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GP Week : Issue 192
By and large, the final practice session of the Japanese Grand Prix weekend was a quiet affair, made notable primarily by a KeRs issue for title hopeful sebastian Vettel, whose teammate Mark Webber was the fastest man of the morning. Adrian sutil was the only casualty of the sunny session, taking off the nosecone of his Force India in a collision with the barriers at the exit of spoon. The good weather continued into the afternoon, and qualifying took place under clear skies. Esteban Gutierrez was the first man to set a time in Q1, a respectable 1m33.547s that was soon bested by the likes of Kimi Raikkonen, Romain Grosjean, and Jenson Button. There was a moment of high drama in the Sauber garage when Gutierrez returned to the pits, leaping quickly out of a flaming car. The team put the fire out in seconds. With slightly more than three minutes remaining of Q1 the session was red-flagged as Jean-Eric Vergne’s Toro Rosso pulled to the side of the track in flames. After a brief delay – and commendably quick action from the marshals – the session restarted with 2m55s remaining on the clock, enough for one more timed lap. Jules Bianchi left with the masses for his only timed lap of the session, a 1m34.958s effort that left the Marussia racer in the dropout zone with his teammate, the Caterham pair, Vergne, and Sutil. After all that drama, the second qualifying session was fifteen minutes of relative calm. It was the Red Bull pair who were last out of the pits in Q2, with Webber on his out lap getting in the way of Sergio Perez, who was on a flyer. As expected Vettel shot straight to the top of the timesheets, while Webber was just over two-tenths slower in second. The close action in Q2 was at the back of the pack, where gaps were measured in hundredths of a second, knocking out Perez, Paul di Resta, Valtteri Bottas, Gutierrez, Pastor Maldonado, and Daniel Ricciardo. Vettel and Webber were quick out of the pits in Q3, with the Australian four-tenths faster than his teammate on the first round of timed laps. The gap from Webber in first to Hamilton in fourth was just shy of one second, with only four times on the board with three minutes left on the clock. As the clock counted down the times popped up, with a strong first sector from Vettel ruined by an error in sector two that cost the defending champion pole. That honour went to his teammate, whose 1m30.915s was fastest of the afternoon, while Hamilton and Romain Grosjean made up the second row. On the following pages, TRenT PRICe takes a closer look at the incidents that shaped the 2013 Japanese Grand Prix, from Mercedes’ misery to the run of lock-ups and beyond... QUALIFYING 1. Mark Webber (Red Bull) 1m30.915s 2. Sebastian Vettel (Red Bull) 1m31.089s 3. Lewis Hamilton (Mercedes) 1m31.253s 4. Romain Grosjean (Lotus) 1m31.365s 5. Felipe Massa (Ferrari) 1m31.378s 6. Nico Rosberg (Mercedes) 1m31.397s 7. Nico Hulkenberg (Lotus) 1m31.644s 8. Fernando Alonso (Ferrari) 1m31.665s 9. Kimi Raikkonen (Lotus) 1m31.684s 10. Jenson Button (McLaren) 1m31.827s 11. Sergio Perez (McLaren) 1m31.989s 12. Paul di Resta (Force India) 1m31.992s 13. Valtteri Bottas (Williams) 1m32.013s 14. Esteban Gutierrez (Sauber) 1m32.063s 15. Pastor Maldonado (Williams) 1m32.093s 16. Daniel Ricciardo (Toro Rosso) 1m32.485s 17. Jean-Eric Vergne (Toro Rosso) 1m33.357s 18. Max Chilton (Marussia) 1m34.320s 19. Giedo vd Garde (Caterham) 1m34.879s 20. Charles Pic (Caterham) 1m34.556s * 21. Jules Bianchi (Marussia) 1m34.958s ** 22. Adrian Sutil (Force India) 1m32.890s *** WEbbER gETs ONE THE gRID * Charles Pic qualified in P20 but started from P20 thanks to a 10-place grid penalty incurred for receiving his third reprimand of the season in Korea. ** Jules Bianchi qualified in P22 but started from P21 thanks to a 10-place grid penalty incurred for receiving his third reprimand of the season in Korea. *** Adrian Sutil qualified in P17 but started from P22 thanks to a five-place 'new gearbox) grid penalty. 31 GPWEEK.com // 31 GPWEEK.com // PARTNERS: F1 >>> JAPAN