Skip to main content

Vettel leads Red Bull sweep of front row at Japanese Grand Prix

updated 3:37 AM EDT, Sat October 6, 2012
Sebastian Vettel is on pole position for the fourth straight year at Suzuka.
Sebastian Vettel is on pole position for the fourth straight year at Suzuka.
  • Sebastian Vettel on pole position for Japan GP at Suzuka
  • Vettel joined on front row by Red Bull teammate Mark Webber
  • Title leader Fernando Alonso will go from sixth
  • Mercedes bound Lewis Hamilton only ninth best

(CNN) -- Two time defending world champion Sebastian Vettel claimed pole in the Japanese Grand Prix at Suzuka for the fourth straight year Saturday ahead of Red Bull teammate Mark Webber.

The German clocked the fastest time of one minute 30.839 seconds, which was 0.251 seconds faster than Webber.

McLaren's Jenson Button was third quickest, but will start from eighth after having a five-place grid penalty for a gearbox change.

It has promoted home hope Kamui Kobayashi to third as the home driver produced a superb last qualifying lap in his Sauber to delight the crowd.

Kamui Kobayashi: Japan's fastest man
Formula One strives for green future
Singapore: The future of F1 finance?

France's Romain Grosjean for Lotus will go from fourth with the second Sauber of Mexican Sergio Perez in fifth.

Button's relegation has moved Ferrari's championship leader Fernando Alonso up to sixth as he bids to protect his 29-point title lead over Vettel.

Lewis Hamilton, who announced his move to Mercedes this week, was a disappointing ninth fastest in the second McLaren in a further blow to his receding championship challenge.

Seven-time champion Michael Schumacher, who is being replaced at Mercedes by Hamilton and will retire for the second time at the end of the season, was unable to make the top-10 shootout.

Schumacher, who crashed in practice Friday, was only 13th fastest and will start from 23rd after a 10-place grid penalty for an incident in the previous round in Sinqapore.

But Vettel, who stayed clear of a late qualifying crash by Kimi Raikkonen of Lotus, which held up several drivers, including Alonso and Hamilton, was in imperious form as he stepped up his title bid.

"We had almost the perfect qualifying," he told the post-qualifying press conference.

"The car felt fantastic and I couldn't have asked for any more."

Vettel won in Singapore after race leader Hamilton retired and with six round remaining has become a real threat to Alonso.

Part of complete coverage on
Track the buzz of the 2014 Formula One season, race by race, with all the latest social reaction from motorsport experts.
updated 9:58 AM EDT, Fri September 19, 2014
Take the fittest driver in Formula One and test him against two of the world's leading triathletes in a high-performance laboratory.
updated 12:04 PM EDT, Fri September 5, 2014
Mercedes has the fastest two cars in Formula One this season but there is just one problem -- there can only be one world champion.
He's the best of the rest -- Daniel Ricciardo has been Formula One's surprise package in the first half of the 2014 season.
updated 7:35 AM EDT, Thu July 24, 2014
Formula One is not likely to go hungry in Hungary as master chefs cater in volume for drivers, teams and VIP guests.
updated 10:43 AM EDT, Thu July 3, 2014
It's the elephant in the room of Formula One. What's the prognosis legendary driver Michael Schumacher?
updated 7:10 PM EDT, Fri May 23, 2014
It stimulates all five senses, creating an unparalleled experience for drivers and fans alike. Take a tour of Monaco with Mark Webber.
updated 8:33 AM EDT, Thu May 22, 2014
To be a champion you must win a title -- but to become an F1 legend you must win races at Monaco, the calendar's most testing circuit.
updated 8:38 AM EDT, Mon May 5, 2014
The Formula One driver transcended his sport and even 20 years after his death, Ayrton Senna commands the adoration of fans worldwide.
updated 11:00 AM EDT, Thu May 1, 2014
TO GO WITH AFP STORY IN ARABIC BY SUHEIL HOWAYEK: (FILES) Brazilian F1 driver Ayrton Senna adjusts his rear view mirror in the pits 01 May 1994 before the start of the San Marino Grand Prix. Senna died after crashing in the seventh lap. Some 45 drivers, including Senna and Canadian Gilles Villeneuve, have been killed during Formula One races whose tracks are dubbed by some as the 'circuits of death.' AFP PHOTO/JEAN-LOUP GAUTREAU (Photo credit should read JEAN-LOUP GAUTREAU/AFP/Getty Images)
F1's greatest racer was killed during the San Marino Grand Prix on May 1 1994. The sport hasn't been the same since.