Mercedes GP didn't seem to put much effort during the Japanese grand prix qualifying session. In Q3 Michael Schumacher aborted a late run to save a set of tires for the race, once he realized he had 7th place by default. Nico Rosberg will start in 23rd place after a hydraulic problem prevented him from making any runs.
Mclaren seemed to be the favorite at Suzuka, by dominating all of the practice sessions and parts of qualifying. Hamilton set the pace for qualifying, with Button and Vettel hot on his trail. In Q3, Vettel took advantage of Hamilton's snoozing mistake and took pole a few seconds after the checkered flag, with a 1:30.466. Jensen Button finished second, just .009 sec behind Vettel.
Hamilton took third unable to improve his first time after he failed to set a second hot lap, when he was caught sleeping by Red Bull's Mark Webber and Schumacher and overtook him on the last chicane.
Ferrari's Massa starts along side Hamilton in 4th, Alonso and Webber start on the 3rd row in 5th and 6th.
Michael Schumacher will start seventh, with Bruno Senna eighth, Vitaly Petrov ninth and Kamui Kobayashi tenth. Even though all four failed to set a time in order to save tires for the race. Their positions were decided by sector times as none of the four completed a lap
"It was a tricky ending to my qualifying session today, but at least we have saved a set of tyres for the race tomorrow. We are still in a good position for gathering some important points, and obviously that is what I am geared to do. I am very happy with how we worked as a team to improve our performance this weekend, and I am really looking forward to having a good race at this great track which is one of my favourites."
Ross Brawn, team principal
"On my first lap out in Q1, the team advised that I had a problem and asked me to come back into the pits. We tried to fix it in time for me to complete a lap, however the hydraulic systems are quite complicated and there just wasn't enough time. So for the race, I have a promising strategy with all the new tyres that I have! But seriously, I will push and try to get into the top ten. That will be my aim tomorrow."
Norbert Haug, head of motorsport
"It was a mixed qualifying session for us today. We had a hydraulic problem with Nico's car right at the start of Q1 which we now need to investigate and establish what the cause was. It's going to be quite a challenge for him starting from the back of the grid but it will be an interesting race with the tyre situation so there should be opportunities. Michael had a good session although the end of Q3 wasn't as clean as we would have liked. It should be a good race and I look forward to seeing what both Michael and Nico can do."
"Michael and our team did a calculated job to save tyres during qualifying and it was more important for us to go into the race with the maximum number of fresh tyres than to maximise our grid position. Thanks to our overall strategy for the session, Michael got into Q3 with a single run in Q1 and Q2 - and will start the race with more fresh tyres available than the cars ahead of him, which means he has a variety of strategic options. We will wait to hear from the FIA whether he will ultimately start from seventh on the grid tomorrow. It was unfortunate that Nico suffered a hydraulic problem during Q1 - sorry for that, Nico. This prevented him from completing a timed lap and means he must start from P23 tomorrow. However, three races ago, Michael started last and climbed through the field to a strong fifth place at the finish. That's positive motivation for us all - Nico first and foremost."
1. Sebastian Vettel Red Bull 01:30.466 14
2. Jenson Button McLaren 01:30.475 14
3. Lewis Hamilton McLaren 01:30.617 14
4. Felipe Massa Ferrari 01:30.804 15
5. Fernando Alonso Ferrari 01:30.886 13
6. Mark Webber Red Bull 01:31.156 14
7. Michael Schumacher Mercedes no time 10
8. Bruno Senna Lotus Renault no time 12
9. Vitaly Petrov Lotus Renault no time 17
10. Kamui Kobayashi Sauber no time 15
11. Adrian Sutil Force India 01:32.463 14
12. Paul di Resta Force India 01:32.746 10
13. Rubens Barrichello Williams 01:33.079 13
14. Pastor Maldonado Williams 01:33.224 14
15. Sebastien Buemi Toro Rosso 01:33.227 10
16. Jaime Alguersuari Toro Rosso 01:33.427 10
17. Sergio Perez Sauber 01:34.704 6
18. Heikki Kovalainen Team Lotus 01:35.454 3
19. Jarno Trulli Team Lotus 01:35.514 6
20. Jerome d' Ambrosio Virgin 01:36.439 8
21. Timo Glock Virgin 01:36.507 7
22. Daniel Ricciardo HRT 01:37.846 7
23. Nico Rosberg Mercedes no time 1 lap
24. Vitantonio Liuzzi HRT no time 2 lap.