Red Bull Racing front row in Japan as Webber outqualfies Vettel

Webber Japan 2013 qualifying

Mark Webber ended his Red Bull Racing’s team-mate Sebastian Vettel’s qualifying supremacy by beating the champion-elect to pole position at Suzuka.

Vettel was handicap with a loss of KERS on his first Q3 run and was four tenths of a second adrift from his Australian’s provisional pole.

His KERS was restarted but his second run was not enough good enough to beat Webber, who then improved his pole position time to one minute, 30.915 seconds.

This result meant not only was this is his first pole of the season, he also out-qualified Vettel.

Lewis Hamilton will start the Japanese Grand Prix in third, winning the tight qualifying battle from Romain Grosjean and Felipe Massa.

As for his Mercedes team-mate Nico Rosberg, he was 0.144 seconds slower and will line up sixth on the grid.

Ferrari’s Fernando Alonso was only eighth quickest, three tenths of a second off Massa and pushed back a further position by a flying Nico Hulkenberg in the Sauber.

Alonso will face an uphill battle if his championship rival wins the Japanese Grand Prix on Sunday so getting a good start will be key to his race.

Yet again, Kimi Raikkonen struggled for qualifying speed in the Lotus, lapping 0.319s slower than Grosjean as he ended up five positions adrift.

While McLaren’s Jenson Button rounded off the top ten at Suzuka.

The Q2 session was extraordinarily close, with barely half a second covering P2 to P14.

Sergio Perez ended up on the wrong end of the cut-off in eleventh and yet ahead of Paul di Resta.

The Force India driver had a much better qualifying session than his team-mate Adrian Sutil, who picked up a gearbox-change penalty following his FP3 crash and then struggled for speed. P17 was the end result.

The main action in Q1 was a bizarre fire on both the rear brakes of Jean-Eric Vergne’s Toro Rosso. The Frenchman had to park on the exit of the hairpin and the session was briefly red-flagged so that the track marshals could deal with the fire safely.

That left Vergne in P18, while his team-mate Daniel Ricciardo could only managed two places higher as he trailed the Q2 pack.

Those dramas helped Williams to an encouraging P13 and P15, Valtteri Bottas and Pastor Maldonado respectively.

They were split by Esteban Gutierrez, whose Sauber caught fire in the pit garage halfway through Q1. There was no damage and he was able to continue qualifying.

Marussia’s Max Chilton produced the best qualifying performance of his Formula 1 career so far to beat the Caterhams and his team-mate Jules Bianchi to P19.

Both Charles Pic and Bianchi will serve a ten-place grid penalties following incidents in last weekend’s Korean Grand Prix. The pair will share the back row.

So a fantastic lap by Mark Webber. His twelfth in Formula 1 and crucially ahead of his Red Bull Racing team-mate. Can Sebastian Vettel win the title on race day? He needs to overtake the pole sitter and hope that Fernando Alonso finishes outside the top eight. It’s going to be a fascinating Japanese Grand Prix.

Qualifying positions at Suzuka:

1. Mark Webber           Red Bull-Renault     1m30.915s
2. Sebastian Vettel      Red Bull-Renault     1m31.089s
3. Lewis Hamilton        Mercedes             1m31.253s
4. Romain Grosjean       Lotus-Renault        1m31.365s
5. Felipe Massa          Ferrari              1m31.378s
6. Nico Rosberg          Mercedes             1m31.397s
7. Nico Hulkenberg       Sauber-Ferrari       1m31.644s
8. Fernando Alonso       Ferrari              1m31.665s
9. Kimi Raikkonen        Lotus-Renault        1m31.684s
10. Jenson Button         McLaren-Mercedes     1m31.827s
11. Sergio Perez          McLaren-Mercedes     1m31.989s
12. Paul di Resta         Force India-Mercedes 1m31.992s
13. Valtteri Bottas       Williams-Renault     1m32.013s
14. Esteban Gutierrez     Sauber-Ferrari       1m32.063s
15. Pastor Maldonado      Williams-Renault     1m32.093s
16. Daniel Ricciardo      Toro Rosso-Ferrari   1m32.485s
17. Jean-Eric Vergne      Toro Rosso-Ferrari   1m33.357s
18. Max Chilton           Marussia-Cosworth    1m34.320s
19. Giedo van der Garde   Caterham-Renault     1m34.879s
20. Charles Pic           Caterham-Renault     1m34.556s*
21. Jules Bianchi         Marussia-Cosworth    1m34.958s*
22. Adrian Sutil          Force India-Mercedes 1m32.890s**

107 per cent time: 1m38.251s

*Ten-place penalty for incurring three reprimands during the season
**Five-place penalty for gearbox change

9 thoughts to “Red Bull Racing front row in Japan as Webber outqualfies Vettel”

  1. After taking pole position in Suzuka, Mark Webber has commented that this was a perfect farewell to a fantastic racing circuit. has the details.

    Mark Webber said his Japanese Grand Prix pole lap will leave him with unforgettable memories from his final Formula 1 season.

    The Australian beat his Red Bull team-mate Sebastian Vettel in qualifying for the first time all season at Suzuka, claiming his first pole of 2013 in the process.

    “It is a nice farewell to have pole at my last attempt at Suzuka, a phenomenal track,” said Webber.

    “I will never forget the first sector today – it is what we strive for, what our profession is for, so it was a real highlight today.”

    Vettel’s pole shot was hampered by KERS malfunctions during qualifying, but Webber did not think that detracted from his result.

    “You have to take them when you get them,” said Webber. “Obviously I’ve attempted to qualify without the weapons before.”

    Webber is confident his pole will not come under any threat from the officials after an incident with McLaren’s Sergio Perez in Q2.

    “He backed off, the engineers told me he’d finished his lap so I could pull in front of him,” said Webber.

    “If he was on a quick lap I would have got out of the way.”

  2. As for his Red Bull team-mate Sebastian Vettel, the world champion has said that his KERS was not to issue despite missing out on pole position. has the news story.

    Sebastian Vettel refused to blame his KERS problems for missing out on Japanese Grand Prix pole, saying that team-mate Mark Webber simply proved out of reach.

    Vettel was hobbled by a failure on his energy recovery system on his first flyer, and ended up four tenths of a second adrift of Webber.

    The team was able to fix the problem in time for a second run, but Vettel once again fell short of Webber’s benchmark.

    The German denied the issue had interrupted his rhythm and detracted from his efforts to deny Webber.

    “We had a problem this morning but I don’t think it made a difference in terms of finding a rhythm – we have plenty of laps around this track,” Vettel said.

    “Congratulations to Mark, he did a great lap.

    “I am not a fan of ‘if this, without this’ – it is always without this, and without it we are P2.

    “I’m happy with the result [and the] front row for the team, which is great. The car was phenomenal today.”

    Vettel said the fact he ran wide at Spoon on his first flyer was proof he was on the limit.

    “I think we are all pushing to the limit today: with the wind giving some gusts here or there, we are pushing and mistakes happen”, he added.

    “I kept it on the track, and second time around I was a bit more conservative.”

  3. Mercedes driver Lewis Hamilton said third was the best result due to set-up gamble in qualifying. has the details.

    Lewis Hamilton admitted he took a more aggressive qualifying set-up than team-mate Nico Rosberg in order to secure his slot on the second row for the Japanese Grand Prix.

    After feeling that his best hope of being high up on the grid was to favour the single lap pace, Hamilton says he went in a different set-up direction.

    “They [the set-ups] are a little bit different, but Nico generally was quicker on the longer runs,” he said.

    “He had a happier balance and it was with the settings he has now.

    “I went with a bit more of an aggressive approach, which may or may not be as kind on the tyres. We will see.

    “I feel that we are both in a good position for tomorrow.”

    Despite emerging as Red Bull’s closest challenger, Hamilton did not feel that his lap was particularly good.

    “I felt mine was pretty bad and it didn’t feel that great,” he said. “I just didn’t get the most out of it – the first two sectors particularly.

    “There was more available and I wasn’t able to extract it. Nico had a better lap, but the last sector was strong for me.”

    Although Hamilton got close to the Red Bulls in qualifying, he is under no illusions how difficult things will be on Sunday, as he doubts Mercedes has the speed to match Mark Webber or Sebastian Vettel.

    “The race is about beating Ferraris and also the Lotus’s,” he said.

    “They have scored a lot of points – in the last race they got 33 points. So we want to beat both those teams.

    “Red Bull? We are not in their league at the moment.

    “The aim is to win as always, so when you start the race the mind is set on winning, but if those Red Bulls get into the first corner 1-2 then they will be gone.

    “The Lotus is quick on the long run but still I think the Red Bull has got so much time in its pocket.”

  4. Lotus driver Kimi Raikkonen plays down the Romain Grosjean deficit after qualifying. has the news story.

    Kimi Raikkonen insists he is happier at the Japanese Grand Prix than in recent races despite qualifying his Lotus down the field again.

    Raikkonen has not qualified in the top six since the Hungarian GP in late July, and will start ninth at Suzuka.

    His team-mate Romain Grosjean was fourth fastest in qualifying, but Raikkonen played down the single-lap disparity.

    “There were a couple of small mistakes, and we lost a few places from that, but the car is pretty much normal,” he said.

    “I’m much happier than I was at the previous race even though the starting place is the same.”

    Despite his poor qualifying form, Raikkonen has charged through to the podium in the last two grands prix and is confident that will continue.

    “We haven’t had very good qualifying lately, but we’ve still been up there in the races, so that’s what counts,” he said.

    “Obviously I would have like to qualify higher but last time it wasn’t a disaster.”

    Grosjean was thrilled to qualify as high as fourth, having suspected in practice that Lotus was off the pace.

    “We worked hard last night trying to analyse what was right, what was wrong and what we could do to help that and the feeling was pretty clear,” he said.

    “The first lap this morning, the car felt very different and very competitive.

    “I was very surprised on the hard [tyre] because yesterday we were something like two seconds off the pace and today we were one of the quickest.”

  5. McLaren driver Jenson Button has revealed that tenth was the maximum result after pushing to the limits in qualifying. has the story.

    Jenson Button believes his 10th place in qualifying for the Japanese Grand Prix represents the McLaren’s maximum potential at Suzuka.

    Button said he while he was pleased to have made it into Q3, his consistency over qualifying proved he could not have extracted more from his car.

    “That’s as quick as the car will go; I couldn’t go any quicker than that,” Button said.

    “I did three laps of 1m31.8s, a quarter of a tenth between all of them. That’s the limit and I couldn’t find anything else out there.

    “At least we got the maximum out of it [the car] and I don’t think we could have done any more with the set-up.

    “It’s tough that’s only tenth but we are where we are. The car feels good, we’re just not quick enough.”

    Team-mate Sergio Perez, who narrowly missed the Q3 cut, said his crash in Friday practice had put him on the back foot heading into qualifying.

    “Obviously with the accident yesterday we lost a lot of track time, so today we had to recover with some set-up changes,” he said.

    “In the end we missed by just half a tenth – we were extremely close to making Q3.

    “Not ideal, but on the other hand I think we’re in a good position in tomorrow to score points.”

  6. Sauber says fuel vapour was the cause of the dramatic fire on Esteban Gutierrez’s car during Japanese Grand Prix qualifying.

    The brief blaze on top of the car while it was in the garage between Q1 runs was swiftly extinguished.

    Gutierrez was able to rapidly rejoin the session and went on to qualify 14th.

    Sauber’s engineering chief Tom McCullough said it was not yet clear where the fuel vapour came from.

    “There was a little bit of fuel vapour that caught fire, presumably from a breather or something to do with the connector – but I’m not sure of the cause,” he told AUTOSPORT.

    “There was no damage to the car, it just burned in the air.

    “It looked impressive but it was very little fuel.

    “It happens every now and again with a hot car on a quick refuel. No harm done.”

    Sauber qualified in the top 10 again at Suzuka as Nico Hulkenberg took seventh.

    “He got all we had out of the car today,” said McCullough.

    “The grid was very, very tight from the front to the back of Q2.

    “Williams and Force India were strong, Toro Rosso a bit slow in that first sector but it was very, very tight and Esteban was unlucky just to miss out on Q3 by a tiny margin after doing a very good job all weekend.

    “Nico squeezed everything out of it. Again we felt there was a bit more to come in Q3 so we decided to have a go and in the end seventh is much better than 10th.”


  7. Ferrari’s Fernando Alonso will be keeping his title alive despite a difficult qualifying session. has the news story.

    Fernando Alonso says prolonging the 2013 Formula 1 title battle will not be on his mind in the Japanese Grand Prix as he focuses on getting his Ferrari ahead of Mercedes.

    Another disappointing qualifying session left Alonso back in eighth on the Suzuka grid, with Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg qualifying third and sixth for Mercedes – Ferrari’s rival for second in the constructors’ championship.

    Alonso needs to finish in the top eight in order to delay Sebastian Vettel’s coronation as a four-time world champion, but he said that was of little interest.

    “If Sebastian didn’t win the championship here, he’ll win in India or Abu Dhabi because the combination of results [he needs] will be less and less strange,” said Alonso.

    “It’s not our aim for the weekend, we’re not trying to finish in the top eight just to keep the championship alive.

    “We will race to score as many points as possible and try to finish in front of the Mercedes.

    “That’s the important goal for us; keeping the championship open until India will not change much for us.”

    Alonso sees little reason why Ferrari’s form might change in the remaining races of 2013.

    “We keep repeating the same thing – we are not in a position to fight with anyone,” he said.

    “We have some problems in terms of pace and performance that won’t change in the remaining races because we have no new parts.

    “I’m not frustrated to be honest, for four years we have been one second behind Red Bull. We were seventh in Korea, we didn’t have the pace, we arrived here five days later and we didn’t expect any miracles.

    “We are making the maximum effort every weekend, we know some of the difficulties we have, we know some of our strong points – the start, the strategy, the degradation.

    “We normally use them to score many points on Sunday, which has allowed us to be second in the drivers’ and constructors’ championships.”

    Felipe Massa outqualified Alonso again and will start fifth. The Brazilian believes his driving style proved more effective at Suzuka.

    “It’s the way we drive. Normally Fernando is pretty aggressive on the front, maybe he suffered with understeer a little bit,” said Massa.

    “Some tracks are maybe better for the way he drives and other tracks he suffers a little bit more. He will be good in the race tomorrow, definitely.”

    Massa laughed off any suggestion that he would be susceptible to team orders in the grand prix to help prolong Alonso’s title hopes.

    “[Mark] Webber has no reason to care about Vettel, I have no reason to care for Fernando, and both Mercedes plus [Romain] Grosjean will try to fight as well,” he said.

    “I think the race will be pretty open for everybody.”

  8. Toro Rosso’s Jean-Eric Vergne’s fire was caused by stuck brakes. The qualifying session had to be red flagged briefly following this incident. has the details.

    Jean-Eric Vergne’s fire during qualifying for the Japanese Grand Prix was caused by his Toro Rosso’s rear brakes not releasing properly.

    The Frenchman was forced to pull off at the exit of the hairpin in Q1 after both his rear-left and rear-right brakes caught fire.

    This is understood to have been caused by the rear brake system retaining hydraulic pressure even when the driver was off the brake pedal, although why this happened is yet to be established.

    The problem is not related to the front brake issue that forced both cars to retire from last week’s Korean GP, which was traced to a brake duct problem.

    “All we know is that the brake pads got stuck, both on the right and the left and it caught fire,” Vergne told AUTOSPORT.

    “It is may be something in the [braking] system, we are not sure at the moment and the team is investigating.”

    Vergne is confident that that the fire that resulted from the brake flames igniting the bodywork has not done any more serious damage.

    He ended up 18th fastest in Q1 based on his run on hard-compound Pirellis and will start 17th thanks to Adrian Sutil’s five-place grid penalty.

    “Hopefully the gearbox is fine and I’m quite confident that I’m going to start the race from 17th position without any problems with the car,” said Vergne.

    “Yesterday was really hard with my car, we worked a lot with my car and it was going to be a lot better in qualifying because I was on a good trend.

    “The laptime with the prime was not representative because I made a mistake on that lap and I knew I would improve a lot on the option.

    “It’s a shame because with my car we had the opportunity to do well.”

  9. Sauber has been fined €20,000 after Nico Hulkenberg blocked Max Chilton during final free practice for the Japanese Grand Prix.

    Although Hulkenberg did all he could to get out of Chilton’s way towards the end of the session, and Marussia was not too upset, the stewards were unhappy that Sauber had given its driver incorrect information.

    A statement from the officials said: “The team of car #11 [Hulkenberg] advised him by radio that car #23 [Chilton] was on a ‘cool down’ lap.

    “Car #11 was preparing for a fast lap when the driver realised car #23 was immediately behind him and tried his best to give car #23 the apex.

    “The team of car #23 does not believe the incident amounted to illegitimately impeding.

    “However, whilst the driver of car #11 is not found to be in breach of article 16.1(g) [for impeding], we determined the team to be responsible for the incident, which was potentially dangerous, by issuing an incorrect message.”

    Hulkenberg qualified seventh for the Suzuka race, while Chilton outpaced his back-of-the-grid rivals to take 19th.


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