Sebastian Vettel, Mark Webber, Lewis Hamilton, Suzuka, 2013

Webber seizes opportunity to end pole drought

2013 Japanese Grand Prix qualifying

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Sebastian Vettel, Mark Webber, Lewis Hamilton, Suzuka, 2013Mark Webber took pole position for the first time in more than a year after team mate Sebastian Vettel suffered more KERS problems in qualifying.

Vettel’s KERS was only working intermittently during the session and failed during the all-important deciding laps in Q3.

Lewis Hamilton will line up third on the grid alongside Romain Grosjean.


Grosjean headed a disrupted Q1 which was interrupted after Jean-Eric Vergne pulled up at the hairpin with both his rear brakes blazing. The session was red-flagged while marshals tended to his smouldering car.

Remarkably that wasn’t the only fire seen during the first 20 minutes of qualifying. A flash of flame from Esteban Gutierrez’s car forced him to jump out of the car while parked in the garage. Fortunately he was able to continue and made it into Q2.

In the frenzy of the final laps Max Chilton produced his best effort of the season so far to out-qualify both his team mate and the two Caterhams.

Drivers eliminated in Q1

17Adrian SutilForce India-Mercedes1’32.890
18Jean-Eric VergneToro Rosso-Ferrari1’33.357
19Max ChiltonMarussia-Cosworth1’34.320
20Charles PicCaterham-Renault1’34.556
21Giedo van der GardeCaterham-Renault1’34.879
22Jules BianchiMarussia-Cosworth1’34.958


The cut for Q3 has usually been very tight this year and it was no different this time – eight drivers were separated by two-tenths of a second but there was only room for the first three in the final ten.

Fernando Alonso, Jenson Button and Nico Hulkenberg all made it through on 1’32.8s. But Sergio Perez was the first to miss out, eliminated when for the second session in a row Felipe Massa made a last-gasp improvement to get into Q3.

Paul di Resta was also among those eliminated after doing his final medium tyre run earlier than others.

Q2 was the only session headed by Vettel, whose KERS was briefly working again, leaving him two-tenths of a second ahead of Webber at the top of the times sheets with Romain Grosjean close behind in third.

Drivers eliminated in Q2

11Sergio PerezMcLaren1’31.989
12Paul di RestaForce India-Mercedes1’31.992
13Valtteri BottasWilliams-Renault1’32.013
14Esteban GutierrezSauber-Ferrari1’32.063
15Pastor MaldonadoWilliams-Renault1’32.093
16Daniel RicciardoToro Rosso-Ferrari1’32.485


Vettel’s first lap in Q3 might not have been good enough for pole position even if his KERS had been working. He had to gather up a slide in Spoon Curve – a corner which caught several drivers out in final practice – and ended up four tenths of a second off Webber.

Red Bull sent Vettel out for another lap trying everything to get their hybrid boost system working again. Race engineer Guillaume Rocquelin told him to “untoggle then retoggle KERS” if it failed again on his flying lap. It was to no avail – Vettel gained some time but ended up more than a tenth of a second down on his team mate.

Webber produced a clean lap to dip under the 1’31 barrier and clinch his first pole position since last year’s Korean Grand Prix.

Vettel’s problems weren’t sufficient to let any of his other rivals have a look-in. Hamilton took third place while Massa bounced back from his near-misses in Q1 and Q2 to out-qualify Alonso.

Hulkenberg also out-qualified Alonso as well as Kimi Raikkonen. Jenson Button, tenth, set three 1’31.8s during qualifying and reckoned there was nothing more to be had from the McLaren.

Top ten in Q3

1Mark WebberRed Bull-Renault1’30.915
2Sebastian VettelRed Bull-Renault1’31.089
3Lewis HamiltonMercedes1’31.253
4Romain GrosjeanLotus-Renault1’31.365
5Felipe MassaFerrari1’31.378
6Nico RosbergMercedes1’31.397
7Nico HulkenbergSauber-Ferrari1’31.644
8Fernando AlonsoFerrari1’31.665
9Kimi RaikkonenLotus-Renault1’31.684
10Jenson ButtonMcLaren1’31.827

2013 Japanese Grand Prix

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Image ?? Red Bull/Getty

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Keith Collantine
Lifelong motor sport fan Keith set up RaceFans in 2005 - when it was originally called F1 Fanatic. Having previously worked as a motoring...

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58 comments on “Webber seizes opportunity to end pole drought”

  1. ”In the frenzy of the final laps Max Chilton produced his best effort of the season so far to out-qualify both his team mate and the two Marussias.”
    You mean Caterhams, right?

    1. Also:

      Q2 was the only session headed by Vettel, whose Q2 KERS was briefly working again


    2. @keithcollantine can sometimes type faster than processing his thoughts.

      1. Most people have it the other way, but with similar results :-) [I could tell…]. Given how quickly these articles appear, I think Keith is doing a superb job.

  2. Well done Mark. Great effort from Sebastian despite the KERS issues. Happy for Massa and Hulkenberg. And what on earth was Alonso doing in Q3? And who could forget Max Chilton, who had been struggling to beat his teammate in qualifying and all of a sudden he beats both the Caterhams along!

    1. Btw, @keithcollantine I guess in the last paragraph in Q2 section you mean to ‘KERS’ instead of ‘Q2’

      Q2 was the only session headed by Vettel, whose Q2 was briefly working again

  3. Commentators said sebs kers was working on his second q3 lap

    1. May be an on board view of his final couple of laps could clarify that, @fangio85?

    2. @fangio85 it was confirmed by the team that his KERS wasn’t functioning in Q3.

      1. Ah ok, I was just going off what the commentators said, and the fact his second q3 lap was a good improvement on his first.

        1. @fangio85 that’s mostly accounted for by him running wide at the exit of Spoon on his first run ;)

          1. @vettel1 and that his first lap was set on scrubbed tyres.

          2. @guilherme good point actually: does that mean Vettel has a new set which the others don’t have?

  4. Felipe Massa was the other star of the session – I do hope he can maintain that position over Alonso, however unlikely I think it is!

    1. Great job from Lewis and the Hulk too :)

    2. For once, I think we can safely rule out the possibility of team orders :-)

  5. Good quali for Webber.Hope he can go on with it for the race.

    1. Yeah me too! It’s typical really. First time I’ve ever decided I wasn’t going to bother watching and would just check the results… Seb doesn’t get P1. Then again, arguably, there was a reason.

      Hope the race is good. I’ll actually watch that.

  6. If this does not guarantee Nico Hulkenberg a top team drive next year I don’t know what will. Oh Force India, why you let him go?

    1. David not Coulthard (@)
      12th October 2013, 8:52

      Because the Sauber is better for Nico at the moment and Force India somehow foresaw it and didn’t want to compromise such a great driver’s career?

      1. Yeah, when I saw Saubers pace at the beginning of the season. I was like “what have you done Nico!?” but now he’s got a car with good pace at the most important moment of the season, where the contracts for next year are signed ^^

        1. David not Coulthard (@)
          12th October 2013, 9:46


          I was like “what have you done Nico!?”

          Same here, but then Silverstone came, and the next thing we knew Hungary happened.

  7. Watched this quali and then the bathurst top ten shootout right afterward. F1 should adopt the same top ten shootout format as v8 supercars. It was incredibly exciting, and made f1 quali look boring as watching paint dry.

    1. For those who don’t know how it works;
      The top ten drivers from qualifying go to a shootout round, they go out on track in reverse order (10th goes first, 9th second etc.). The first guy goes out, does an out lap and one flying lap, once he’s completed 2/3 sectors in his flyer, the next guy goes out onto his outlap. This way, each driver gets one chance only to decide their spot in top ten, and the camera can follow each one for their entire lap, instead of missing most of the action. The reverse order means qualifying first would be important in q2 if f1 adopted this, as first gets the last lap, the advantage of knowing everyone’s times, and the most rubbered in quali lap. This works great for v8sc, and bathurst was just so tense and exciting watching each lap. F1 quali would be infinitely better like this

      1. It also means everyone in the top ten qualifies in clean air, so no one holding others up, and no traffic problems when everyone decides to go out at the same time

        1. It sounds great :D

        2. It does sound much better than what we have now.

      2. The only problem I can see with that is adverse weather: how does it work in those cases? Is it simply a “tough luck princess” case?

        1. Yep! It really is exciting. You get 1 lap, 1 chance and yes it does sometimes rain halfway through the shootout. Swings and merry go rounds.

      3. David not Coulthard (@)
        12th October 2013, 9:49

        It sounds like the time when the front runners started in the midfield and the ones in the midfield, much of it instead of a certain Jaguar, took the front row in F1.

        1. David not Coulthard (@)
          12th October 2013, 9:51

          Front rows, not just the top 2.

          But if a non-championship race is held in Istanbul, or perhaps Bahrain, or perhaps Willowsprings, or anywhere else where it doesn’t really rain, I’m all for it.

          1. David not Coulthard (@)
            12th October 2013, 9:53

            which means I’m all for it the format used by Bathurst.

    2. @fangio85 We had single lap qualifying in F1 from 2003 to 2005. It was like watching paint dry for an hour every Saturday, and has no relevance to racing. Finding space for a clear lap is part of the challenge of qualifying.

      1. @red-andy Agreed. They spent years tinkering with the qualifying format to get to where we are now and made all sorts of mistakes trying to get a single lap qualy that worked. It may not be perfect every time but it’s the best system they’ve found and does often produce exciting qualifying, I don’t see any reason to start tinkering again now.

      2. Theres an important difference between a “top x shootout”, and “single lap qualifying”. The problem with single lap qualifying is we get 30-40 mins of boring laps that aren’t that quick, and the crowd see 22 laps, and if there is weather the top guys can get shafted for no reason. The problem with the current format is when it gets down to the important few mins at the end of Q3 we don’t see anything, we get to watch one persons lap, then we have a shot of the front straight with the remaining 5-6 guys crossing the line. It’s “exciting” but we don’t see why one person is a few tenths up or down. Did Webber do a good lap today or did everyone else just make a few little mistakes? From the coverage I have nfi.

        A top 6 (or whatever) shootout would be good. We get the excitement of Q1 and Q2, with lots of cars circulating for the fans there and the TV. Then with the shootout we get to see the top guys laps, and if it rains or they stuff up, then at worse they’re 6th rather than 22nd. Additionally it would add some interest to Q2, not only on who gets knocked out, but on who goes quickest to get the best track conditions on the shootout.

        1. @loudhoward +1 it just seems way better. And, try could always, y’know, do something about the stupid reliability on wing downforce so cars can ACTUALLY overtake each other. Then even if it rains in the shootout, the cream will rise to the top in the race naturally. As it is, we rarely get overtakes that aren’t actuated by a button, and even with strange ideas like drs, slower cars still hold up faster cars, because of the masive gap created by not being able to follow close enough in turbulent air. Sorry im ranting now. F1 needs a management overhaul or I feel it’ll only get more stale and boring.

      3. How does it have no relevance? It’s a pure test of one lap pace. Getting caught in turbulent air at crucial moments ruin quali all the time, often turning it into an anti climax. Because they all go out to do one last run at the same time. The current format is stupid, you get to watch two laps if you’re lucky. After that its just a camera showing the last corner, and start/finish straight, and basically its all about watching the timer…

      4. @red-andy, Is right, we suffered through years of Bernie fiddling with the format to make qualifying worth watching, the current format works well and as far as I am concerned is the only improvement to come from Bernie, don’t get him started again.

    3. they tried the single lap qualifying already and it was awful – there are many things I’d change in today’s F1 but qualifying format doesn’t even make the list.

      1. All i can say is v8sc quali makes f1 quali look boring as hell. And, ill add, I’m a bigger fan of f1 than any touring car category. As I said, it isn’t “single lap qualifying”. You run a normal quali schedule to determine positions 11 – last. In f1 this would obviously be q1 and q2 sessions. Then you run the top ten in reverse order one at a time. Go watch this years bathurst shootout if you want to see how well it works, and imagine how good q3 in f1 would be if it worked the same way. I’m sure the footage would be on youtube by now lol.

        1. Yes, that is what used to be like in F1, even with your Q1 and Q2 sessions.

          Do some research!

  8. Possibly last chance for Webber to win. I hope his clutch would work well tomorrow.

    1. @eggry Forget the clutch, I hope Mark Webber himself works tomorow ;-)

    2. @eggry He has to check:
      -The way he starts.
      -The wheel nut correctly adjusted
      – The extinguisher.
      – mULTI 21 or 12 orders (to be ignored by both of them)
      – Turkey’s memories

  9. whats with kimi’s pace in qualifying!!?? Since he announced his departure to Ferrari, his qualifying has been miserable!! Hope this bad run of P9s ends soon!!

    1. He has been weak in quali this whole season. He also says that since the tyre change he can’t get the 100% of the car on a single lap.

      1. He has been weak in quali this whole season.

        Really? Check out his form guide.

  10. Also great, Hulkenberg on 7. Hope he can win a position or two tomorrow :D

    1. Chris (@tophercheese21)
      12th October 2013, 10:27

      Well if the Sauber is as slippery through the air as it was in Korea then he should be difficult to overtake in an already difficult to overtake on track.

  11. If I was webber I’d be sleeping in my car tonight

    1. … got a really good chuckle out of your post!

    2. Hahaha… XD

  12. one ends pole drought, the other ends pole flood.

    1. Most importantly it ruins Vettel’s chance of a triple grandslam.

  13. very good webbo ! , Now just get a good start .

  14. so here is whats going to happen, because of high presentage of poor starts webber always has, vettel will lead to the first corner, vettel will race off into the sunset…

    it should be a great race, I’m really hoping what I predict wont happen cause then the fight for vettel to get by mark will bring Malaysia back all over again and that was awesome!

  15. Any word on Webber block on Perez? Was it just a slow down lap?

  16. C’mon Webber, where’s you 2013 swagger? Look at Seb and Lewis with cool facial hair, vests open. Lewis is even sporting a baseball cap!

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