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Page last updated at 02:40 GMT, Sunday, 10 October 2010 03:40 UK

Japanese GP qualifying as it happened


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By Mark Orlovac

0334: That's me done for this first stint. Thank you for joining me and for all of your messages. Apologies if I didn't use yours. I'll be back at 0530 BST fully refreshed to take you through the race. Make sure you set your alarm! See you in a bit.

Fernando Alonso: "McLaren did some improvements and we knew Red Bull would be quick. So we expected some difficulties. Starting fourth we have limited the damage and in the race I'm sure the podium is possible. First priority is to overtake Robert [Kubica] as soon as possible. We need to pressure Red Bull. We know they are very quick but if we put some pressure maybe they make a mistake. But so far they are very dominant this weekend."

Lewis Hamilton: "It's not been the best of weekends for us. The guys in the factory have been working so hard to bring upgrades and one of them we have not been able to use. It was difficult for me to come here today but I feel happy to have come this far. I have been struggling with an ear infection but it's great coming out of the car knowing that you did everything you could."

McLaren boss Martin Whitmarsh: "Jenson felt comfortable on the prime tyre. It's a brave decision, but he felt strong on that tyre and he thought if he could get further up the grid on the hard tyure it was worth a go. I think the engineers made a good call there."

keshav201090 on Twitter: "Anyone thinking Mark Webber can outshine Vettel in today's race?"

0324: Apparently the stewards are investigating a complaint from Williams, who claim that Nico Hulkenberg was blocked by Lewis Hamilton. Could that be another penalty for Hamilton?

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James, Glasgow via text: "I can't believe I predict Kubica to throw his hat in and you didn't publish it now I just look like I'm saying told you so!"
Don't worry James, we believe you!

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Luca in London via text: "It would be interesting to see what could Kubica achieve in a championship winning car. He is constantly over-performing the Renault. Truly impressive."

0315: That's Vettel's eighth pole position of the season by the way, and Red Bull's seventh front row lock out. Of the seven races Vettel has started from pole so far this season, he has won only once.

Red Bull's Sebastian Vettel: "This track is made for us, especially the first sector. There are not too many straights. After the confusion yesterday and the horrible conditions, it is a great start to the day but the difficult bit is to come."

BBC F1 pundit David Coulthard: "I am not surprised Sebastian Vettel is on pole but that was a very good marker from Mark Webber. That will be noted by Sebastian. It was a very impressive pole but it was also a very impressive number two from Mark."

0303: Well no-one was going to get close to the Red Bulls were they? Vettel improves right at the very end to a 1:30.785 with championship leader Mark Webber very close behind. Hamilton is third, but he will be demoted five places remember, with Renault's Robert Kubica impressing with the fourth fastest time. Alonso is fifth with Button, on the harder compound tyres, in sixth.


0300: The flag falls... the cars are out on their final quick laps.

0257: Interesting call there for Button. Webber is second with a 1:31.185. You really wouldn't bet against those two. Hamilton is third with Button fourth.

0255: Bosh. Have that. Vettel sets a 1:30.792. The leading drivers are on the softer tyres apart from Jenson Button, who is on the harder compound. He's on a three-lap run, according to BBC pit-lane reporter Ted Kravitz, in order to get the heat into them.

0253: Hamilton is the first of the final 10 drivers to show his hand... and he sets a 1:31.320. The Red Bulls are out now though, Hamilton will not be there for long.

0250: And Q3 begins. "McLaren have showed more pace than I though they had," says Brundle. He adds that he would qualify on the soft tyres now. How forgetful of me, I did not say who dropped out of Q2. Here's the list: Nick Heidfeld, Massa, Petrov, Kobayashi, Sutil, Jaime Alguersuari and Vitantonio Liuzzi.

BBC F1 pundit Eddie Jordan: "This is a wake-up call for Massa. He's had a dressing-down from his president in the week, saying he needs to up his game, and this is a shoddy qualifying result for him."

Lotus technical chief Mike Gascoyne on Twitter: "Red Bull look to have the front row locked out, but who will be next? Also good effort from Williams."

BBC F1 pundit David Coulthard: "It was just one of those days where traffic and errors did not allow Felipe to get in the key lap he wanted."

0243: Oh dear. Massa hasn't done it. He is 12th and will miss Q3. That is not what the Ferrari doctor ordered. "Ferrari are letting McLaren off the hook here," says Brundle. The flag drops and Schumacher, right at the very end, makes it in 10th. Vettel set the fastest time in Q2 with a 1:31.184. Webber second, Hamilton third. Red Bull front row lock out then?

0241: The answer to that is no. He's still 11th. Big pressure now. There has been a lot of chat about his future at Ferrari and this won't help. By the way, yesterday team boss Stefano Domenicali told the BBC that reports that Massa will leave at the end of the season were "categorically wrong".

0238: Massa's out on the softer compound tyre now. And he gets a little out of shape at the start of the Esses. There's a bit of traffic out there as well. Has he got enough?

0236: Schumacher sets a 1:32.314 which is good enough for 10th. Massa is in the drop zone, as are the likes of Kamui Kobayashi, Vitaly Petrov and Adrian Sutil. Brundle believes that everyone needs to get into the 1:31s to feel safe for Q3.

0234: Webber improves to a 1:31.455. Schumacher hasn't set a time in Q2 yet, but he's out on the track now.

0232: ... and the Aussie sets a 1:31.651. Jenson Button then goes up to second with a 1:31.795. Vettel third. Hamilton is currently fifth.

0230: Fernando is faster than you... and you... and you. The Spaniard sets the fastest time so far, a 1:31.819. But wait, here's Webber...

BBC F1 analyst Martin Brundle: "You have to be concerned about the raw pace of the McLaren. Red Bull look strong. Mercedes, too. Ferrari, I don't think we've seen their true potential yet - they're managing engine life and won't be turning things up until it matters for grid position in qualifying three."

0228: And we are off - 15 minutes of Q2. Again, the bottom seven drop out.

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Dave from Romford via text: "Me and the wife have been at my mate's wedding at Bickleigh Castle in Devon, what a great wedding !! Now were all sitting in the Castle lounge with the F1 on!! Go Jenson!!!"

Guitaristkam on Twitter: "I think there are only two others who could get on the front row, Jenson Button and Kubica."

Chequered flag
0220: Rosberg is lighting up the timing screens and he's up to third with a 1:32.238. Impressive. That's your lot for Q1. Crikey that went quickly. The drivers out are Sakon Yamamoto, Bruno Senna, Timo Glock, Lucas di Grassi, fireman and boat builder Heikki Kovalainen, Trulli and Buemi.

0218: There's Vettel setting the fastest time of 1:32.035. Not really a surprise that. Kubica is safe in 13th with a 1:33.002. Lotus driver Jarno Trulli has to slow down at the end of his lap as he lets a few car through. He'll have enough time for another quick one.

BBC F1 analyst Martin Brundle: "I'm not sure McLaren have got the car into the sweet spot here. Both drivers went off the track on Friday and this is a track where you can't carry a car. The corners are too difficult for that - especially the Esses, where the exit of one corner is already the entry to the next."

0215: Kubica fans, don't worry, your man is now out and about. Hamilton improves to a 1:32.809 - which is good enough for ninth. Webber fourth, Button eighth. Toro Rosso's Sebastien Buemi is in the drop zone together with the usual suspects.

0211: Here's Hamilton on his first flier - a 1:33.930. Mercedes driver Nico Rosberg is third, Felipe Massa fourth. BBC pit-lane reporter Ted Kravitz says that McLaren, after testing their new rear wing on Friday, have reverted back to the old one. "It was not really working well enough to keep it on the car," he says.

0208: Renault's Robert Kubica has not yet emerged and here come the Red Bull duo of Sebastian Vettel and Mark Webber. The Red Bulls dominated Friday practice by the way, doesn't that seem like a long time ago?

0206: The Williams of Rubens Barrichello is top of the list early on after a 1:32.858. And he's followed by team-mate Nico Hulkenberg. Martin Brundle is predicting a Red Bull lock-out of the front row. Anyone disagree?

BBC pit-lane reporter Ted Kravitz: "Most of the midfield teams are doing race preparation now while Red Bull, Ferrari and the McLarens are waiting it out for the track to rubber in. The track is very green."

BBC Sport's Sarah Holt in Suzuka: "Jenson Button is one of 10 drivers still in F1 who raced at this track in 2004 - the last time qualifying was postponed until Sunday. He went on to clock up his best result in Suzuka with third place and the McLaren man says: 'We have to get up earlier and it's a much longer day but I quite enjoyed it. Having qualifying in the morning means you're really buzzing after qualifying, whatever happens, and it's good going into the race in a positive mood.'"

0200: And we are off. McLaren's Jenson Button is out on intermediate tyres. Remember that we have 20 minutes in Q1, with the slowest seven drivers dropping out. BBC F1 analyst Martin Brundle says the track is drying out very quickly.

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Brock via text: "Hi Mark, midday here in Oz, gunning all the way for Webber. What a way to spend a Sunday. Hang in there mate!"

David in Stockport on Twitter: "I'm with you Mark, lets hope it's a good one. Qualy then two hours sleep then race time."

BBC Sport's Sarah Holt in Suzuka: "Lewis Hamilton was in a strangely philosophical mood for a man chasing his second championship at McLaren's Meet the Team session Saturday. He said: 'It's still not the end of the world if we don't score on Sunday. There are still four races and, if you look at the past, Kimi Raikkonen came back at me in 2007 with two races left.' It seemed an odd thing to say at the time but by then he probably already knew that his chances of boosting his faltering title challenge in Suzuka had been cut by a five-place penalty for changing a gearbox. If recent form is anything to go by, best estimates here for Hamilton post-qualifying and the penalty is ninth."

0152: As well as the rain, the other big news from yesterday was that McLaren's Lewis Hamilton, who had a torrid time on Friday when crashing out in the first practice session, has been penalised five grid places for changing his gearbox. That's the last thing he needs after crashing out in Monza and Singapore.

0148: Now as you've got up/stayed up to watch qualifying, there's no excuses for you not to get in touch. What did you do last night, how are you planning your day and how do you see today panning out? You can use Twitter or you can text me on 81111 (UK) or +44 7786200666 (worldwide) with FORMULA 1 before your message. What have you got to lose?

BBC F1 analyst Anthony Davidson on Twitter: "Track is now fine for slicks. If only quali had started an hour ago!"

0144: Right, here's the line-up for today. Qualifying gets going at 0200 BST, with telly coverage starting on BBC One with Lee McKenzie from 0150 BST. You can also hear radio commentary on BBC Radio 5 live. All of that lot can be viewed in the console at the top of this page. Nice.

Fans at the Suzuka circuit
Some enthusiastic fans at Suzuka
BBC Sport's Sarah Holt in Suzuka: "You didn't have any plans for Sunday did you? Good, because prepare yourself for an F1 takeover with qualifying, the race and the post-race forum as usual. And after that you'll need a nice long afternoon nap… There's a real sense of excitement here about squishing all the meaningful action into a single day. All of the drivers I spoke to said it won't make any difference to their routines - other than that they'll have to get out of bed earlier. The sun is shining, the track is drying out and the fans were here nice and early to welcome us - dare I say it, but it looks like it will be business as usual at Suzuka."

0138: We've got telly shots now from Japan and it looks absolutely glorious. A little bit different to yesterday. There are still some damp parts on the racing line but the sun is drying it out quickly.

The sun is out
0135: If you're just coming in from a big night out, you lucky things, or have just set the alarm very early, a very warm welcome to you. Saturday was certainly miserable at Suzuka but I've got some breaking news for you... IT'S NOT RAINING! The sun is out and it looks a fantastic day in Japan. Yippee!

0130: After Sodden Saturday, it's Super Suzuka Sunday - qualifying and the race on the same day for the first time since 2004. It's going to be a marathon but I reckon that together, you and I can make it. Who's with me?

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After 60 of 61 laps
Position Driver Team

Race stopped at 60 laps

1 Great Britain L Hamilton Mercedes
2 Germany S Vettel Red Bull
3 Australia D Ricciardo Red Bull
4 Spain F Alonso Ferrari
5 Brazil F Massa Williams
6 France J Vergne Toro Rosso
7 Mexico S Perez Force India
8 Finland K Raikkonen Ferrari
9 Germany N Hulkenberg Force India
10 Denmark K Magnussen McLaren
11 Finland V Bottas Williams
12 Venezuela P Maldonado Lotus
13 France R Grosjean Lotus
14 Russia D Kvyat Toro Rosso
15 Sweden M Ericsson Caterham
16 France J Bianchi Marussia
17 Great Britain M Chilton Marussia
18 Great Britain J Button (ret.) McLaren
19 Germany A Sutil (ret.) Sauber
20 Mexico E Gutierrez (ret.) Sauber
21 Germany N Rosberg (ret.) Mercedes
22 Japan K Kobayashi (ret.) Caterham

see also
Japanese Grand Prix starting grid
24 Feb 10 |  Results
Five-place penalty for Hamilton
09 Oct 10 |  Formula 1
Japanese GP qualifying postponed
09 Oct 10 |  Formula 1
Japanese GP Saturday photos
09 Oct 10 |  Formula 1
Ferrari dismiss doubts over Massa
09 Oct 10 |  Formula 1
Alonso not worried by Suzuka rain
08 Oct 10 |  Formula 1
Hamilton suffers practice crash
08 Oct 10 |  Formula 1
Red Bull on top in Japan practice
08 Oct 10 |  Formula 1
Schumacher 'to continue driving'
10 Oct 10 |  Formula 1
Next two races critical - Vettel
08 Oct 10 |  Formula 1
Alonso declares himself favourite
07 Oct 10 |  Formula 1
Hamilton eyes championship charge
07 Oct 10 |  Formula 1
McLaren duo 'still in title hunt'
06 Oct 10 |  Formula 1
Hard part still to come - Alonso
04 Oct 10 |  Formula 1

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