Oct 12, 2013, 2:18 AM EST
Mark Webber has secured his first pole position of the season in qualifying for the Japanese Grand Prix after putting in an impressive performance in the final session to finish ahead of teammate Sebastian Vettel and Mercedes’ Lewis Hamilton.
Webber, who is racing for the final time at Suzuka this weekend ahead of his retirement at the end of the season, posted a fastest time of 1:30.915 to finish less than two-tenths ahead of Vettel who was hampered by a KERS problem during Q3.
Q1 got off to a quiet start as many of the drivers opted to wait before setting their first times. Esteban Gutierrez was the first driver to set a benchmark time, but Sauber soon had bigger concerns when a fire broke out on the Mexican’s car in the garage. Thankfully, Gutierrez jumped out of the car quickly and the fire was put out, allowing him to get back out a few minutes later. Fernando Alonso bounced back from a disappointing performance in practice to lead for a good part of the session before being beaten by Mark Webber and Lewis Hamilton on the hard tire, with Sebastian Vettel and Jenson Button completing the top six. Just as the teams prepared to go out on the option tire though, a brake fire on Jean-Eric Vergne’s Toro Rosso brought out the red flag. As a result, the teams had to scramble their cars back out on track on the restart with time for just one flying lap. Vergne’s earlier time was not enough to get him through, and he was joined in the dropzone by Adrian Sutil who will drop five places on the grid due to a gearbox change. Max Chilton put in a fine lap to outqualify both Caterhams and teammate Jules Bianchi (the latter being for the first time) whilst Romain Grosjean finished fastest of all on the prime tire.
The majority of the teams went straight onto the option tire for Q2 as they looked to secure a place in the top ten shootout early on. However, Red Bull once again opted to leave their runs until later in the session, allowing Alonso to set the early pace along with Hamilton and Button. When Vettel did come out though, he went over half a second quicker than the Ferrari with Webber and Grosjean also moving ahead of Alonso with some impressive times. Another final flurry of times ensued once the checkered flag had fallen, with some good initial times from Valtteri Bottas and Pastor Maldonado failing to secure Williams a place in Q3. Esteban Gutierrez’s run of top ten results in qualifying came to an end as the Mexican driver finished fourteenth whilst Sergio Perez joined his compatriot in the drop zone after a late lap time from Felipe Massa edged the McLaren driver out.
Red Bull bucked the trend in Q3 by being the first to send their drivers out and set a time, but champion-elect Vettel ran into problems when he was told by his engineer that his KERS system was not working. This proved to be costly early on as the German driver could not match the pace of teammate Mark Webber, giving the Australian provisional pole after the first set of runs. However, with Vettel improving in the first sector of his final run and Mercedes also in the running, it was by no means a foregone conclusion. Ultimately though, Vettel could not improve with his final time and both Hamilton and Rosberg fell short, whilst Webber improved further to secure his first pole position since the 2012 Korean Grand Prix as well as outqualifying Vettel for the first time this season.
Romain Grosjean and Felipe Massa both outqualified their illustrious teammates to line up fourth and fifth respectively ahead of Rosberg, whilst Nico Hulkenberg’s good form continued as the Sauber finished seventh. Both Alonso and Raikkonen struggled late on to finish eighth and ninth and Jenson Button closed out the top ten for McLaren.
Webber will be delighted to have finally finished ahead of his teammate and taken his first pole position of the season in what has been a difficult swansong year for the Australian. However, the ‘team orders’ debate will undoubtedly arise should Vettel be in the position to win the world championship in Japan on Sunday.
Jan 27, 2015, 5:45 PM EST
Gene Haas provides an update on his F1 team’s progress during NASCAR Media Tour.
Jan 27, 2015, 5:28 PM EST
In a new promotional video for the XFINITY Series, Richard Petty says the next great NASCAR driver may be in the sport’s junior league right now.
Jan 27, 2015, 4:58 PM EST
Don’t miss this special event on Friday, Jan. 30, at 10 p.m. ET on NBCSN.
Jan 27, 2015, 4:34 PM EST
Kurt Busch says he’s unsure when a decision will be made in the protective hearing case sought by his ex-girlfriend Patricia Driscoll
Jan 27, 2015, 4:22 PM EST
In an effort to attract new drag racing fans, the National Hot Rod Association has embarked upon a new marketing and social media program for 2015: “Baptism by Nitro”, featuring the sport’s fastest cars, Top Fuel dragsters and Funny Cars.
Jan 27, 2015, 3:46 PM EST
Car owner Gene Haas confirms this is the final year of Danica Patrick’s contract but says he wants Patrick back.
Jan 27, 2015, 3:15 PM EST
Yeley ran the final seven races of 2014 in BK’s No. 83 Toyota.
Jan 27, 2015, 2:53 PM EST
While teammate Kevin Harvick won the Sprint Cup championship in 2014, Danica Patrick, Kurt Busch and Tony Stewart all came up short. Which driver will bounce back the most in 2015?
Jan 27, 2015, 2:45 PM EST
While some media may think 2014 was a sub-par year for her, Danica Patrick believes last season was just the opposite, a season of growth and improvement that she hopes to extend into the 2015 Sprint Cup campaign.
Jan 27, 2015, 2:15 PM EST
Al Unser Sr. gets a day of honor at IMS this month of May.
Jan 27, 2015, 2:08 PM EST
RTA chairman Rob Kauffman deflected several questions Tuesday about the organization, which represents virtually every team in NASCAR’s premier series.
Jan 27, 2015, 2:05 PM EST
Former Sprint Cup champ finished sixth in first ‘500’ appearance last year.
Jan 27, 2015, 1:32 PM EST
One year after his last comeback effort fell short, Bobby Hamilton Jr. is back to try it again with Carter 2 Motorsports in a full-time ARCA season racing effort.
Jan 27, 2015, 1:15 PM EST
Sauber will have its new car launch on Friday, and also has confirmed HP partnership.
Jan 27, 2015, 1:00 PM EST
The 2015 NASCAR Camping World Truck Series schedule and race times was announced Tuesday.
Jan 27, 2015, 12:40 PM EST
Race times for the inaugural season of the new Xfinity Series were announced Tuesday.
Jan 27, 2015, 12:32 PM EST
Annett will bring his Pilot/Flying J sponsorship with him to HScott Motorsports, where he’ll team up with Justin Allgaier.
Jan 27, 2015, 12:15 PM EST
NASCAR releases start times for all 36 Cup points races plus Daytona 500 prelims, the All-Star Race, and the Sprint Showdown.
Jan 27, 2015, 11:54 AM EST
Michael Waltrip Racing co-owner says his team is working with Joe Gibbs Racing, countering claims Kyle Busch made about the collaboration between the teams.
Jan 27, 2015, 11:22 AM EST
Clint Bowyer said of his relationship with Jeff Gordon: “You’re never good with somebody when it got that ugly.”
Video from NASCAR America
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