Sebastian Vettel claimed pole position in Japan on Saturday with teammate Mark Webber taking second on the grid in a session disrupted by a Kimi Raikkonen crash in Q3.
Jenson Button qualified his McLaren third on Saturday but will start the race from 8th tomorrow after a five place grid penalty for an unscheduled gearbox change. Kamui Kobayashi took fourth place in the first Sauber at his home grand prix whilst Lotus’ Romain Grosjean qualified fifth, they will start third and fourth respectively following Button’s penalty. Sergio Perez qualified the second Sauber sixth and will start fifth in a good qualifying session for them.
Ferrari’s Fernando Alonso had to settle for qualifying seventh after his run was impeded by Raikkonen’s crash but will start sixth after penalties are applied. Alonso also suggested that Vettel had impeded him during his flying lap, Vettel was later reprimanded but kept pole position.
Raikkonen managed to qualify eighth despite his crash but will start seventh due to Button’s penalty. His crash on his second run in Q3 also prevented Lewis Hamilton from improving and he will start from ninth. Nico Hulkenberg reached Q3 but decided not to run, he also has a five place grid penalty for an unscheduled gearbox change following his FP3 crash and will start tomorrows race from 15th.
Felipe Massa in the second Ferrari was knocked out in Q2 along with Paul di Resta they will start tomorrows race from tenth and 11th respectively after the penalties are applied. Michael Schumacher finished the session in 13th but will start 23rd following his 10 place grid penalty from Singapore. Pastor Maldonado, Nico Rosberg and the Toro Rosso’s of Daniel Ricciardo and Jena-Eric Vergne were also knocked out in Q2. Vergne was later given a penalty for impeding Bruno Senna and will consequently start 19th. Senna was knocked out in Q1 but following Vergne’s penalty will start 16th.
At the back of the grid HRT appeared to have made a break through with Pedro de la Rosa who qualified 21st and will start 20th after Schumacher’s penalty.
With all the penalties applied Red Bull are in the best position when compared with their rivals. Ferrari and McLaren will start at the back end of the top ten and will hope to exploit the Sauber’s and Lotus’ in front of them in order to challenge Red Bull. Assessing Red Bull’s performance over the weekend so far they look set to secure victory at Suzuka on Sunday.