• Japanese Grand Prix - Qualifying

Webber beats Vettel to Suzuka pole

Chris Medland October 12, 2013
Mark Webber secured his first pole position of the year at Suzuka © Sutton Images
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Mark Webber took pole position for the Japanese Grand Prix as he beat team-mate Sebastian Vettel at Suzuka.

With Vettel struggling with a KERS issue at the start of Q3, Webber took full advantage to go over 0.3s quicker than his team-mate and set the provisional pole time. On the second runs Vettel was still unable to beat Webber's time and his team-mate then improved again to consolidate pole position.

Lewis Hamilton was last over the line but could only put his Mercedes third on the grid alongside Romain Grosjean, with Felipe Massa and Nico Rosberg making up row three.

It was another disappointing Saturday for both Fernando Alonso and Kimi Raikkonen, with Nico Hulkenberg in seventh place outqualifying them both. Alonso starts from eighth and can't lose any more ground in the race - if Vettel were to win - in order to keep the championship alive.

The two Red Bulls set a blistering pace on their only runs in Q2, with Vettel 0.2s clear of Webber. With everyone else then going out for another run at the end of the session the times bunched up and just half a second covered Webber down to 15th place. Ultimately a late lap from Massa took him through and knocked out Sergio Perez. Paul di Resta also just missed out, and while Valtteri Bottas and Pastor Maldonado did too it was the first time both Williams cars had been in Q2 since Hungary.

Q1 was briefly red-flagged with three minutes remaining as Jean-Eric Vergne's Toro Rosso caught fire. The rear brakes had overheated on his car and he pulled over with both brakes alight, with the session stopped due to the smoke billowing across the track as marshals tried to put the fire out.

That led to a mad dash at the end of the first part of qualifying with only Webber, Hamilton, Alonso, Vettel and Jenson Button not taking to the track. With Vergne having been in 16th place before his problem, he dropped out along with Adrian Sutil - who receives a five-place grid penalty for changing his gearbox after his FP3 crash.

There was a good performance from Max Chilton as he outqualified both his team-mate Jules Bianchi and the Caterhams. While Bianchi and Charles Pic came in to the session with 10-place grid penalties hanging over them, to be comfortably clear of both Caterhams was impressive and Chilton told Sky Sports afterwards that he was "chuffed" with what he described as "a mega lap".