Sebastian Vettel’s slim championship hopes took a turn for the better on Saturday evening in Japan.
Not only did the Red Bull driver claim pole position with a relatively heavy fuel load, but title rivals Jenson Button
and Rubens Barrichello
are two of four drivers handed
penalties for failing to slow sufficiently following Sebastien Buemi’s accident and subsequent yellow flags.
Adrian Sutil and Fernando Alonso
join the Brawn duo in being handed five position grid penalties while Buemi has been given the same penalty for driving his damaged Toro Rosso back to the pits.
"The Stewards having received a report from the Race Director that Car No 12, Sebastien Buemi had suffered serious damage at the exit of turn 14 and subsequently impeded other drivers during Q2 met the driver and the team representative concerned," read a statement.
"Having heard the driver and considered the video evidence the Stewards concluded that the driver had impeded other cars during Q2 following the accident and that the damaged car posed a potential hazard to the other cars participating in the qualifying session."
The penalties mean that while Vettel remains on pole from Jarno Trulli
and Lewis Hamilton. Nick Heidfeld
is promoted to fourth ahead of Kimi Raikkonen
, Heikki Kovalainen, Nico Rosberg and Robert Kubica.
Sutil drops to ninth position ahead of Barrichello, Jaime Alguersuari, Jenson Button
. Fisichella moves up to 13th ahead of Buemi, Kazuki Nakajima, Romain Grosjean, Alonso and Liuzzi. Timo Glock or Toyota reserve driver Kamui Kobayashi is expected to start from the pit lane with Mark Webber.
"We have learnt this evening that Rubens and Jenson have been penalised with five-place grid penalties for failing to reduce their speed under the yellow flag in Q2,” team principal Ross Brawn stated. “We acknowledge and respect the decision of the stewards and will do our best to have a good race tomorrow."
Provisional Suzuka grid order following penalties
Sebastian Vettel (GER/Red Bull-Renault)Jarno Trulli
Lewis Hamilton (GBR/McLaren-Mercedes)Nick Heidfeld
3rd row:Kimi Raikkonen
Heikki Kovalainen (FIN/McLaren-Mercedes)
Nico Rosberg (GER/Williams-Toyota)
Robert Kubica (POL/BMW-Sauber)
Adrian Sutil (GER/Force India-Mercedes)Rubens Barrichello
Jaime Alguersuari (ESP/Toro Rosso-Ferrari)Jenson Button
7th row:Giancarlo Fisichella
Sebastien Buemi (SUI/Toro Rosso-Ferrari)
Kazuki Nakajima (JPN/Williams-Toyota)
Romain Grosjean (FRA/Renault)
9th row: Fernando Alonso
Tonio Liuzzi (ITA/Force India-Mercedes)
Pitlane: Timo Glock (GER/Toyota)
Mark Webber (AUS/Red Bull-Renault)