With one driver forced to sit out qualifying for the Japanese Grand Prix and another three crashing whilst qualifying, it was an eventful second day at Suzuka as Sebastian Vettel claimed pole position for Sundayís 53-lap race.
Vettel is looking to record his third win of the
season and keep his championship hopes alive while Jenson Button
starts back in seventh position behind title rival and Brawn team-mate Rubens Barrichello
. After a dramatic day, hereís what the drivers had to say.
1 . S. Vettel - Red Bull Renault RB5
"I did my best not to get distracted today; it was a strange session with a lot of incidents. The most important thing is that all the drivers are okay. In qualifying, itís usual that youíre looking for the limit, as itís about just one fast lap time, but Turn 9, where the people went off, is quite difficult. If you go too wide on that kerb youíre basically just a passenger, as you canít get rid of the speed. Thereís not much run off, so the wall is close and people hit it. For the other cars, sometimes youíre lucky and the red flag is called just as youíre about to warm up your tyres, but sometimes itís called when youíve started your flying lap.
"The car worked fantastically today and we were quickest in Q1, Q2 and Q3. The most difficult was probably Q3, due to running with race fuel and only having one lap. Itís not easy through the S-bends and the tyres donít really last for a second lap. Iím very happy, weíre back to full strength since Singapore and have now put the car on pole. A good day today, now letís see tomorrow.Ē
2 . J. Trulli - Toyota TF109
"Obviously I feel for Timo because we could both have been starting at the front of the grid today. It was good to hear quickly from the team that he is okay; just a bit upset he isn't in the top six with me. It was a crazy qualifying session in general with all the red flags and I am really happy with this result, especially in front of all our Japanese fans. The whole team has done a great job this weekend with our updated package to give me this chance to qualify on the front row. They have provided me with a car to fight at the front and I want to say thanks to them.
"My priority in qualifying was to keep my concentration because I knew we had a good chance to get a strong result. I think my lap time was the maximum I could get out of the car so I am very pleased with it. Now I am looking forward to the race tomorrow when obviously my aim is to finish on the podium in Toyota's home Grand Prix. I hope the first lap is clean and then I will do my best to get a great result."
3 . L. Hamilton - McLaren Mercedes MP4-24
ďWe didnít expect to be as competitive as we were this afternoon. Our car was tricky this morning and we had to make some significant changes between sessions. It was impossible to extract the best from the car, especially through the first sector. We didnít have much time to develop a dry set-up so we went into qualifying hoping that the changes would work Ė and they did. Iíve said it before, but I really love this circuit, itís so much fun and has such history and character; I feel honoured and overwhelmed to be driving where the great drivers of the past have raced.
ďI would love to win here tomorrow, and Iíll do everything I can to do so: Iíll drive my heart out. Although the Red Bull will be very hard to beat, thereís a long run down to Turn One and our KERS is working better than ever. Sebastian has more to worry about than I do, too. Heíll be looking at the world championship, Iím just here to have a good time and score some points for my team to help us move further up the constructorsí championship table.Ē
4 . A. Sutil - Force India Mercedes VJM02
"It was always a good feeling to go to a track you know, where you feel good and the confidence is there. Our car has performed well on these type of circuits in the past and we've had a strong weekend so far but we did not expect to be able to race in the top five, so fourth is a really great position for the start tomorrow. It was a long session, with so many red flags that we had to cancel a few laps and come in and then try to focus again.
"Finally it was okay and on the last few laps the car felt great. Third was also very close, just a few hundredths away, but unfortunately Lewis just took it right at the very end of the session! We had a really hard weekend in Singapore and it's nice to be back: it's just fantastic for the team. Tomorrow it will be a tough, long race but I'm just going to focus on what I have to do. I will do my best."
5 . R. Barrichello - Brawn Mercedes BGP 001
"I'm happy with my qualifying today considering the pace that we have here in Suzuka. We didn't have particularly competitive sessions in Q1 and Q2 and it was difficult to predict where we might end up. However my car worked well on race fuel loads and in terms of the championship, I'm pleased to be ahead of Jenson on comparable fuel loads in the final session. It was tough today and you had to maintain your concentration despite all the incidents and delays. Suzuka is a fantastic track, one of the best that we race on, but today shows just how tricky it is to drive."
6 . N. Heidfeld - BMW Sauber F1.09
"Iím happy with my qualifying performance. I had a really good lap in Q3. I wasnít too optimistic for qualifying because in free practice this morning I struggled a bit with the set-up and had to go for a compromise. In Q2 I saw the yellow flags and lifted my foot off the pedal and raised an arm to indicate I had reduced speed where I was required to. I was a couple of tenths slower. Obviously it was a very strange qualifying. I have never known one before with so many accidents and I hope Timo is okay."
7 . J. Button - Brawn Mercedes BGP 001
"It wasn't the easiest of qualifying sessions with so little practice yesterday and all of the interruptions. Three red flags during qualifying is very unusual and I hope that everyone involved is ok. It wasn't too stressful as we had all the information that we needed and just had to keep calm and focus on our next run. The car was working well in the first two sessions and definitely felt better on low fuel. With fuel onboard in Q3 I struggled with rear grip through the first sector and that's where I lost the time on my quick lap as the car was working well through the rest of the lap. We expected this and knew that we would have to make the best of the situation."
8 . K. Raikkonen - Ferrari F60
ďI donít think we could have expected much more today. We know what our potential is and we have to accept that. Here, the situation is definitely better than in Singapore, but we continue to struggle, especially with a lack of aerodynamic downforce, which makes itself felt especially in the first sector. Overall, the car is working well and itís nice to drive on such a demanding track as this, where the slightest error is heavily punished, as we saw today.
Itís a shame I didnít have new soft tyres for Q3, but we had to use them earlier to avoid being knocked out: all in all it was a good qualifying. Tomorrow, we will try and have a good race: it will be difficult to fight for the top spots, but we will try and we can count on having a good strategy.Ē
9 . H. Kovalainen - McLaren Mercedes MP4-24
ďI went a bit too fast into turn eight, over the kerb, and the car broke out and I couldn't get it back on the track. So it was game over. Todayís three accidents prove that everybody is pushing the limit as much as possible as the running time in the dry was very limited. The car felt good, the balance was okay and we should be in good shape for tomorrow. I now hope that the damage on my car wonít be so bad that my mechanics have to spend the night repairing it.Ē
10 . S. Buemi - Toro Rosso Ferrari STR4
ďIím not happy, as I made it through to Q3, but after crashing the car I couldnít take part. A great shame as this would have been my second Q3 of the season and the car was super today. I was reasonably comfortable so maybe I didnít need to do that last lap. In Q1 after I crashed, I managed to bring it back to the pits and have it repaired, so after the second accident, I felt I had to try and bring it back again, as you donít know from the cockpit how bad the damage is. At that point of the track, the kerb is really high and if you touch it at the speed you are doing there, you just fly over it. I hope to make good use of the performance level of the car in the race, to repay the team for all the work they have to do now.Ē
11 . N. Rosberg - Williams Toyota FW31
"It was a dramatic qualifying session with numerous accidents and so many people going off which just show that this is a really unforgiving track. Iím not overly happy with my performance today but I didnít feel particularly comfortable in the car. The first part of qualifying was okay, but I never found the same level of grip after that. Of course, I would have wanted to do better than 11th place, but it at least gives us the opportunity to choose our strategy tomorrow."
12 . F. Alonso - Renault R29
ďIt was a very strange qualifying session. The track conditions were good and all the drivers were pushing hard, but there were lots of incidents, amongst them Timoís was the most serious and I am glad he is okay. Itís a shame to have missed Q3 as the yellow flag came out in the final stages of Q2. I was called by the stewards because I had a green second sector under yellow flags. I explained that coming out of turn 14 I had little visibility because of the dust left from Buemi spinning into the gravel - then I saw debris of a wing in the middle of the track, which I avoided and at that point I saw the yellow flag and immediately slowed down and came carefully into the pits. Tomorrow, for the race, I hope we can improve our position and score some points.Ē
13 . R. Kubica - BMW Sauber F1.09
"My qualifying was totally disappointing. All my flying laps in the second session were destroyed by red or yellow flags. In the entire fifteen minutes we were not able to do one quick timed lap. Qualifying for tomorrowís race in 13th is far from ideal. Suzuka is a fantastic track but overtaking isnít too easy here. It is how it is. I hope Timo is okay. I wish him all the best."
15 . J. Alguersuari - Toro Rosso Ferrari STR4
"Before the accident, I was pushing hard on the hard tyre. I lost control and went into the wall. It was quite a heavy impact. The car looks very bad, but Iím fine. I felt confident in the fast turn nine, so I was going for it, until I went a little bit too fast on the hard tyre and once I was on the grass, I had no grip. The kerb there is far too high for the speed you are carrying at this point. I hope it can be repaired so that I can start from the position in which I qualified."
"We knew today would be difficult, with this morning being the only dry practice, which made qualifying tough, especially as it is the first time I have been here. Obviously, itís bad to crash, but in general, I feel we are moving forward, so I hope I can have a nice race as long as I can settle into a good rhythm. Sorry for giving the guys so much work to do now!Ē
16 . G. Fisichella - Ferrari F60
ďI am very disappointed not to have made it through to Q2. We only had this morningís free practice to prepare the car in the dry, but I think all the same, I improved my performance level, growing ever more confident in the F60. On my final timed lap, I made a mistake which probably cost me the time I needed to get into the next part. Tomorrow, the aim is to get into the points: I know it will be very difficult, starting from the eighth row, but with a good strategy, maybe I can do it.Ē
17 . K. Nakajima - Williams Toyota FW31
"We didnít really get the grip in the dry conditions or get the most out of the car today. Iím really disappointed. Yesterday was a pretty good day in the wet, but it just didnít go right in the dry. Itís very nice to be at home in front of so many fans, I just hope to be able to do better for them tomorrow."
18 . R. Grosjean - Renault R29
ďWith the rain yesterday, we only had one hour of dry practice to get ready for todayís qualifying session. As a result, I havenít been able to do much running on a track that I havenít been to before, so that was a shame. We will see what strategy we can deploy tomorrow in order to give ourselves the best chance to have a good race.Ē
19 . V. Liuzzi - Force India Mercedes VJM02
"We had a few issues in the morning in free practice with the gearbox and we couldn't test everything we needed to, including the soft tyres, which cost us a lot. The guys did a great job to change the 'box and get out again for qualifying but we had a lot of understeer in qualifying and it was not 100% as a result. To make it worse I have not been feeling at my best today so it's a combination of everything really. I hope for more tomorrow for sure."
Championship permutations heading to Japan.
Following qualification Adrian Sutil, Rubens Barrichello
, Jenson Button
and Fernando Alonso
were handed five position grid penalties for failing to slow sufficiently for yellow flags deployed when Sebastien Buemi crashed in the second round of qualifying. Buemi received the same penalty for driving his damaged Toro Rosso back to the pits and impeding his rivals.