Vettel continues Suzuka dominance with fourth pole

2012 Japanese GP qualifying

Mark Webber, Sebastian Vettel, Jenson Button, Suzuka, 2012Sebastian Vettel claimed pole position for the Japanese Grand Prix at Suzuka for the fourth year in a row.

The reigning champion was rarely challenged during qualifying and heads an all-Red Bull front row with Mark Webber taking second.

Jenson Button took third but his gearbox change penalty will promote Kamui Kobayashi to third on the grid at his home race.


Vettel led the way at the beginning of Q1, a 1’32.608 enabling him to stay in the pits without using a set of soft tyres.

Most other drivers had to use a set of the faster compounds to ensure a place in Q2, including the Lotus pair.

Nico Hulkenberg made a late start to qualifying after the team completed repairs to his car following his crash in final practice. But a 1’32.828 comfortably got him into Q2.

Another Mercedes-powered driver was having a less comfortable time. Michael Schumacher left the pits late and ended up needing a final flying effort to secure his progression. He made it, after a superb lap on hard tyres secured 16th place.

Jean-Eric Vergne made it through but not without incurring the wrath of Bruno Senna, who he held up at the chicane. Senna gesticulated angrily at the Toro Rosso pilot.

Vitaly Petrov could only manage 23rd, beaten by both Marussias and Pedro de la Rosa – the HRT driver successfully splitting the two MR01s.

Drivers eliminated in Q1

18 Bruno Senna Williams-Renault 1’33.405
19 Heikki Kovalainen Caterham-Renault 1’34.657
20 Timo Glock Marussia-Cosworth 1’35.213
21 Pedro de la Rosa HRT-Cosworth 1’35.385
22 Charles Pic Marussia-Cosworth 1’35.429
23 Vitaly Petrov Caterham-Renault 1’35.432
24 Narain Karthikeyan HRT-Cosworth 1’36.734


Vettel set the benchmark in Q2 with a lap of 1’31.501. Button came closest to begin with but was almost three tenths of a second slower. Behind them was Webber and these were the only three drivers who were not on the track at the end of the session.

Hamilton, fourth, returned for another run having been four-tenths off his team mate with his first run. However he was able to return to the pits as he only fell as far as eighth as others improved.

Alonso produced a 1’31.833 to ensure his place in the top ten but team mate Felipe Massa failed to get through by just two-hundredths of a second. He was knocked out after Romain Grosjean improved his time, joining team mate Kimi Raikkonen in the final part of qualifying.

Neither Mercedes made it through, nor did the Toro Rosso pair.

Drivers eliminated in Q2

11 Felipe Massa Ferrari 1’32.293
12 Paul di Resta Force India-Mercedes 1’32.327
13 Michael Schumacher Mercedes 1’32.469
14 Pastor Maldonado Williams-Renault 1’32.512
15 Nico Rosberg Mercedes 1’32.625
16 Daniel Ricciardo Toro Rosso-Ferrari 1’32.954
17 Jean-Eric Vergne Toro Rosso-Ferrari 1’33.368


Red Bull led the running as Q3 began, Vettel setting a 1’30.839. Webber was just two-tenths of a second off his team mate – he was quicker in the first sector but lost time with a lock-up later on the lap.

Button was another two-tenths behind in third, followed by the Lotuses and Hamilton. Alonso, Hulkenberg and the Saubers limited themselves to just one run.

Vettel made a good start to his final effort, immediately finding the time he’d lost in the first sector. But further ahead Raikkonen hit trouble, spinning at Spoon curve.

With the yellow flags out the drivers behind him were required to slow down. Several drivers improved their time after Raikkonen spun, but it remains to be seen which of them had passed the scene before the yellow flags came out – and whether they might received penalties.

The top three held position while Kamui Kobayashi moved up to fourth and Grosjean took fifth. Perez claimed sixth ahead of Alonso with Hamilton only ninth.

But Vettel had no need to improve his time and backed off, cruising into the pits to celebrate pole position at Suzuka for the fourth time in as many years.

Top ten in Q3

1 Sebastian Vettel Red Bull-Renault 1’30.839
2 Mark Webber Red Bull-Renault 1’31.090
3 Jenson Button McLaren-Mercedes 1’31.290
4 Kamui Kobayashi Sauber-Ferrari 1’31.700
5 Romain Grosjean Lotus-Renault 1’31.898
6 Sergio Perez Sauber-Ferrari 1’32.022
7 Fernando Alonso Ferrari 1’32.114
8 Kimi Raikkonen Lotus-Renault 1’32.208
9 Lewis Hamilton McLaren-Mercedes 1’32.327
10 Nico Hulkenberg Force India-Mercedes

2012 Japanese Grand Prix

Browse all 2012 Japanese Grand Prix articles

Image ?é?® Red Bull/Getty images

Advert | Go Ad-free


91 comments on Vettel continues Suzuka dominance with fourth pole

  1. Vettel is so dominant in Suzuka, even without the yellow flag incident he would still probably be on pole. Red Bull 1-2!!!

  2. Eggry (@eggry) said on 6th October 2012, 7:13

    This is bad. Alonso is far behind and Hamilton is further more! also Red Bull seems quite fast in the race. I hope race pace is a litte bit different from the qualifying. If not, final chapter of the season gonna be easy task for Red Bull and Vettel. Sauber really helping Red Bull and I was quite surprised when Kimi spinned.

  3. callum (@095cal) said on 6th October 2012, 7:13

    Surely a penalty for Kobayashi?

  4. Ella (@ella) said on 6th October 2012, 7:15

    Anti-climactic end, that’s for sure.

    Can’t help but think, given the speed the RB’s have just shown, the championship is as good as gone for Ferrari.
    And the Mclarens are going to have interesting time of it tomorrow – they’re pretty out of place.

  5. Gabriel (@naylamp) said on 6th October 2012, 7:17

    damn kimi! alonso could’ve start from P3.

  6. Looks like Red Bull are set for a 1-2 here tomorrow, with their real contenders being stuck 6th to 9th on the grid.

    Equally disappointed with the Mercedes “trio” of Schumacher, Rosberg and Hamilton. Unless Lewis was trying to get on par with his future ride, I don’t know what else could have happened there to throw him 1 sec. off Button’s pace. Disaster for Williams as well, with Sauber and Force India both doing well and rather well, respectively.

    The upside: I wouldn’t have credited Sauber with a Spa-like performance yesterday… If they play the tyre conservation game right, who knows…

    Gonna be good fun tomorrow.

  7. Colossal Squid (@colossal-squid) said on 6th October 2012, 7:23

    Vettel was never really in doubt for pole after his first flying lap in Q2.
    I will be very interested to see if Kamui gets a penalty, considering he didn’t really look like he lifted off under yellows. A shame as Ferrari tweeted that Kimi’s yellow flags cost Alonso a very probable 4th.

  8. Klaas (@klaas) said on 6th October 2012, 7:24

    Too bad the Red Bulls are cushioned from Ferrari and McLaren by KOB and GRO. This way, nobody will be able to challenge Vettel in the first corner. I’m pretty sure Webber has been already worked up by the team and his mission for this race will be to take poins off Vettel’s rivals. It will be a wild run for the McLaren drivers with some ‘smart’ strategies and plans A-Z. Alonso should finish on the podium if he gets through the first corner in one piece. As for Vettel there are 2 variants: straight win or alternator failure.

    • Gabriel (@naylamp) said on 6th October 2012, 7:29

      the alternator failure line made me laugh.

      • Kingshark (@kingshark) said on 6th October 2012, 7:33

        As for Vettel there are 2 variants: straight win or alternator failure.

        Or launch Grosjean in turn 1.

        • Klaas (@klaas) said on 6th October 2012, 7:54

          Nah, after the Spa carnage, Grosjean will be super-extra-careful. I think he’ll opt for a miserable start – better lose one place than one race.
          Hopefully Kamui will want to show his compatriots the kamikaze spirit and wipe out the front row.

          • @kingshark @klaas has made a good point. If Grosjean hits Vettel he’ll be banned yet again, perhaps for more races than one. I doubt he’d dare do anything too risky if he wishes to keep his seat at Lotus…

        • peter548 said on 6th October 2012, 9:30

          I’m so going to laugh if Gro takes out Alonso or Hamilton tomorrow..

    • Eggry (@eggry) said on 6th October 2012, 7:32

      @klaas Never rule out Grosjean of Mass Destruction.

    • BasCB (@bascb) said on 6th October 2012, 7:36

      Just wait until Grosjean spears ahead (hopefully not spear into anyone)

    • This way, nobody will be able to challenge Vettel in the first corner. I’m pretty sure Webber has been already worked up by the team and his mission for this race will be to take poins off Vettel’s rivals.

      I don’t know about that. He’s 62 points behind with 150 on the table. Technically he’s still pretty much the same title contender Hamilton and Raikkonen are. He might just go for it. I hope he’ll go for it…

      • On the other hand, both Webber and Kobayashi have a history full of poor starts, so yeah…Vettel seems likely to pull away early.

      • Klaas (@klaas) said on 6th October 2012, 8:07

        Do you really think Red Bull will allow Webber to challege Vettel? Mark was in better position to take the title in 2010 but his team made everything possible to give Seb the advantage. But now, with Vettel so much in front…no way. It’s the same ridiculous thing as if Ferrari were starting to favour Massa over Alonso. Mark is No 2 – period.

        • Jono (@me262) said on 6th October 2012, 13:36

          Webber is much closer to Vettel than Massa is to Alonso this season…but you are right, if it was Webber on pole you could be assured Webber would need a gearbox change before tommorow’s race ;)

  9. Kingshark (@kingshark) said on 6th October 2012, 7:29

    How the hell can Hamilton be 1.1 seconds slower than Button in the same car? I don’t want to start a conspiracy, but something’s not right.

    As for Alonso, I have faith in him. Had it not been for Raikkonen, he was on a very respectable first sector and definitely could’ve been 3rd/4th. Plus, Ferrari’s pace in the race is always better than qualifying.

  10. rai just said “i spun. i don’t care what happened to others.” haha

  11. Tete said on 6th October 2012, 7:50

    I strongly believe that if a drivers. Destroys the other driver’s hot lap by doing a kimmi (the spin) his times should be eliminated and he should start. Last in that kimmi should start 10. He basically screw everybody up by such a silly mistake. I don’t sish bad luck upon any driver but i really wish he would have hit the barrier and destroy his car , so that way he wouldn’t be laughing right now for what he did.

    • brny666 said on 6th October 2012, 10:28

      I did not see him laughing. I fact he came across seriously ****** off in the sky interview since he screwed up his own q3 as well. Clearly you were hoping your driver to do better in q3 but he didn’t not sure the absence of the yellows would have changed that.

    • Blues said on 6th October 2012, 10:39

      It is simply a racing incident and it can happen anytime especially when you are pushing hard. So i dont see the point of implementing such a rule of eliminating the driver.
      Of course, if its hamilton or alonso who spun, will you be blaming them instead?

    • xjr15jaaag (@xjr15jaaag) said on 6th October 2012, 18:15

      He didn’t do it on purpose, you know.
      And that is a very extreme way of looking at driver mistakes.
      Therefore, by extension, were you hoping Grosjean would be banned for spinning at Silverstone for spinning out in quali?
      Or maybe Rubens at Singapore in 2009?
      That is ridiculous; F1 drivers are human, and can therefore make mistakes; you shouldn’t severely punish a driver for simply making a slight misjudgment.

  12. Journeyer (@journeyer) said on 6th October 2012, 8:09

    Well, hang on. Vettel has been summoned to the stewards – for allegedly holding up Alonso.
    If Vettel is penalized, he will end up… just behind Alonso! How convenient.

  13. BBQ2 said on 6th October 2012, 8:14

    LMAO …. kimi has given one of his classic interviews:
    Pinkham: “kimi what happen?”
    Kimi: “I spun” (already going ….)
    Pinkham: “what was the cause, as other drivers had yellow flag?”
    Kimi: “I dont care about other drivers!”

  14. DT (@dt) said on 6th October 2012, 8:24

    Hamilton was well off the pace. The change in setup must have been quite drastic to swing that much. With Ferrari’s continued pace issues, it looks like Alonso’s championship chance is slipping away gradually.

  15. I think Kobayashi and Grosjean improved in sector 2 under yellow flags. They should be handed three-place grid penalties. I’m not sure about Button, though.

Add your comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

All comments must abide by the comment policy. Comments may be moderated.
Want to post off-topic? Head to the forum.
See the FAQ for more information.