• Japanese Grand Prix - Qualifying

Vettel edges out Button for pole

ESPNF1 Staff
October 8, 2011

Sebastian Vettel took pole position for the Japanese Grand Prix as he just pipped Jenson Button at Suzuka.

Vettel took advantage of a mistake from Lewis Hamilton - crossing the line a few seconds after the chequered flag fell - to snatch pole, with Button setting a time just 0.009s slower for second place. Hamilton starts third despite the error, alongside Felipe Massa, with Fernando Alonso fifth and Mark Webber sixth.

Kamui Kobayashi starts seventh ahead of Michael Schumacher who made the same mistake as Hamilton, with Bruno Senna ninth and Vitaly Petrov tenth. All four failed to set a time but only Kobayashi began a timed lap, elevating him above the other three who are ranked in car number order.

It was a strange end to the session as McLaren had looked quickest and Hamilton emerging in qualifying as the favourite for pole. However, going in to the final chicane Hamilton was swamped by Webber on the inside and Schumacher on the outside, leaving him unable to cross the line in time to set a lap.

On the first runs, Hamilton was first across the line and set the provisional pole time, with everyone filing across in order; Button came across second ahead of Vettel and then Webber. Alonso ran wide and was forced to abandon his lap.

Senna delivered a great lap at the end of Q2 to make it through just 0.050s slower than his team-mate despite having limited running following a crash in FP3. Kobayashi's lap pleased the home crowd as he went all out for a place in the final session to sneak through in tenth. However, the Toro Rossos and Paul di Resta went for one run in Q2 as they tried to save tyres with Christian Horner telling the BBC before qualifying that the race could see "between three and five stops". Sergio Perez didn't set a time at all as he suffered from a hydraulics problem.

The first session turned out to be a bit of a non-event as Nico Rosberg also suffered with a hydraulics issue which prevented him from setting a time. That meant that the bottom seven dropping out was decided very early as none of Lotus, Virgin or HRT had the pace to challenge the midfield. Tonio Liuzzi endured another bad session as he didn't set a time either, and a lack of running in practice means he is yet to set a time within 107%.

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