Vettel on pole after Suzuka crash-fest

Sebastien Vettel
Red Bull

Qualifying for the 2009 Japanese grand prix will be remembered for its multitude of crashes, with Red Bull's Sebastian Vettel emerging with pole position.

The three other Red Bull Technology chassis are looking particularly second-hand after Saturday's events at Suzuka. Vettel's teammate Mark Webber did not even see the green light of the qualifying session, having written off his RB5 in morning practice.

At Toro Rosso, Sebastian Buemi and Jaime Alguersuari's Ferrari powered cars were competitive, but both of the rookie drivers crashed.

Buemi, having already backed his car into the Degner barriers at the start of Q1, will start tenth, but he was not able to take his place in Q3, after scraping down the arm-co exiting the Spoon curve and then controversially limping his badly broken car all the way back to the pits.

The incident will also draw the stewards' attention because it is believed both Brawns set very competitive sector times despite driving through the yellow flags and debris-strewn area in the dying moments of Q2.

"I backed off. Other people didn't," said Fernando Alonso, who did not make it through to Q3. "We'll see what happens."

Webber, Buemi, Alguersuari and also Heikki Kovalainen all crashed on Saturday at Degner, but the biggest crash of the day was a bizarre one as Timo Glock seemed not to steer for the flat-out right-hander onto the straight.

Trulli (2nd), Vettel (1st)and Hamilton (3rd)
Red Bull

The flu-struck Toyota driver, whose teammate Jarno Trulli qualified on the front row, struck the barriers hard and his head even made contact with the conveyor-belt protection.

He has been airlifted to hospital with what is described as an "abrasion to the left upper leg", but is not otherwise seriously hurt.

Rubens Barrichello, fifth on the grid and two places ahead of his teammate Jenson Button, believes the "very dangerous" run-off areas at Suzuka need to be improved, according to the BBC.

Both Brawns, meanwhile, told reporters after qualifying that they do not have cars to win Sunday's race.

In the top three with Vettel and Trulli is McLaren's Lewis Hamilton, followed by an impressive showing for Adrian Sutil for fourth.

Sutil's Force India teammate Vitantonio Liuzzi was the slowest car in qualifying back in 19th, and his woes are compounded by a five-place grid penalty for a pre-session gearbox change.

Results

Pos

Driver Team Q1 Q2 Q3
1. Vettel Red Bull-Renault 1:30.883 1:30.341 1:32.160
2. Trulli Toyota 1:31.063 1:30.737 1:32.220
3. Hamilton McLaren-Mercedes 1:30.917 1:30.627 1:32.395
4. Sutil Force India-Mercedes 1:31.386 1:31.222 1:32.466
5. Barrichello Brawn-Mercedes 1:31.272 1:31.055 1:32.660
6. Heidfeld BMW-Sauber 1:31.501 1:31.260 1:32.945
7. Button Brawn-Mercedes 1:31.041 1:30.880 1:32.962
8. Raikkonen Ferrari 1:31.228 1:31.052 1:32.980
9. Kovalainen McLaren-Mercedes 1:31.499 1:31.223
10. Buemi Toro Rosso-Ferrari 1:31.196 1:31.103
11. Rosberg Williams-Toyota 1:31.286 1:31.482
12. Alonso Renault 1:31.401 1:31.638
13. Kubica BMW-Sauber 1:31.417 1:32.341
14. Glock Toyota 1:31.550
15. Alguersuari Toro Rosso-Ferrari 1:31.571
16. Fisichella Ferrari 1:31.704
17. Nakajima Williams-Toyota 1:31.718
18. Grosjean Renault 1:32.073
19. Liuzzi Force India-Mercedes 1:32.087
20. Webber Red Bull-Renault

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