Sebastian Vettel said that without the efforts of his team this weekend he would not have snatched pole position here in Suzuka.
The German broke his front wing in Free Practice 1 yesterday and has generally not looked like the fastest driver for most of the weekend. However, with a new wing flown out from the factory and determined work after this morning’s practice session, Vettel was able to beat Jenson Button to pole position by 0.009 seconds.
Red Bull team-mate Mark Webber qualified down in sixth place, behind both McLaren and both Ferrari drivers.
“I went off in the free practice yesterday and damaged the front wing, so it wasn't ideal to prepare the car for today,” explained the defending world champion. “We suffered a bit from that this morning regarding the car's balance and were too slow. We sat down after P3 and looked at where we could improve and we were able to extract everything out of the car in qualifying, which was crucial. There wasn't much between me and Jenson! I want to say thanks to the team and the factory for getting another front wing out for me, I would not sit here now without them, so I'm very happy and very proud.
“Regarding one point or no point tomorrow, I'm not focussing on that. I had a lesson yesterday where for a little moment I wasn't 100% focused and lost the car. Tomorrow is a long race and it's challenging; I'm looking forward to it.
“We really love to come here, it's a special atmosphere and the fans are so passionate and crazy. When we leave the hotel in the morning, it's full of people and they're all screaming, so it's a nice feeling to be part of that and starting from pole tomorrow will be special. It's a long race and a lot of things can happen.”
Mark Webber could not explain why he lacked pace during Q3 today and is very disappointed with his grid position. “I'm very surprised to be sixth,” he said. “I did my best, but it wasn't quick enough and it was a bit of a surprise that I couldn’t go with the pace there at the end. Seb obviously did a massive lap for pole so he got on the front row just, which was a great effort. I'm disappointed to be on the third row. The car was pretty good yesterday on the long run – and it was good on short runs too, up until the end there – so clearly I didn’t get the most out of it today. I'll wake up and push tomorrow.”
Team principal Christian Horner congratulated Vettel on an excellent qualifying lap and is hopeful that Webber can make up positions in tomorrow’s race.
“A phenomenal qualifying,” said Horner. “It was very, very close with a tremendous last lap from Sebastian. It's been tight with the McLarens all weekend and he produced a remarkable last lap to get the pole by 100th of a second. This rewards the hard work that's taken place both here and in the factory after one of the new front wings was damaged yesterday and needed to be replaced. It's a fantastic way to pay back that effort.
“With Mark, he was up on his last run and was purple in his first sector, but thereafter the lap seemed to move away from him time-wise and he wasn't able to improve in the final two sectors in a very, very tight grid. Hopefully he can make good progress from there tomorrow.”