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Vettel leads Red Bull lock-out at Suzuka

NEWS STORY
06/10/2012

Ahead of today's all-important qualifying session, the air temperature is 26 degrees C, while the track temperature is 36 degrees. It is bright and sunny but still fairly blowy.

We say "all important" because - groan - many drivers claim that overtaking is difficult here. Seventeen of the last twenty Grands Prix here have been won by a driver starting on the front row.

Sebastian Vettel led a Red Bull 1-2 this morning, after Button led a McLaren 1-2 ib FP1 yesterday and Mark Webber did the business in the afternoon.

This morning Nico Hulkenberg crashed out, his teammate having crashed in FP2, and there remains doubt as to whether his car can be repaired in time.

Other than accidents, and let's not forget Schumacher's crash in FP2, a carbon copy of di Resta's, there have been plenty of lock-ups and excursions and much blistering of tyres. However, a problem that occurred this morning was drivers tripping up over one another as it got busier. Button tripping up over Schumacher, Hamilton over Pic and then Maldonado and A N Other.

With Red Bull looking good, and McLaren not too far behind, there are fears that as Ferrari and Lotus continue to make an impression we may have seen the best of them. We always knew that the F2012 wasn't among the best cars out there, far from it, but can Alonso, currently 29 points ahead of Vettel, continue to take home enough points to maintain the lead all the way to the end in Brazil. At this stage it doesn't look like it.

Schumacher carries a ten-place grid penalty into this session, following his silliness in Singapore, while Button has a five-place hit after his team opted to change his gearbox.

The lights go green signalling the start of Q1, but there is no scramble to get to work. After around two minutes of silence an engine fires up and di Resta head down the pitlane.

As di Resta comes towards the end of his out lap, Perez heads on to the track followed by Grosjean, Raikkonen, Maldonado and Senna.

Di Resta crosses the line at 1:33.661, with Perez posting 33.772 moments later.

As replay catches a massive lock-up for di Resta, Petrov, Kovalainen, Glock and Pic are the first drivers to use softs in this session.

Grosjean goes quickest (33.328) ahead of his Lotus teammate, with Senna posting 33.655 to go third.

Massa goes quickest in S1, as Alonso goes second overall, the Spaniard posting 33.463. As Massa goes quickest in S2, Webber is quickest in S1. Massa crosses the line at 32.946 to go quickest with Webber's 33.019 putting the Red Bull driver second.

Perez goes cross country, the Mexican taking a long, long trip through the gravel at Turn 7 (Dunlop). Elsewhere, Kobayashi has problems with de la Rosa at the chicane.

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