• Japanese Grand Prix - Qualifying

Vettel confirms rapid pace by taking pole for Red Bull

ESPNF1 Staff
October 10, 2010 « Hamilton handed five place grid penalty for gearbox change | »
Sebastian Vettel took pole at Suzuka © Getty Images

Sebastian Vettel lived up to expectations at Suzuka by taking pole for the Japanese Grand Prix ahead of Red Bull team-mate Mark Webber.

The rescheduled qualifying took place in sunny conditions with a track damp in places but still suitable for slick tyres. Vettel hooked up two very quick laps in Q3 and Webber couldn't match either of them despite getting within a tenth of a second. However, with a comfortable gap over Lewis Hamilton's third fastest time, championship leader Webber looks in a good position for the race and neither Red Bull will have to take any risks.

Hamilton will start from eighth due to a gearbox penalty meaning Robert Kubica will start third ahead of Fernando Alonso in the Ferrari, who never looked capable of challenging for the front row. However, it could get worse for Hamilton, who is currently under investigation for blocking Nico Hulkenberg during Q3.

Jenson Button took an alternative strategy by opting for hard tyres in the hope that he will be able to go longer early in the race and then maximise the softs when the track has rubbered in. He starts fifth.

Nico Rosberg will start sixth ahead of the two Williams and Mercedes team-mate Michael Schumacher, who just squeezed through to Q3 with a last-gasp lap.

One man who didn't make it through to Q3 was Ferrari's Felipe Massa, who starts 12th behind Sauber's Nick Heidfeld. Massa made a mistake early in his lap and then continued to lose time as he struggled to get his Ferrari pointed at the apices of Suzuka's fast corners. While Massa is not a championship contender, Ferrari was hoping he could help take points off Alonso's rivals.

Force India and Toro Rosso failed to live up to expectations after a good showing on Friday and the four cars will line up on the grid ahead of the usual suspects at the back led by Lotus and Jarno Trulli.