Red Bull banzai Suzuka

October 6, 2012 5:05 pm

Sebastian Vettel and Mark Webber gave Red Bull double cause for celebration this morning after they qualified 1st and 2nd for tomorrow’s Japanese Formula One Grand Prix.

Championship leader Fernando Alonso could only watch on in horror as the Red Bull duo qualified well clear of their main rivals and signalled their intent to reduce his leading points margin come the race.

(L-R) Mark Webber, Sebastian Vettel & Jenson Button

Britain’s Jenson Button was the only man able to get anywhere near the dominant energy-drink firm cars as he occupied a lonely 3rd place, four tenths off of pole and well clear of the chasing pack behind him. However, a five-place grid penalty for a gearbox change leaves Button starting 8th and with a hard job ahead of him tomorrow afternoon. Teammate Lewis Hamilton had an even harder session as he was slowest of anyone in the final top ten shootout behind future Mercedes stablemate Nico Rosberg, although he starts 9th as Force India’s Nico Hulkenberg elected not to run his car during the session.

Button’s penalty elevates Japanese hero Kamui Kobayashi to an excellent 3rd place on the start grid, the highest ever start position for a Japanese driver in front of his home crowd. He can be forgiven for being a tad nervous though as Lotus driver Romain Grosjean, who has achieved notoriety for his startline accidents this year, is alongside him on the grid. Sergio Perez showed good speed in the other Sauber machine to take 5th place, while Alonso jumped ahead of Kimi Raikkonen for 6th after the Finnish driver span off the circuit on his final qualifying lap. Alonso had his final lap ruined after Sebastian Vettel inadvertently blocked him at the chicane while slowing down after his qualifying lap. The reigning World Champion escaped with a reprimand although many believe a penalty should have been applied.

Lewis Hamilton didn’t go much faster than this – he starts 9th

Scot Paul Di Resta lines up 11th in his Force India, behind Felipe Massa. They are ahead of Pastor Maldonado, Nico Rosberg (who also has a grid penalty), Daniel Ricciardo, Nico Hulkenberg and Bruno Senna, who felt his qualifying was cut short by Toro Rosso driver Jean-Eric Vergne who blocked him at the chicane in a similar manner to Vettel. The Frenchman later earned a three-place grid penalty for his part in the affair, adding to the drivers already suffering from penalties. Michael Schumacher had a miserable afternoon, only 13th fastest before his ten-place penalty for his accident in Singapore was applied, leaving him languishing in 23rd.

 

Suzuka is an incredibly hard track to overtake on; and 95% of the winners so far this season have started from the front row of the grid. A statistic Red Bull will be eyeing with some interest when the lights go out and the race gets started tomorrow…

Anthony French

 

 

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