Vettel takes pole for Japanese GP

Associated Press Modified: October 6, 2012 at 6:01 am •  Published: October 6, 2012
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SUZUKA, Japan (AP) — Red Bull driver Sebastian Vettel claimed pole position for the Formula One Japanese Grand Prix, qualifying ahead of teammate Mark Webber on Saturday.

Vettel, a two-time winner in Japan, secured his fourth consecutive pole at Suzuka and will be in a good position in Sunday's race to further erode the championship lead of Ferrari's Fernando Alonso.

"We had a very smooth qualifying session, nearly perfect," Vettel said. "The car felt perfect from the start. We didn't have a great result yesterday so I'm very happy with today's session."

Vettel won the previous race in Singapore and is just 29 points behind Alonso in the standings with six races left. The German has always performed well at Suzuka, winning here in 2009 and 2010 and taking third place last year to wrap up his second consecutive drivers' championship.

Alonso qualified seventh, and all of Red Bull's championship rivals will start the race several places back after a yellow caution flag in the final moments of qualifying prevented them getting in a last flying lap.

Lotus driver Kimi Raikkonen, third in the standings, caused the yellow flag when he spun at the edge of the track, and qualified eighth, while McLaren's Lewis Hamilton obeyed the flags and slowed, qualifying ninth.

"I spun. I was on a good lap and I was pushing — maybe a little too hard — and lost the rear," Raikkonen said. "It's a shame as the car feels the best it has all weekend. If the car's good tomorrow we should be able to move forward. Let's see what happens."



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