Super Sunday in Suzuka – PUMA rocks qualifying and podium within one day

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After the qualifying of the Japanese Formula 1 GP has been delayed and delayed and delayed on Saturday, the FIA made the decision to postpone it to Sunday morning local time. Sebastian Vettel was coping best with this special situation and was starting from the pole position followed by his team-mate Mark Webber.

Robert Kubica managed to pass Mark Webber before the first corner and Mark had to follow the Renault driver until Robert’s rear right tyre came off. From then on the two Red Bull Racing drivers were dominating the race.

But also the Scuderia Ferrari Malboro was very successful with Fernando Alonso finishing 3rd – a result which sees him maintaining his 2nd place in the championship standings.

Apart from Red Bull Racing and Scuderia Ferrari Malboro, the stand-out race of the day came from also PUMA supplied Sauber’s Kobayashi who has been pushed extremely by his home crowd and moved his way up from position 14th to finish 7th.

This result means that we go into the last three races of the year with Mark Webber retaining his lead at the top of the drivers standings with 220 points followed by Fernando Alonso and Sebastian Vettel on an equal second place with 14 points handicap.

Sebastian Vettel: “This circuit is very special – the fans are incredible here and to get my second win in Suzuka is fantastic. It was a nice Sunday; to have qualifying and the race in one day is a unique experience and to finish top in both is great. Thanks to the team, to those here and also back in the UK – they all work very, very hard. We had some small upgrades here and they were a step forward. Our car loves this type of circuit and I’m very happy and very proud of today’s result. Mark was running in second and was trying to put me under pressure, but having track position helps and the race was basically about managing the car and the tyres until the first stop. It wasn’t certain when the soft tyres would go off, but the timing of the pitstop was right. We were then behind Jenson at the start of the second stint. I wasn’t pushing as I trying to control the gap while waiting for him to make his stop. It wasn’t easy today, but it was a nice and controlled race.”

Mark Webber: “Sebastian had an extra half tenth this morning and pole position is a nice thing to have on the chess board going into this race. Ultimately qualifying was important, but I’m happy with how I drove today – I couldn’t have got a great deal more out of the car. I wasn’t that happy with the set-up on Friday, but the guys did a good job to get it back to a place where I was happier. I pushed Sebastian in the race – we pulled away on the soft tyre in the first stint and I was comfortable on the hard tyre after my stop. It was a formation finish and a one-two for the team; it’s a great result for us in the Constructors’ Championship and a good result for me in the Drivers’. Sebastian deserved the victory today, I’m happy.”

Christian Horner: “It’s been a fantastic day for the team with the added pressure of having to qualify this morning. We secured the front row and then converted that into a one-two
finish this afternoon, it was a perfect performance from the team and the drivers and it’s a fantastic result. We had to keep an eye on Jenson Button’s strategy because of him running on a different tyre at the start of the race and he started to back things up a little bit after half-distance, but at no point were we overly concerned and both drivers did a very good job of looking after their tyres and cars. Mark’s managed to extend his Championship lead over Fernando, who Sebastian is now tied on points with, while in the Constructors’, we’ve obviously managed to open up a healthy margin.”

Fernando Alonso: “All things considered this was a positive day for us. On a circuit that seemed purpose built to show off the strengths of the Red Bull, we managed to get on the podium, losing just three points to the championship leader. We had a bit of luck because Kubica’s retirement meant a potentially very strong rival was out of the reckoning. I did not make an ideal start, partly because of a problem with the clutch, but then I soon made up a place over Button. In the first part, we ran a defensive race, trying to keep the McLarens at a distance, especially Jenson, who was on a very different strategy to ours. Then when we realised they were no longer a threat we tried to put the Red Bulls under a bit of pressure, but there was nothing to be done. Here they were perfect and when that happens they are really hard to beat. However, experience tells us that it is not always like this, or they would have already won the championship. So we must try and make the most of every opportunity. We are trying to improve the F10 with every passing race: here for example we had a new oil from Shell and other minor aerodynamic updates. We will have further new parts in the next few races: maybe not so big but put together they could give us a few tenths which is always useful. We come out of this weekend with our heads held high, knowing that we must try and beat Webber in the coming races to close down the gap to the top.”

Felipe Massa: “I think I was really cursed today! This morning in qualifying, because of traffic, I failed to get into Q3. This afternoon in the race, I didn’t even manage to get through the first two corners. At the start, Rosberg, who was in front of me, got away poorly and at first I tried to move to the left, but Sutil was coming there. Then I moved to the right, but in so doing I found myself on the grass and the kerb. At that point the car took off on its own, I was unable to make it through the first corner and I ended up colliding with Liuzzi’s Force India. It’s a shame, because as Fernando showed, in the race our car had a good pace and I could have fought for a points finish. The main problem is still qualifying: again today I struggled, even if traffic played its part. In the race, the situation is better but we know how difficult it is to overtake. These past two races have been frustrating for me but we have seen many times this year how quickly the situation can change: I will be trying my very best in the remaining
three Grand Prix.”

Stefano Domenicali: “First of all, I want once again to offer our condolences for the deaths of the soldiers yesterday in Afghanistan, which has affected us deeply. Then I want to praise the team, who worked in impeccable fashion on an unusual day, with qualifying and the race following one after the other. We knew that, at this track, Red Bull would be very strong and as we saw this morning, other teams also proved to be competitive. This third place is therefore a great result, in line with our game plan and it keeps us right in with a chance in the Drivers’ championship. Unfortunately, the situation in the Constructors’ took a knock because Felipe had to retire after the accident at the start. I am very disappointed for our driver, who despite a less than brilliant grid position had every chance of having a good race. There are three Grands Prix to go in this championship which is proving very hard to predict: it will be vital to concentrate all the time and give our utmost, day after day. As we have said for a while now, the maths can wait until Abu Dhabi on 14 November. Finally, I want to congratulate our customer teams, who brought home a further three Ferrari engines in the top ten.”