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Japanese Grand Prix – Suzuka Qualifying

October 3, 2009

I have no idea what the grid will look like at the moment, other than Vettel being on pole. 5 Drivers have penalties for setting fastest laps under yellow flags, due to multiple accidents during the session.

Mark Webber took no part and will start from the pitlane, after he crashed at the end of the final practice session. Jaime Alguersuari and Timo Glock both crashed in qualifying, Glock being taken to hospital to treat a leg injury, but it’s not believed to be serious. Heikki Kovalainen did not help himself to keep his McLaren seat, as he also crashed, and may now have to take a five place grid drop for a gearbox change, as will Force India’s Tonio Liuzzi.

Pre-penalty grid:

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

Championship leader Jenson Button, team-mate Rubens Barrichello, Renault driver Fernando Alonso, Force India’s Adrian Sutil and Toro Rosso’s Sebastien Buemi all were given five-place penalties by the stewards, plus Buemi was reprimanded for bringing his battered car home, very slowly, after his accident, an action deemed to have impeded other drivers. It appears to me that the biggest loser will be Alonso, whilst Nick Heidfeld and Kimi Raikkonen have done quite well out of it, but the biggest overall winner, I think, is Robert Kubica. He has moved up to 7th after all the penalties are applied, and he has more fuel on board than anyone else in the top ten, with Nico Rosberg just below him in the weights.

Should be a good, but probably messy, race tomorrow!

UPDATED: The FIA will announce the actual grid at 10am local time tomorrow. Various provisional grids are circulating, but the positions vary depending on which order the penalties are applied. The FIA say they will apply them in the order the offences were committed. For now, the top 3 are certain, as is Webber starting from the pitlane. Everything else, including Timo Glock’s participation, is yet to be decided.

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