F1 2012 Japanese Grand Prix qualifying result: Hamilton ninth as Vettel takes Suzuka pole
PUBLISHED: 07:47 06 October 2012 | UPDATED: 19:41 06 October 2012
FORMULA 1 driver Lewis Hamilton will start the 2012 Japanese Grand Prix from the fifth row after Sebastian Vettel claimed pole position in qualifying at Suzuka.
2012 Japanese Grand Prix at Suzuka
* Race distance: 53 laps (191.054 miles/307.471km)
* Start time* 15.00 (local)/07:00 BST
* Circuit length: 3.608 miles/5.807km
* 2011 winner: Jenson Button (McLarens) 53 laps in 1hr 30m 53.427s (202.972km/h)
* 2011 pole: Sebastian Vettel (Red Bull) 1m30.466s (231.083km/h)
* Lap record: Kimi Raikkonen (McLaren MP4-20) 1m 31.540s (228.372km/h)
The 27-year-old Vodafone McLaren Mercedes star from Hertfordshire could only qualify ninth at the Suzuka circuit this morning (Saturday) as Red Bull completed a front-row lock-out.
Hamilton later tweeted: “A real tough day but its never over til it’s over! We win & we loose together. Thank you for all the support. I will be flat out tomorrow!!!”
Reigning F1 world champion Vettel went fastest in qualifying with Red Bull colleague Mark Webber second quickest. It’s the fourth year running that Vettel has claimed pole at Suzuka, although he is being investigated by FIA race stewards for impeding Fernando Alonso.
Jenson Button qualified third in Japan but will line-up eighth on the starting grid just ahead of McLaren teammate Hamilton after a five-place grid drop for a gearbox change.
Button’s penalty means home favourite Kamui Kobayashi will provisionally start third after qualifying fourth and fellow Sauber driver Sergio Perez will go from fifth after qualifying sixth.
World championship leader Fernando Alonso was seventh quickest in Q3 and will start one place higher up the grid after Button’s relegation.
Hamilton’s hopes of securing a good grid position were hampered by Kimi Raikkonen’s spin in Q3. Both Hamilton and Ferrari rival Alonso were on hot laps at the time and had to back off.
“Today’s qualifying session was one of the most disappointing of my year,” said Stevenage-born Hamilton.
“To be honest, I went the wrong way with the set-up and ended up with too much understeer. Until quali, the car had felt great all weekend, but I just couldn’t make it turn this afternoon, and as a result I just couldn’t extract the best from it.
“Jenson showed that the car itself is quite good though – he did a great job today – and our long-run pace wasn’t bad yesterday, either.
“So you never know what’s going to happen in tomorrow’s race. It’s going to be a struggle, but I’ll be pushing my hardest with the set-up I’ve got, and I hope that, through good tyre management, I’ll be able to overtake some of the cars in front of me.
“I’ll be trying to get as many points as I can tomorrow.”
McLaren driver Button had earlier finished Q2 in second place with a time of 1m 31.7s, while Hamilton was eighth on a 1m 32.1s.
It wasn’t a great day for Mercedes GP – the team Hamilton is joining in 2013 – with Michael Schumacher out in Q2 in 13th place, with Nico Rosberg also a faller in 15th.
Schumacher will start 23rd, pending any other penalties, after taking a 10-place grid drop for causing a collision in the Singapore Grand Prix, with Rosberg 14th on the grid.
Romain Grosjean topped the Q1 timesheets in his Lotus and ahead of Kobayashi and Perez, who is moving to McLaren next season.
Hamilton was 14th after a best Q1 lap of 1m 33.061s, while Button’s fastest lap placed him 15th.