Webber denies Vettel another pole in Japan

Sat Oct 12, 2013 7:55pm EDT
 
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By Alan Baldwin

SUZUKA, Japan (Reuters) - Australian Mark Webber led a Red Bull front row sweep on Saturday and denied team mate and Formula One championship leader Sebastian Vettel a fifth successive Japanese Grand Prix pole position.

Vettel, who can clinch his fourth successive world title at the age of 26 on Sunday if he wins and Ferrari's Fernando Alonso finishes lower than eighth, had problems with his car's kinetic energy recovery system (KERS) and had to settle for second.

The German, out-qualified by Webber for the first time this season, will still be favorite to win given the championship situation, and the likelihood of team orders.

Alonso, 77 points behind Vettel with five races remaining, qualified only eighth on a sunny afternoon at the Honda-owned figure-of-eight Suzuka circuit.

"It was pretty good. Sebastian had a problem in qualifying so it's a little bit of a hollow pole position if you like," said Webber of his first pole position since South Korea in October last year.

His time of one minute 30.915 seconds was 0.174 quicker than Vettel's best effort.

"I'm happy to be on pole and you've got to grab that opportunity when you can. We did the laps when they counted, and it's a very nice farewell for me on my final time here at Suzuka and on a phenomenal circuit," added the Australian, who is leaving Formula One at the end of the season.

"It was a real highlight for me. I think in general we've got a good car for the race."   Continued...