Red Bull’s Sebastian Vettel will be the man leading from the front of the grid when the 2012 FIA Formula One Japanese Grand Prix gets underway tomorrow, after securing his fourth consecutive pole position at the circuit. The reigning double World Champion has added to his growing records in the sport as he has now secured his 34th career pole to date.
Vettel’s Australian team mate, Mark Webber came through qualifying to make it an all Red Bull front row for the first time this season ahead of the race.
While McLaren’s Jenson Button crossed the line to qualify in 3rd place, but after taking his five place grid penalty into account for an unscheduled gearbox change, the 2009 World Champion will now start the Grand Prix from 8th position.
At the time of Raikkonen’s mishap, Sauber’s Kamui Kobayashi was on a fast lap as the yellow flags came out. There is speculation though that the stewards may look into this, to see if he had already set his time after passing them. Until a decision is made Kobayashi will start the race from third place.
Raikkonen’s team mate, Romain Grosjean is also set to benefit by moving up one place from his qualifying spot and is due to start the race from fourth place. The Frenchman showed good pace in the early stages of the proceedings and was the fastest and leading man at the end of Q1.
Kobayashi’s Mexican team mate, Sergio Perez was also another of the midfield group who got in the mix with the current top Championship contenders. Towards the end of Q2, Perez looked to be in a spot of bother though and was in 12th place at first, but managed to get himself through to Q3 but knocked Force India’s Paul Di Resta out in the process. Perez moves up into fifth place for the race tomorrow after the shakeup in the grid with Button’s penalty.
Ferrari’s Felipe Massa will take advantage of this shuffle in the pack and will line up on the grid in 10th position. Massa’s Spanish team mate, Fernando Alonso made it through to the top 10 shootout unlike Massa and he will start from sixth place as a result of Button’s penalty.
Button’s team mate, Lewis Hamilton did not have luck on his side when the yellow flags came out for Raikkonen’s incident and the Englishman will have to battle to the front from ninth place.
Mercedes driver, Michael Schumacher had a mixed qualifying session after making it through to Q2 by the skin of his teeth. The German’s fortune changed by the end of Q2 and he got knocked out at that stage. Schumacher qualified in 13th place but with his 10 place grid penalty in place from the Singapore Grand Prix he will start from 23rd position.
Williams driver, Pastor Maldonado had a fairly problem free qualifying session but did not have enough pace to catch his closest midfield rivals. The Venezuelan driver will move up a couple of places ahead of a select few though as a result of Hulkenberg and Schumacher’s penalties and will begin the race from 12th position.
Schumacher’s team mate and fellow countryman, Nico Rosberg seemed to keep out of the limelight in qualifying and is another driver who gets automatic promotion at the misfortune of Hulkenberg and Schumacher moving down the field. Rosberg will have to make his way through the field from 13th place.
Toro Rosso’s Daniel Ricciardo was the better of the two drivers in the team and the Australian will start the race from 14th place with Hulkenberg and Schumacher’s penalties and he will be ahead of his team mate, Jean-Eric Vergne who will start from 16th place. The Frenchman caused a bit of upset on the part of Williams driver Bruno Senna in Q1. There was controversy when Vergne was on a slow lap and appeared to hold up Senna who was on a fast one. It is yet to be confirmed what the stewards will decide on this incident and whether Vergne will have to face the consequences of his actions.
Senna was among the first seven drivers who fell at the first hurdle, but his misfortune was not helped by Vergne’s intervention. Senna will begin the race from 17th place tomorrow due to Schumacher’s penalty.
Towards the back of the field the newest teams in the sport were slightly jumbled up in their grid positions. It seems that Caterham are still the ones to beat and Heikki Kovalainen proved this to be the case today. The Finnish driver pipped Marussia’s Timo Glock in qualifying and with Schumacher’s penalty in place, Kovalainen will line up in 18th position for the grid.
Hispania Racing’s Pedro de la Rosa had a personal achievement of his own as well and the Spaniard will start the race from 20th place just ahead of Marussia’s Charles Pic.
The second Caterham car of Vitaly Petrov was slightly off the pace compared to his team mate, which means the Russian driver will line up in 22nd position.
The second Hispania Racing car of Narain Karthikeyan will make up the grid at the back and just alongside Schumacher to start from 24th place.
After managing to overcome the first crucial day at the challenging Suzuka track, Vettel marked the 50th anniversary of the circuit in a perfect way by securing pole position. Celebrations are likely to be in full swing for the occasion and it is certain the pole sitter, Vettel will be hoping to have his own tomorrow as long as he keeps his closest rival behind him if he wants to cross the line first.
Story by: Hannah Taylor