F1 2013 Japanese Grand Prix qualifying result: Hamilton on second row

PUBLISHED: 08:00 12 October 2013 | UPDATED: 12:31 13 October 2013

Lewis Hamilton on track at Suzuka ahead of the 2013 Japanese Grand Prix [Picture: Mercedes-Benz]

Lewis Hamilton on track at Suzuka ahead of the 2013 Japanese Grand Prix [Picture: Mercedes-Benz]

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FORMULA 1 driver Lewis Hamilton will line-up on the second row after qualifying for the 2013 Japanese Grand Prix in Suzuka this morning (Saturday).

The 28-year-old Mercedes F1 racer from Hertfordshire qualified third behind the Red Bulls of Mark Webber and Sebastian Vettel.

Aussie Webber outqualified Red Bull colleague Vettel for the first time in 2013 to claim pole position in Japan with a lap of 1m 30.915s.

Webber took advantage of Vettel suffering a KERS issue to take his first pole of the season following a gusty qualifying session at the Suzuka circuit.

World championship leader Vettel completed a Red Bull front row lockout, with Fernando Alonso, the only driver who can pip the German to the title, disappointing in qualifying and taking only P8 for Ferrari.

2013 Japanese Grand Prix qualifying result

Qualifying top 10 at Suzuka:

1 Mark Webber (Vettel)

2 Sebastian Vettel (Red Bull)

3 Lewis Hamilton (Mercedes)

4 Romain Grosjean (Lotus)

5 Felipe Massa (Ferrari)

6 Nico Rosberg (Mercedes)

7 Nico Hulkenberg (Sauber)

8 Fernando Alonso (Ferrari)

9 Kimi Raikkonen (Lotus)

10 Jenson Button (McLaren)

Hamilton claimed third place on the starting grid with a last-ditch lap of 1m 31.253s. He will line-up alongside Romain Grosjean, who qualified fourth for Lotus.

“I am really happy with P3 on the grid and the team has done a great job this weekend, so thank you to everybody for their hard work,” said Hamilton.

“It seems to me that we have a better package here than we’ve had for a while and the car felt awesome to drive.

“The wind direction changed around from yesterday’s practice session and that changed the characteristics of the circuit, which felt like it had much more grip. Third place is a strong result from qualifying but the Red Bulls were just out of reach today.”

Lewis Hamilton racing around the Suzuka circuit ahead of the 2013 Japanese Grand Prix [Picture: Mercedes-Benz]Lewis Hamilton racing around the Suzuka circuit ahead of the 2013 Japanese Grand Prix [Picture: Mercedes-Benz]

Looking ahead to Sunday’s race, Hamilton added: “Managing the tyre degradation will be key tomorrow so hopefully we can get a good start from the clean side of the grid, then see what we can do from there against the guys in front.”

Felipe Massa took fifth position for Ferrari in the provisional qualifying results, with Hamilton’s Silver Arrows colleague Nico Rosberg sixth in the other Mercedes.

Nico Hulkenberg took seventh place, with Alonso, Lotus ‘Iceman’ Kimi Raikkonen and McLaren driver Jenson Button completing the top 10.

The sixth row will see Sergio Perez in 11th position and Paul Di Resta start 12th.

Japanese Grand Prix facts

* Race distance: 53 laps (191.054 miles/307.471km)

* Start time: 15:00 (local)/06:00 (GMT)

* Circuit length: 3.608 miles/5.807km

* 2012 winner: Sebastian Vettel (Red Bull RB8) 53 laps in 1hr 28m56.242s (207.430km/h)

* 2012 pole: Sebastian Vettel (Red Bull RB8) 1m30.839s (230.135km/h)

* Lap record: Kimi Raikkonen (McLaren MP4-20) 1m31.540s (228.372km/h)

The session saw unusually close gaps, with the top six covered by less than half a second and the top 10 less than a second.

Mercedes man Rosberg said: “It was a good lap but it’s annoying when you step out of the car and the gap to the cars ahead is so close. I have put my set-up more towards tomorrow afternoon, so I’m quite confident about what will be a challenging race for the tyres.

“P6 is not a bad position to start from and I will try to climb some places up the order.

“Qualifying always involves some compromises in terms of set-up but we saw in Korea that it was working out quite well for me in the race until my wing broke.

Nico Rosberg racing around the Suzuka circuit ahead of the 2013 Japanese Grand Prix [Picture: Mercedes-Benz]Nico Rosberg racing around the Suzuka circuit ahead of the 2013 Japanese Grand Prix [Picture: Mercedes-Benz]

“I hope we have found the same good balance between qualifying and race performance this weekend.”

Mercedes team principal Ross Brawn said: “That was a slightly patchy qualifying session for us during which it was tricky to put the laps together in the very gusty conditions, so I think we can be reasonably pleased with third and sixth positions on the grid.

“Both drivers did a very creditable job in the circumstances to maximise the car they had under them.

“Looking down the timesheets, it’s intriguing to see such close gaps on a circuit of such challenging complexity, with hundreds of a second accounting for several grid positions up and down the field.

“Tomorrow’s race will in large part be dictated by how well the cars and drivers are able to manage the tyres and I think we can expect a very interesting afternoon.”

Mercedes director Toto Wolff said: “Both drivers worked hard this afternoon to get the best out of a session where the gaps were very close indeed behind the two Red Bulls.

“The key factor now is finding the correct strategy for the race and I am sure we will see a mixture of approaches tomorrow afternoon.

“We will be working hard overnight to find the right compromise for our cars and drivers in the race.”

The 2013 Japanese Grand Prix starts at 7am on Sunday.


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