By Alex Kapadia
Red Bull’s Sebastian Vettel has taken his fourth consecutive pole position at Suzuka, having also clinched pole with Pirelli tyres at last year’s Japanese Grand Prix.
Vettel set the fastest time on the P Zero Yellow soft tyres, which have been nominated together with the P Zero Silver hard tyres, for tomorrow’s race.
Conditions were once more dry and warm for qualifying at Suzuka, with the frontrunners starting the first session on the hard tyre.
However, as the times fell, many of the leading drivers were forced to move onto the softer compound: of which they have three sets as usual for both qualifying and the race.
Paul Hembery, Pirelli’s motorsport director, said: “The pace was so strong and evenly-matched during qualifying that more teams than usual went onto the soft tyres during the first session.
“The drivers who saved a set of the soft tyres are hoping to gain an advantage in the race, where two stops is likely to be the most widely favoured option.
“Congratulations to Sebastian Vettel and Red Bull whose pace has been quick all weekend on this very demanding circuit, which puts the highest energy loads of the year through our tyres.
“Congratulations also to Sauber for placing two cars in the top five: particularly to Kamui Kobayashi who will start his home race from third on the grid.
“Unfortunately we had the yellow flag at the end: otherwise we think we would have had a very close finish to qualifying, but already we have seen an intriguing mix of strategies that is sure to lead to a very fast and tactical race tomorrow.”