Vettel delighted by practically perfect performance
6 October 2012
As the end of the 2012 F1 season looms into view, and with Sebastian Vettel still 29pts behind Fernando Alonso in the world championship battle, Red Bull badly needed to find something of their previous title-winning form if they were to stay in this year's battle.
And that's exactly what they delivered in Saturday's qualifying session for the Japanese Grand Prix at Suzuka: the sort of domination for Vettel and his team mate Mark Webber that hadn't been seen all season, but which suddenly seemed so effortless and natural once again.
"I'm very happy with today's result. I think we had a very smooth qualifying session, nearly perfect so we couldn't really ask for more," said Vettel.
"A fantastic team performance; to achieve the front row for tomorrow's race is the best result for the team," said a delighted Red Bull team principal, Christian Horner. "One and two is the best place to start tomorrow's race. Congratulations to Sebastian on his 34th career pole, which puts him third behind two illustrious names, Michael Schumacher and Ayrton Senna, in the all-time list."
Vettel had appeared slightly off the pace in practice on Friday, but worked away overnight on the problems holding him back and bounced into Saturday in unstoppable form.
"Yesterday evening I wasn't too happy as I was losing time in the first sector, but I found my mistake and in today's practice session it worked straight away," he explained. "I don't know why I didn't do it in previous years - and it shows you never stop learning!"
One flying lap in each session was all it took for Vettel to take care of business and set himself up with a shot at back-to-back race victories after clinching the win under the floodlights of Singapore two weeks ago.
"It was good we got the time on the first run, with the yellow flags coming out later," he said, referring to Kimi Raikkonen's late spin which had brought out yellows that thwarted many of his rivals' final attempts to get on even terms with the Red Bulls in Q3. "We only needed one run in every session, which doesn't happen all the time, but it's very enjoyable around here when the car works how you wish, especially on low fuel and fresh tyres.
"It's very special," Vettel summed up of the day's complete success. "We had a phenomenal balance in the car and I had the feeling we could go with the track today.
Mark Webber had to work just a bit little harder for his second place grid position and wasn't quite able to match his team mate for pace, but overall he was happy to be part of the first Red Bull front row lock-out of 2012.
"That was a pretty solid session," he said. "We knew it was going to crank up in Q3, but I'll tell you, this place on low fuel with new tyres is something else.
"I was pretty happy with my first attempt, apart from the hairpin, but Sebastian had that couple of tenths and I thought 'fair play', it was a competitive lap from him," he admitted. "Overall both of us were very competitive in qualifying and that puts in good stead for tomorrow. All the hard work from the factory is paying off."
Not that the Aussie was counting his chickens just yet: "The main day though is tomorrow," he said, pointing out: "That's where the points are."