Skip to content

Webber storms to first pole of the season at Suzuka

Oct 12, 2013, 2:18 AM EDT

AUTO-PRIX-JPN-F1 Getty Images

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.

Latest Posts
  1. It’s official: Marcos Ambrose will return to Australia to race V8 Supercars for Roger Penske

    Sep 14, 2014, 8:52 PM EDT

    Marcos Ambrose (left), along with NASCAR president Mike Helton. (Photo: Sean Gardner/Getty Images) Getty Images

    JOLIET, Ill. — One day after announcing he would not be returning to Richard Petty Motorsports in 2015, Marcos Ambrose made it official that he’s going home to his native Australia to and race in the V8 Supercars series for Roger Penske.

  2. Danica Patrick, Ricky Stenhouse Jr. tangle in wreck at Chicago — but it’s all good

    Sep 14, 2014, 7:48 PM EDT

    (Photo: Sean Gardner/Getty Images) Getty Images

    JOLIET, Ill. – Oh, how we’d love to be a bug on the wall when Danica Patrick and Ricky Stenhouse Jr. get home after Sunday’s MyAFibStory.com 400 at Chicagoland Speedway.

  3. Jeff Gordon makes strong ‘Drive For Five’ start, also has high praise for Kyle Larson in Chase opener

    Sep 14, 2014, 7:18 PM EDT

    (AP Photo/Nam Y. Huh) AP

    JOLIET, Ill. – In the first race of the 2014 Chase for the Sprint Cup, Jeff Gordon took the first step in his “Drive For Five” – and put his best foot forward.

  4. How the 16 drivers fared in Sunday’s Chase opener

    Sep 14, 2014, 6:17 PM EDT

    (Photo: Jerry Markland/Getty Images) Getty Images

    JOLIET, Ill. – Sunday’s opening race in the Chase for the Sprint Cup was good for 12 of the 16 contestants, as they dominated the top-15 finishers in the MyAFibStory.com 400 at Chicagoland Speedway. But four others struggled and find themselves in a hole heading into the second race of the Chase.

  5. Keselowski surges between Harvick, Larson to win Chase opener at Chicagoland

    Sep 14, 2014, 5:30 PM EDT

    (Photo: Jerry Markland/Getty Images) Getty Images

    JOLIET, Ill. — While Kyle Larson and Kevin Harvick were jousting for the lead, Keselowski slipped up in-between them and then sailed right through with 15 laps left to win Sunday’s MyAFibStory.com 400, the opening race in the Chase for the Sprint Cup at Chicagoland Speedway.

  6. Brad Keselowski, Jeff Gordon lead Chase opener at halfway point

    Sep 14, 2014, 3:44 PM EDT

    keselowski joliet 2014 Getty Images

    JOLIET, Ill. – With 134 of the scheduled 267 laps complete, Brad Keselowski leads the opening race of the Chase for the Sprint Cup, the MyAFibStory.com 400 at Chicagoland Speedway.

  7. Even with new crew, Kevin Harvick’s pit road problems continue

    Sep 14, 2014, 3:15 PM EDT

    Harvick pit crew richmond 2014 Getty Images

    JOLIET, Ill. — Kevin Harvick made a celebrated trade of pit crews with Tony Stewart for Sunday’s MyAFibStory.com 400 due to numerous mistakes and errors committed by his pit crew during the first 26 races of the regular season. Unfortunately, Harvick’s pit road jinx continued with the new crew.

  8. For 16 Sprint Cup drivers, the time is here: ready, set, Chase

    Sep 14, 2014, 1:34 PM EDT

    Sprint Cup trophy 2014 Getty Images

    JOLIET, Ill. — If Sunday’s MyAFibStory.com 400 plays out the way folks in the garage were talking Sunday morning, there’s going to be at least a few surprises both in the course of the race and potentially in the outcome in the opening event of the 2014 Chase for the Sprint Cup.

  9. Kyle Busch starts Truck race ticked-off, only to end up in victory lane at Chicagoland

    Sep 13, 2014, 9:20 PM EDT

    (Photo: Daniel Shirey/Getty Images) Getty Images

    JOLIET, Ill. – A ticked-off Kyle Busch is the most dangerous kind of Kyle Busch. Dejected after coming up short in the Nationwide Series race earlier in the afternoon, the younger Busch brother rallied back to win Saturday night’s Lucas Oil 225 Camping World Truck Series race.

  10. Joey Logano: ‘We’re ready’ to win Sprint Cup championship

    Sep 13, 2014, 8:09 PM EDT

    (Photo: Sarah Glenn/Getty Images) Getty Images

    JOLIET, Ill. — Joey Logano is ready to go from wanna-be champion to doing the real thing in this season’s Chase for the Sprint Cup.

  11. DeJoria (FC), Enders-Stevens (PS), Todd (TF) and Krawiec (PSM) are the ones to beat in NHRA race in Charlotte

    Sep 13, 2014, 7:30 PM EDT

    Alexis DeJoria is No. 1 at Charlotte heading into Sunday's eliminations. (Photo courtesy NHRA) Alexis DeJoria is No. 1 at Charlotte heading into Sunday's eliminations. (Photo courtesy NHRA)

    Alexis DeJoria (Funny Car), Erica Enders-Stevens (Pro Stock), J.R. Todd (Top Fuel) and Eddie Krawiec (Pro Stock Motorcycle) will enter Sunday’s Pep Boys NHRA Carolina Nationals as the No. 1 qualifiers at zMAX Dragway in Concord, N.C.

  12. Kevin Harvick outsmarts Kyle Busch, earns third career NNS win at Chicagoland Speedway

    Sep 13, 2014, 6:40 PM EDT

    (Photo: Sean Gardner/Getty Images) Getty Images

    JOLIET, Ill. – What looked like yet another almost certain Kyle Busch win on Saturday literally went up in smoke, as Kevin Harvick rallied to earn his third career Nationwide Series victory at Chicagoland Speedway.

  13. Kyle Busch ready to claim his ‘second’ Sprint Cup championship

    Sep 13, 2014, 5:26 PM EDT

    (Photo: Nick Laham/Getty Images) Getty Images

    JOLIET, Ill. – Kyle Busch believes he can win his ‘second’ Sprint Cup championship in 2014. Wait a minute, when did he win his first? Did we miss something somewhere?

  14. Carl Edwards leads final Sprint Cup practice, Keselowski up to speed, Danica 5th-fastest

    Sep 13, 2014, 3:30 PM EDT

    Kesewlowski Chicagoland 2014 Getty Images

    JOLIET, Ill. — Carl Edwards was fastest in Saturday’s Sprint Cup happy hour practice, but Brad Keselowski was the bigger story, finding the speed he’s been lacking up to now. Also, Danica Patrick was fifth-fastest.

  15. Marcos Ambrose decision to leave RPM, NASCAR due to family, desire to return to Australia

    Sep 13, 2014, 2:41 PM EDT

    marcos ambrose chicagoland 2014 Getty Images

    JOLIET, Ill. — Marcos Ambrose cited being homesick for his native Australia as well as family concerns as the main reasons he’s leaving Richard Petty Motorsports and NASCAR at the end of this season.

  16. Brian Scott holds off Ryan Blaney to earn 3rd NNS pole of season

    Sep 13, 2014, 2:03 PM EDT

    (Photo: Nick Laham/Getty Images) Getty Images

    JOLIET, Ill. — Shortly after Richard Childress Racing teammate Paul Menard posted the fastest speed in Saturday morning’s Sprint Cup practice, teammate Brian Scott went out and earned the pole for Saturday afternoon’s Jimmy John’s Freaky Fast 300 NASCAR Nationwide Series race at Chicagoland Speedway.

  17. Romain Grosjean hopeful of points at Singapore GP

    Sep 13, 2014, 1:00 PM EDT

    F1 Grand Prix of Germany - Qualifying Getty Images

    Frenchman is confident that Lotus will be in better shape than it was at Monza.

  18. Sprint Cup practice speeds slower Saturday morning at Chicagoland, Paul Menard tops at 188.772 mph

    Sep 13, 2014, 12:23 PM EDT

    paul menard richmond 2 2014 Getty Images

    JOLIET, Ill. — Paul Menard shot to the top of the speed charts during the first of two practice sessions for the Sprint Cup drivers Saturday morning at Chicagoland Speedway.

  19. Roberto Merhi dominates Formula Renault 3.5 race in Hungary

    Sep 13, 2014, 12:00 PM EDT

    © Renault Sport © Renault Sport

    Spaniard dominates at the Hungaroring, strengthening his case for an F1 seat with Caterham.

Video from NASCAR America

Johnson's quest for a record 7th title
Top 10 NASCAR Driver Searches
  1. J. Johnson (2133)
  2. K. Busch (1445)
  3. J. Gordon (1395)
  4. J. Logano (1242)
  5. B. Rhodes (1229)
  1. B. Keselowski (1221)
  2. D. Suarez (1187)
  3. I. Vences (1121)
  4. R. Pardo (1113)
  5. A. Hill (1076)