2010 Japanese Grand Prix (Suzuka, Round 16 Qualifying, October 10th)

Suzuka track layout. © FIA

Sebastian Vettel secured his eighth pole position of the season, with Red Bull taking their seventh front row lock out; however Vettel’s conversion rate to wins this season has been quite poor. Mark Webber found himself only 0.07 of-a-second shy of the German once the final ten minute session ran its course.

Lewis Hamilton set the third fastest time, but a penalty for a changed gearbox will leave the 2008 Champion getting off the grid in 8th place. It left Robert Kubica (Renault) and Fernando Alonso (Ferrari) on the second row of the grid, with the Pole just ahead.
Jenson Button was next up – the reigning Champion secured 5th, despite only having one run on the hard tyre; a strategy that could be advantageous during the race. Nico Rosberg took 6th in his Mercedes and Rubens Barrichello (Williams) was 7th, ahead of the penalised Hamilton. The second Williams of Nico Hulkenberg and Michael Schumacher (Mercedes) secured an all-German row five.
Schumacher caused some controversy in the opening stint of qualifying – the German (apparently) raised the on track ire of Alonso with the former Champion blocking and weaving across the front of the Ferrari through Spoon and down toward the fast 130R corner.

Nick Heidfeld was the fastest of the drivers to drop out of Q2, but there was surprise when the Sauber beat the Ferrari of Felipe Massa. On the soft tyre, the Brazilian lost a huge amount of time on the opening lap of his final run as he it traffic, but was simply too slow on next lap lap around.
Vitaly Petrov took 13th in his Renault, not aided by an off a turn 1. The Russian just pipped local favourite Kamui Kobayashi – the Sauber driver had a lap good enough to get into final qualifying, but a mistake in the chicane left him in the drop zone.
Both Force India’s failed to make it into the final session, with Adrian Sutil (15th) heading Vitantonio Liuzzi (17th). They squeezed the leading Toro Rosso driven by Jaime Alguersuari (16th).

The second Toro Rosso of Sebastien Buemi also struggled with the Swiss driver not making it through the opening session, only just behind Alguersuari – once again, the Red Bull junior squad were slowest of the established teams.
Buemi was, rather predictably, joined by the six new cars, headed by the Lotus of Jarno Trulli. Heikki Kovalainen was next up with Lucas di Grassi out-qualifying Timo Glock – a rarity this season. Bruno Senna and Sakon Yamamoto will make up the last row of the grid.

Japan, Qualifying (October 10th)
1  VETTEL        Red Bull      1m30.785s
2  WEBBER        Red Bull      1m30.853s
3  KUBICA        Renault       1m31.231s
4  ALONSO        Ferrari       1m31.352s
5  BUTTON        McLaren       1m31.378s
6  ROSBERG       Mercedes      1m31.494s
7  BARRICHELLO   Williams      1m31.535s
8  HAMILTON      McLaren       1m31.169s (* 5-place grid penalty)
9  HULKENBERG    Williams      1m31.559s
10 SCHUMACHER    Mercedes      1m31.846s
11 HEIDFELD      Sauber        1m32.187s
12 MASSA         Ferrari       1m32.321s
13 PETROV        Renault       1m32.422s
14 KOBAYASHI     Sauber        1m32.427s
15 SUTIL         Force India   1m32.659s
16 ALGUERSUARI   Toro Rosso    1m33.071s
17 LIUZZI        Force India   1m33.154s
18 BUEMI         Toro Rosso    1m33.568s
19 TRULLI        Lotus         1m35.346s
20 KOVALAINEN    Lotus         1m35.464s
21 DI GRASSI     Virgin        1m36.265s
22 GLOCK         Virgin        1m36.332s
23 SENNA         HRT           1m37.270s
24 YAMAMOTO      HRT           1m37.365s

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