On friday morning he was still feeling "mude. In this condition, the two-time champion could not be a serious rival to front-runner fernando alonso in qualifying. On saturday, the red-bull driver must attack wide awake on the suzuka roller coaster.
Only 17th place in the morning: this was not the vettel who had last raced to pole position in japan three times in a row. "Now we have to see if we can make a decisive step forward overnight," said the 25-year-old. Only in the second session things went better for vettel. In the end, the defending champion from heppenheim set the third-fastest lap behind his australian teammate mark webber and british lewis hamilton in the powerful mclaren. In the first session, jenson button in the second mclaren set the fastest time on the 5.807-kilometer circuit.
In the exciting title race, vettel (165 points), who currently trails ferrari’s alonso (194) by 29, is counting on the suzuka effect as well as an increase in his score. "This is a special course for me. Just look around: all the passion here for formula 1," enthused vettel. "Here you don’t want to go back into the pits at all, you just want to keep on going. Fantastic."Hesse feels particularly at home in japan. Here he won in 2009 and 2010 and last year secured his second world championship title with a third-place finish.
For hamilton, who finished second twice in practice, the red bull are the main competitors. "They look very strong," said the world championship fourth-place finisher (142) before the 15. Seasonal race on sunday. To increase the pressure on alonso after his singapore victory, vettel had to beat the spanish driver again, he has a small cushion on hamilton.
Alonso stacks the deck rather low. The busy points collector called his championship lead a "small miracle" given the scuderia’s inferiority, especially in the first races of the season. Also currently the red bull and mclaren are faster. In the training alonso took the places eleven and five.
Hamilton reckons he has a good chance of winning. After announcing his move to mercedes as michael schumacher’s replacement, the british driver seems more relaxed and liberated, just like the record-breaking world champion. "I feel fantastic about it. Now I can concentrate fully on the remaining races," said hamilton. His main goal is still to become world champion."
Vettel, alonso and hamilton will have taken note of the problems of world championship third-placed kimi raikkonen (149) with good grace. The KERS energy recovery system on his lotus went on strike. The ex-world champion could only do twelve laps and was only 14. In the afternoon. "It certainly wasn’t ideal for determining the best setup, but you can’t do anything about things like that," the finn said.