Saturday, 3 October 2009

Vettel on pole in Japan




Sebastian Vettel put Red Bull on pole position for the Japanese Grand Prix in a crash-hit qualifying session in Suzuka.
The German will share the front row with Italian Jarno Trulli in a Toyota with Britain's outgoing world champion Lewis Hamilton third for McLaren.
Jenson Button's hopes of wrapping up the Formula One title receded after race stewards slapped a five place penalty on the championship leader.
Penalties
The Briton was one of five drivers, including Brawn team mate and closest title rival Rubens Barrichello, to be punished for speeding in Saturday's qualifying while yellow warning flags were being waved.
Button can only win the championship on Sunday, with two races to spare, if he scores five points more than Brazilian Barrichello.
That looked unlikely as night fell at Suzuka, with the stewards reaching their decision after deliberating for more than three hours.
Button, who needs to finish at least fourth if the title race is not to go on to Brazil in two weeks' time, will now start 12th on the provisional grid with Barrichello 10th.
Renault's double world champion Fernando Alonso, who qualified 12th, and Toro Rosso's Swiss rookie Sebastien Buemi were also handed five place penalties.
Buemi, who scattered debris across the track and brought out the warning flags when he skidded along the barriers in the second part of qualifying, was also reprimanded for impeding others and posing a potential hazard by staying on the track.
The final grid positions could change further however, with Toyota's Timo Glock doubtful after crashing heavily and being taken to hospital.
A spokeswoman for the International Automobile Federation (FIA) said the official grid would not be published before Sunday.
McLaren were also changing the gearbox on Heikki Kovalainen's car, which will drop the Finn five places from ninth once confirmed.
Toyota's Timo Glock is attended by medical staff after crashing out [GALLO/GETTY]Rough run
"It was a tough session. No one got any practice yesterday, very little this morning," said Button, who is 25 points clear of Vettel with three races remaining.
"Three red flags is very unusual so I hope everyone is OK.
"I think we've got a reasonable amount of fuel on board ... I'm not looking at Sebastian really."
All of the top three drivers had team mates who crashed, with the three-part qualifying halted on three separate occasions.
Glock had the most serious accident, plunging into the barriers at the final corner only hours after he had been passed fit to race.
The German, who missed Friday's rain-hit practice because he had a heavy cold and fever, waved and gave a thumbs-up sign as he was extracted from the car but was then flown on to hospital for further checks.
Webber last
Vettel's Australian team mate Mark Webber did not take part in qualifying and will start from the pit lane in last place after damaging his car in a crash in the morning's final practice.
McLaren's Heikki Kovalainen went into the tyre wall at the Degner corner in the final phase of qualifying.
Toro Rosso's Spanish rookie Jaime Alguersuari brought out the first of two red flags in the space of 11 minutes when he ploughed into the tyre wall in the second phase. He was unhurt.
Apart from the Brawn drivers, only Vettel remains in championship contention and he needs to take his third win of the season after his fourth pole of the year.
Red Bull must also score seven points more than Brawn on Sunday to prevent that team from taking the constructors' championship.

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