Mark Webber takes pole as Vettel struggles with KERS

Webber’s pole in Japan comes nearly a year to the day since the Australian last started from first on the grid (last year’s Korean Grand Prix). The 37-year-old lapped the Suzuka circuit in one minute 30.915 seconds, a tenth of a second quicker than Vettel.

Mark Webber
Mark Webber. Pic/Getty Images

Behind the Red Bulls, Lewis Hamilton set the third quickest time for Mercedes with a 1m 31.253 lap that was less than two tenths shy of Vettel’s best.
Trouble with KERS

Webber had also topped the morning’s final practice session after Vettel’s Kinetic Energy Recovery System (KERS) — which converts the heat energy generated under braking into an extra 80 horsepower available to the driver for a limited amount of time per lap — was hit by a problem, which persisted into qualifying.

“The laps weren’t too bad to be honest,” Webber, competing in his final F1 season, said following qualifying. “You always want a little bit more here and there but in general it was pretty good. Sebastian had a problem in qualifying so a little bit of a hollow pole position if you like, because he still did a phenomenal lap, but I’m happy to be on pole,” Webber said.

Apart from his KERS issue, Vettel, didn’t look as comfortable in the car as he has in recent races.  The reigning World Champion ran wide at the exit of the high-speed spoon curve on his first run and left his braking a bit late for the hairpin on his final run.

“Obviously we tried hard in the first attempt, a little bit too hard, but on the second attempt I managed to stay on track,” Vettel, who could clinch his fourth straight world title today, said. Lotus driver Romain Grosjean set the fourth fastest time of the day, ahead of Ferrari’s Felipe Massa and the second Mercedes of Nico Rosberg. 

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