30.617s
4.  Felipe Massa          Ferrari              1m30.804s
5.  Fernando Alonso       Ferrari              1m30.886s
6.  Mark Webber           Red Bull-Renault     1m31.156s
7.  Kamui Kobayashi       Sauber-Ferrari       No time*
8.  Michael Schumacher    Mercedes             No time
9.  Bruno Senna           Renault              No time
10.  Vitaly Petrov         Renault              No time
11. Adrian Sutil          Force India-Mercedes 1m32.463s
12. Paul di Resta         Force India-Mercedes 1m32.746s
13. Rubens Barrichello    Williams-Cosworth    1m33.079s
14. Pastor Maldonado     Williams-Cosworth 1m33.224s
15.  Sebastien Buemi       Toro Rosso-Ferrari   1m33.227s
16.  Jaime Alguersuari     Toro Rosso-Ferrari   1m33.427s
17.  Sergio Perez          Sauber-Ferrari       No time
18.  Heikki Kovalainen     Lotus-Renault        1m35.454s
19.  Jarno Trulli          Lotus-Renault        1m35.514s
20.  Jerome D’Ambrosio     Virgin-Cosworth      1m36.439s
21.  Timo Glock            Virgin-Cosworth      1m36.507s
22.  Daniel Ricciardo      HRT-Cosworth         1m37.846s
23.  Nico Rosberg          Mercedes             No time
24.  Tonio Liuzzi          HRT-Cosworth         No time

107 per cent time: 1m39.109s

*Originally listed as tenth, Kobayashi will in fact start seventh as he attempted to start a flying lap.

11 thoughts to “Vettel edges out Button to take Suzuka pole”

  1. Championship leader Sebastian Vettel was thrilled to take his twelfth pole position of the season and has admitted it was the toughest of the year. has the story.

    Sebastian Vettel described his 12th pole position of the 2011 season as his toughest of the year so far, saying he was delighted to deliver the result despite a tough build-up at Suzuka.

    Vettel had a minor accident in Friday morning practice that cost him a lot of track time, and had then been concerned that he could not match pacesetter Jenson Button’s McLaren in the remaining sessions.

    But in qualifying he managed to find more pace and edged out Button by 0.009 seconds.

    “What a qualifying,” said Vettel. “Yesterday I went off in free practice and damaged the wing, so it wasn’t ideal in the afternoon to prepare the car for today.

    “We suffered a bit this morning in particular where we were kind of coming back regarding car balance but we were too slow.

    “We sat down after the practice session this morning and fortunately got everything together and were able to get every single bit out of the car in qualifying.

    “It was crucial, there’s not much between Jenson Button and myself. It was a tough qualifying but I enjoyed it a lot. It is a long lap, you have a mega first sector, every time it is a challenge, it’s hard to get it right. I had a bit of a wobble in the first sector but got it right in the second sector.”

    If Vettel scores a single point in tomorrow’s race, he will clinch the world championship for a second straight year. But he said he would banish that thought from his mind until the race was over.

    “Regarding the point or no point, I am not really focusing on that,” he said.

    “I had a lesson yesterday where I didn’t do a big mistake, but for a little moment I was not 100 per cent focused and lost the car.

    “Tomorrow is a long race and a very challenging race. We start from pole position and it will be very special tomorrow. Lot of things can happen and DRS can open a couple of chances so we’ll see where we are.

    “We had a good racecar yesterday in preparation so it should be alright. I am looking forward to the race, not the point.”

  2. After setting the pace in all three practice sessions, McLaren’s Jenson Button just missed on pole position at Suzuka to Sebastian Vettel by a margin of 0.009 seconds. has the details.

    Jenson Button admitted he felt his fastest lap in qualifying for the Japanese Grand Prix would be enough for pole, the Briton claiming he got everything out of his car.

    The McLaren driver came very close to ending Sebastian Vettel’s run of pole positions at Suzuka, the German beating him with a superb final lap by just 0.009 seconds.

    The British driver, who will start from second ahead of team-mate Lewis Hamilton, said there was nothing else to extract from his car.

    Button also admitted he was delighted to see such a small gap to Vettel on a track that was supposed to favour Red Bull.

    “It has been a pretty good weekend,” said Button. “As always I love driving around here, Suzuka is a phenomenal circuit, and when the car working around here it is ideal.

    “I was building up to Q3 and thought that last lap would be enough – but it was nine thousandths, so not good enough.

    “I felt like I got everything out of the car. I had a bit of oversteer on the last run but maybe I was pushing too hard. It’s great from team to be close to Red Bull on a circuit where they have been dominant in the past.”

  3. McLaren’s Lewis Hamilton was left feeling frustrated and commented that Michael Schumacher’s move at the chicane was dangerous. has the story.

    Lewis Hamilton was left frustrated after he was unable to complete his final run in qualifying for the Japanese Grand Prix, labelling his incident with Michael Schumacher as dangerous.

    The Briton did not cross the finish line in time to start another run after he was overtaken by Mark Webber and Schumacher during his warm-up lap.

    Hamilton admitted he was surprised by the situation, as he believes Webber’s and Schumacher’s moves were dangerous.

    “You could see on TV. I would have to watch replay,” said Hamilton. “Jenson was in front of me, he slowed down to get his gap and I was coming to the last corner trying to make sure I had a gap between him and me.

    “It wasn’t that big and then just was I was coming into the chicane, I looked in the mirror and saw Mark diving inside me. And then I didn’t see Michael but he came past me and we nearly crashed with me to the left. It was quite dangerous.”

    Hamilton had looked like one of the favourites for pole, but his failure to complete the final run left him down in third, which he labelled as good enough.

    “It is what it is. But we are still on second row so that is good enough,” he said.

    Schumacher, meanwhile, said Hamilton had pushed him onto the grass.

    “I had Webber in front because Hamilton slowed down. I don’t know what was in front of him, if he really had to slow down that much, but it was tight for all three of us so we all had to push somehow to make it through and do another lap.

    “At that moment I was set to do a lap because I didn’t know whether Kobayashi, or somebody, may go out [to set a time]. I tried my best and Lewis pushed me a little bit wide onto the grass. I made it through, but a bit of an awkward start of a qualifying lap.”

    The Mercedes driver said he final lap had not been compromised too much by the incident, but he still believes Hamilton was driving too slowly.

    “Not really [compromised], luckily nobody else – or at least Kobayashi – didn’t go out again to set another lap, because that would have meant I would have been shy by probably a second. Which was a bit stupid – at the last chicane everybody was driving so slow.

    “I saw my time, so I knew I had to go through somehow otherwise I wouldn’t make it. I just missed it [the flag] by a second. Bit of a shame, but it didn’t make a problem in the end.”

  4. Toro Rosso says it deliberately prioritised its race plans over qualifying at Suzuka – but still had regrets over its handling of the session after seeing its cars consigned to the eighth row of the Japanese Grand Prix grid.

    Although Sebastien Buemi and Jaime Alguersuari had shown promising speed in practice, they will start only 15th and 16th. Alguersuari went into qualifying intending to be conservative and save tyres for the race, but Buemi had hoped to do better had he not made a mistake on his first run.

    “I got a super lap in Q1, but I cannot be happy with Q2, because I made a mistake on the exit of Turn 9, hitting the kerb a bit too hard which sent me off into the grass, costing me around half a second,” he said.

    “I am disappointed about that because I’ve ended up behind the Williams, when we could easily have been ahead of them.

    “They don’t give out any points for qualifying, so we took the decision to save tyres for the race and we will see if that was the right choice tomorrow. Tyre degradation is quite heavy, which means that having new tyres will be important in the race.”

    Toro Rosso’s technical chief Giorgio Ascanelli rued not sending Buemi out again – and also admitted that the team had been forced to remove some development parts which had been critical to its Friday speed.

    “We looked good in Friday’s FP1, but then we had to back-pedal on performance as we had concerns over reliability with some of the new elements we were running here,” he said.

    “But today, we did not get it right and it was not a good performance, neither in how we engineered the session, nor in our capacity to produce a good lap time.

    “With hindsight, possibly we should have given Sebastien another set of tyres and sent him out again at the end of Q2. There would not have been much point doing that with Jaime because he had too much understeer and we could not fix it, which was not quite the same picture we had seen this morning. Actually, this should work in his favour for the race, because according to our numbers, the rear tyres will be very difficult to manage tomorrow, which explains the amount of understeer Jaime had this afternoon. Sebastien was happier with the car, but he made a mistake on track.

    “As usual, I tried to privilege the race rather than qualifying, which is why we did not send him out again and inevitably, some people moved ahead of us.”

    Having come through from lowly grid positions to score points on five occasions so far this year, Alguersuari said he had no concerns about being 16th.

    “We could have had a much better qualifying in performance terms, but we had concentrated on the race in terms of our set-up and aero balance,” he said.

    “Therefore, even if the grid position is not so good, I am quite happy because I feel that tomorrow I will have a car strong enough to score some points. I could have gone quicker this afternoon, but we decided to save tyres as well as run with a race set-up. I expect we can see a situation similar to Valencia and Monza, being very quick in the race.

    “We have tried to focus a lot on the race in terms of getting consistency from the tyres, even if that was going to penalise us this afternoon.”


  5. HRT driver Tonio Liuzzi rues a ‘terrible’ weekend so far after more problems in qualifying. has the details.

    Tonio Liuzzi has labelled his Japanese Grand Prix weekend so far as ‘terrible’ after hitting more problems on Saturday.

    The Italian managed just four laps on Friday after he was replaced by Narain Karthikeyan in first practice and then stopped with problems in the afternoon.

    On Saturday, the Italian completed just eight laps in final practice before an engine issue sidelined him.

    In qualifying, the HRT driver failed to set a time after being hit by more problems.

    Since he hasn’t set a time within the 107 per cent all weekend, Liuzzi will need the stewards to give him the green light to race on Sunday.

    “It’s been a terrible start to the weekend,” said Liuzzi. “Yesterday I could only do four laps, eight this morning after an engine issue and this afternoon again problems so in the end I’ve hardly done any laps in two days.

    “We’ll start from last position, which isn’t very positive, and it’s a shame because the few laps we did weren’t too bad. But this is one of the best races of the season with a great atmosphere so I’m hoping to put this behind me and have a good race tomorrow.”

    Team-mate Daniel Ricciardo enjoyed a better day once more, the Australian qualifying in 22nd position.

    “From my point of view it was not a bad session,” he said. “I approached it well and did what I had to do. In qualifying you have to push 100% and I definitely did that. I went a little bit wide in some areas from pushing too much but I’d say I only lost about a tenth which isn’t enough to get in front of our rivals.

    “I am satisfied because the balance of the car was the best it’s been all weekend but the others have also improved and we have to keep on working. Anyways it’s time to focus on the race where I’m keen to put in a good performance.”

  6. Mark Webber described the Suzuka Q3 traffic jam involving his Red Bull, Lewis Hamilton’s McLaren and Michael Schumacher’s Mercedes as an unfortunate accident of timing, but nobody’s fault.

    All three cars were trying to make it across the line to start final Q3 runs before the chequered flag fell in Japan.

    Webber and Schumacher came upon Hamilton as the McLaren – which was not far behind team-mate Jenson Button’s car – slowed at the chicane, and went either side to pass it, with Schumacher slithering across the grass.

    As a result, neither Hamilton nor Schumacher made it to the line in time, and Webber’s lap was compromised having gone off-line.

    Hamilton’s first lap had been good enough for third still, while Webber had to settle for sixth and Schumacher did not set a Q3 time in the end.

    “I didn’t want to pass [Hamilton] at all. I didn’t want to get involved in any of that,” said Webber.

    “But the team are saying ‘come on, come on, get on with it, we’re not going to be able to start the lap, you’ve got to push through the last chicane…’

    “Lewis was obviously waiting for JB. Michael was coming. I thought ‘it can’t be that bad because Michael’s not all over me, so the guys are obviously leaving a bit of a margin’ but then when we got to the chicane Lewis was sort of stopped.

    “We all wanted to be the one car starting that lap, but with three of us it wasn’t going to go. So that was a bit of a mess.”

    Webber added: “Lewis tried to block, then kept going, because he obviously didn’t want me to pass. I got through, but very low.

    “It was s**t for all of us. We all just wanted to open up a lap, but 10 minutes is the session time and we all got backed up.”

    The Australian underlined that he did not think Hamilton had been doing anything particularly wrong.

    “He was looking for his three seconds to JB, I was looking for my three seconds to Lewis,” said Webber.

    He said the compromised start to his lap was just one of several issues that left him on row three.

    “I’d started the lap with quite a bit of dirt on the tyres and we saw the reflection of that in sector one,” Webber said. “I made a little mistake in the hairpin and didn’t open the DRS from the hairpin to Spoon [because the system will not activate without the throttle 100 per cent open]. I don’t know how much time I lost with that. It didn’t help.”

    Webber’s Red Bull team-mate Sebastian Vettel took his 12th pole of the year at Suzuka, just ahead of Jenson Button’s McLaren. But Webber is not sure that the qualifying results are an accurate indication of the race form.

    “We saw Fernando [Alonso] in Singapore – a pretty strong qualifying and you would expect him to have a really good race. But he had a poor race. And JB’s last stint [in Singapore] was in a different category,” said Webber.

    “There’s no real trend to Saturday and Sunday even at this point in the championship.

    “I think generally if you have done a pretty good job in qualifying, you’re still going to be okay in the race. But it’s still pretty hard to predict.

    “Tyres are going to be the key. We’ll see what happens with the DRS but I don’t think it’s going to be like Turkey. Tyres will play a role. A lot of people were pretty keen to save a set.”


  7. Ferrari’s Fernando Alonso was not surprised by a lack of pace after qualifying fifth. has the details.

    Fernando Alonso admitted he was not surprised by his result in qualifying for the Japanese Grand Prix, despite finishing in fifth position.

    The Ferrari driver was nearly half a second off the pace of pace-setter Sebastian Vettel, also being outqualified by team-mate Felipe Massa for the second time this season.

    Alonso said he expected to be unable to match the Red Bulls and McLaren, and was at least pleased to have outpaced Mark Webber.

    “I am not very surprised by this result: at the end of the day, McLaren and Red Bull have been quicker than us all weekend long and at least we have managed to get ahead of Webber,” said Alonso.

    “I seem to have a season ticket for fifth place this year and at least it means I start from the clean side of the track.

    “Tomorrow I expect significant tyre degradation to be a key feature of the race, with the possibility of several pit stops, which means strategy will play a very important role. We hope we won’t have the same problems as in Singapore two weeks ago.

    “We will try and make the best choices and fight for a podium finish, which is a realistic target. The win is certainly less so: as we saw in qualifying, McLaren seem very close to Red Bull here.”

    Team-mate Massa qualified in fourth position in what he labelled as a tough qualifying.

    The Brazilian was also happy to have outqualified a Red Bull, and downplayed the significance of starting alongside Lewis Hamilton, with whom he clashed at the Singapore Grand Prix.

    “It was a difficult qualifying session but at least we managed to keep one of the four best cars behind us,” he said. “It’s never easy here to put together the perfect lap and my last run was very good, even if I lost a little bit in the final sector. Tomorrow, it will be important to get a good start.

    “Hamilton alongside me on the grid? It makes no difference to me if it’s him or anyone else. The race looks like being a complicated one, with a lot of stops to change tyres that show significant degradation here, so it follows that strategy will play a key role.

    “It will be vital to find the right pace, so as to be quick, but at the same time, save the tyres. Overtaking will not be easy, despite KERS and DRS: maybe tyre wear will count for more, given that you come onto the main straight off a very slow chicane. Our aim is the podium: we’re starting one place off it, so it’s a realistic expectation.”

  8. Nico Rosberg and Tonio Liuzzi have been given the green light to race in the Japanese Grand Prix despite failing to set a time in qualifying.

    Mercedes driver Rosberg was unable to complete a lap after being hit by a hydraulic problem early on. He will start from 23rd position.

    “On my first lap out in Q1, the team advised that I had a problem and asked me to come back into the pits,” explained Rosberg.

    “We tried to fix it in time for me to complete a lap, however the hydraulic systems are quite complicated and there just wasn’t enough time. So for the race, I have a promising strategy with all the new tyres that I have! But seriously, I will push and try to get into the top ten. That will be my aim tomorrow.”

    HRT driver Liuzzi also suffered technical issues that prevented him from running in Q1.

    Although the Italian has not set a time a time within the 107 per cent all weekend, stewards have allowed him to race on Sunday.


  9. Christian Horner has revealed that a new front wing helped Sebastian Vettel to take pole position at the Japanese Grand Prix. has the story.

    Red Bull Racing team principal Christian Horner has revealed that the new front wing parts that helped Sebastian Vettel claim a sensational pole position for the Japanese Grand Prix only arrived at the track 30 minutes before qualifying.

    Vettel broke his only version of the front wing with an off during first practice on Friday, so the team had to push ahead with work at the Milton Keynes factory to prepare new endplates.

    These were then put on a commercial plane from London to Nagoya overnight, before being couriered by helicopter to the Suzuka track shortly before qualifying got under way.

    With the team believing the wing was worth a few tenths, having the new parts on the car almost certainly helped Vettel maintain Red Bull Racing’s lock-out of pole positions so far this season.

    Speaking about the wing situation, Horner said: “It was the epitome of team work. We were short of a component on Friday, which is why Sebastian looked a little bit distressed with himself because the one bit of the car that he didn’t want to damage was the front wing on Friday.

    “But the guys back at base made a Herculean effort to bring forward the production of another component, get it onto a flight and get it to the circuit only half an hour before qualifying itself. It was phenomenal.

    “The part came out here with a carrier, then to Nagoya and helicopter from there. It was a fantastic effort. The main thing was that wing, we were not due to see it before Korea, so the effort that went in overnight back in Milton Keynes was just phenomenal and hats off to the boys and girls for doing that.”

    And although Vettel is aiming to clinch his second world title at Suzuka this weekend, Horner said no thought was given to taking the new wing off Mark Webber’s car – bearing in mind the controversy that happened at Silverstone last year when the team did exactly that.

    “No, because it was a different situation,” he said. “The failure at Silverstone was a component failure, and the situation yesterday was quite clearly a driver error, so there was never any question of taking the wing off Mark’s car. So Sebastian ran an older specification prior to that.”

    Horner praised Vettel’s effort in the closing stages of qualifying as he edged out Jenson Button by just nine thousandths of a second.

    “It definitely required something a bit special from him on that last run and he duly delivered it,” he said. “It was a phenomenal lap to get the pole. He should be very pleased with that one; I think it was one of his best laps of the year.”

    When asked if he thought McLaren’s strong single-lap pace this weekend had put pole position out of Red Bull Racing’s grasp before qualifying, Horner said: “I thought the McLarens particularly were going to be very hard to beat today.

    “They have looked pretty quick over one lap all weekend, and it is a matter of trying to find that balance between race pace and qualifying, trying not to abuse the tyre too much. And that is what we have focused on, but we will see tomorrow. Hopefully we can have a very strong race pace tomorrow.”

  10. Pirelli motorsport boss Paul Hembery believes the fans are being robbed of a show in qualifying with the current Formula 1 regulations.

    With the softer tyres dropping off dramatically around Suzuka, several teams decided to limit their running in qualifying on Saturday in order to save sets that could be vital for the race.

    Only six drivers posted a time in the final qualifying segment, while many others did just one run during the session.

    Hembery believes something needs to be done to stop teams from not running during qualifying.

    “I think it’s up to us to work with the teams to come up with a solution,” said Hembery. “We are robbing the fans of a show. They paid good money to come here today.

    “I’m not criticising the teams because I know why they’ve done it, because they are using the rules to obtain the best result, so it’s not a case of that. But I think we have to look at the wider picture and all of us work together to find a solution.

    “It’s something we discussed with a few of the teams over the last few days and I hope that we can set up something in Korea and start working on some solutions. We are open to any suggestions from the teams. I think we all recognise that something needs to be done.”

    He also reckons there are plenty of possible solutions to the problem, and it’s up to the them to find one that suits all the teams.

    “I think we need to get more tyres, find another solution, get qualifying tyres, force teams to use the Q2 tyres in Q3…. There’s a multitude of ideas that we can discuss.

    “They all have positives and negatives, of course. There’s never the perfect solution, but I think sitting on a table and being sensible there has to be a way of finding something that suits everyone.”

    Hembery reckons, however, that any change to the rules is unlikely to happen before next season.

    “I think it needs to be done for next year, being realistic. It’s a complex area, because it falls in two categories: sporting and technical. It’s not particularly clear.”

    Mercedes team boss Ross Brawn also reckons the situation needs to be looked at for the good of the sport.

    “I suspect we have probably got to have a look at it. Having the back four cars in qualifying not running properly to conserve tyres for the race is not really where we want to be in Formula 1.

    “Over the winter we will have a look at how we improve the situation to remove the incentive for cars to save tyres in the final part of qualifying.

    “I don’t think any of us really want it, so that’s how it has evolved. We will work hard to find a solution with the FIA and Pirelli over the winter to avoid it happening because I don’t generally think it’s a good thing. We should all be out there trying to set a time.”

    When asked how to solve the issue, Brawn said: “I don’t know. We don’t want to start introducing more sets of tyres and having a situation where you have to start the race on the tyres you qualify on is not a bad situation, but perhaps that’s something we need to look at.

    “The simple way to resolve it is more sets of tyres, but there might be a more efficient way of solving the problem.”


  11. Sauber’s Kamui Kobayashi will start his home race from seventh place on the grid after the sport’s governing body revealed the official line-up for Sunday’s Japanese Grand Prix. has the details.

    Kamui Kobayashi will start the Japanese Grand Prix from seventh position after the FIA revealed the official grid for tomorrow’s race.

    The Sauber driver, who did not set a time in Q3, had originally qualified in 10th, but with the three drivers in front of him having failed to set a time too, the Japanese will actually start from seventh.

    Formula 1 rules state that if a driver fails to set a time, the grid will be determined in the following order:

    1. Any driver who attempted to set a qualifying time by starting a flying lap;

    2. Any driver who failed to start a flying lap;

    3. Any driver who failed to leave the pits during the period.

    Even though he did not set a time, Kobayashi had started a flying lap, unlike the three drivers in front of him.

    Mercedes’s Michael Schumacher will start from eighth ahead of the Renaults of Bruno Senna and Vitaly Petrov.

    Mercedes boss Ross Brawn said the team attempted to get Schumacher to start a flying lap, but the German ran out of time because of traffic in front of him.

    “Once we saw some of the times in Q3, we thought it was doubtful that we would be able to beat those times. So we wanted to remain at the front of that group and once it became clear that the other cars were not going to attempt a time, then we had to start the lap.

    “Unfortunately, we sent Michael out and a lot of cars in front then started stacking up. Michael knew that he had to start the lap so was trying to get through so he could. It’s under discussion with the FIA what’s going to happen. That’s why we were pushing to try and start the lap.”

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