SUZUKA, Japan — Nobody is going to dominate here said Team Red Bull officials before Friday’s practice for the Japanese Grand Prix at Suzuka Circuitland.
But the cars from Milton Keynes were in such a class of their own in final qualifying on Saturday afternoon that only Jenson Button in the hitherto pace-setting McLaren could get close to them.
Sebastian Vettel took fourth pole of the season, but first since June with a lap of one minute and 30.839 seconds. His teammate, Mark Webber, was close behind in second at one minute and 31.090.
“It was good we got the time on the first run, with the yellow flags coming out later,” Vettel explained of the qualifying session. “We had a phenomenal balance in the car and I had the feeling we could go with the track today. We only needed one run in every session, which doesn’t happen all the time, but it’s very enjoyable around here when the car works how you wish, especially on low fuel and fresh tires.
“It’s very special. Yesterday evening I wasn’t too happy as I was losing time in the first sector, but I found my mistake and in today’s practice session it worked straight away, I don’t know why I didn’t do it in previous years and it shows you never stop learning. Tomorrow will be interesting; it’s hard on tires here, so we will need to work to stay where we are. ”
Button was third quick for McLaren, but will have to serve a five-place grid penalty because of a gearbox change. He’ll start eighth.
Kamui Kobayashi rose to the occasion on his home ground to take fourth place for Sauber, while Romain Grosjean was fifth for Lotus.
Sergio Perez put the second Sauber sixth with point leader Fernando Alonso seventh for Ferrari.