There were no major shocks in this morning’s wet qualifying session at the Fuji Speedway but two of the drivers from the back of the grid did pop up in the top ten – Jenson Button and Sebastian Vettel.
However Adrian Sutil, who impressed in wet practice at Monte-Carlo earlier this year, failed to progress beyond the first part of qualifying will line up 20th.
Button is becoming regarded as something of a rain master. Having scored his maiden Grand Prix win in the wet at the Hungaroring last year, the only chance he’s had to impress in the wet this year came at the Nürburgring. He shot through the field to run fourth until he became one of many drivers to be caught out by deep water at turn one.
In the first part of qualifying today he was tenth, 0.7s quicker than team mate Rubens Barrichello, who was 17th and eliminated in the first round.
He ended the second part of qualifying sixth with a 1’24.454, 0.7s slower than Lewis Hamilton in first but, most importantly, making it through to the final ten.
Loaded up with fuel in the final part of qualifying he took seventh and will move up to sixth on the grid tomorrow following Nico Rosberg’s engine change. If he can finish in the same position or higher then Honda will at last last overhaul Super Aguri in the constructors’ championship.
Vettel’s performance in qualifying was a vindication of Toro Rosso’s faith in the driver, who took over from Scott Speed earlier this year.
He is yet to get the better of team mate Vitantonio Liuzzi over a race distance – except when Liuzzi’s car has let him down – but he became the first Toro Rosso driver to make it into the final stage of qualifying this year.
The pair of them made it into the second part together, but Vettel’s 1’25.909 in that part was 1.039s quicker than Liuzzi and scraped him into the top ten, knocking out Giancarlo Fisichella by 0.024s.
In the final part he was comfortably quicker than Robert Kubica – who may be gambling on a heavy fuel load for tomorrow. Following Rosberg’s engine penalty Vettel will start eighth tomorrow – just one place lower than he did on his F1 debut at Indianapolis for BMW.
Photo: GEPA / Bildagentur Kraeling
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