Tweet from @PBurnsF1: Warm sunshine and blue skies here at Suzuka this morning. Unfortunately that means no pit lane boat racing today.
Tweet from @NobleF1: Suzuka track is drying in parts - but still looks damp in a lot of places. Slicks likely to be the way to go
Looking a bit brighter at Suzuka.
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The BBC (handling the chaos quite magnificently so far) have their live text ready to go, with online streaming for UK viewers coming soon: http://news.bbc.co.uk/sport1/hi/motorsport/formula_one/9076487.stm
Autosport will have live updates too: http://live.autosport.com/commentary.php/id/283
F1.com's live timing will kick into gear at some point: http://www.formula1.com/live_timing/
Tweet from @GaryPaffett: Just about to head to the garage for Q1 at Suzuka. The track is still damp in places so will be a difficult session.
Lewis Hamilton will face a five place grid drop from wherever he qualifies today as they have been in tinkering with his gearbox.
Tweet from @willbuxton: McLaren have confirmed they have switched to their old spec rear wing after failing to get enough practice with new one.
The BBC coverage has started and the sun is shining, it looks beautiful. The weather in Japan is more unpredictable than the UK!
Qualifying session 1 begins.
Petrov leads the pack out, Senna just behind him. Hulk does a practice start. The track does look a little damp.
Everyone has hit the track except two Red Bulls, Alonso and Kubica. Button went out but returned to the garage without a time.
Hamilton has also returned to the pitlane.
Buemi ruins his lap by running a bit wide - his tyres looked nice and green from the painted concrete. I don't know how to tell the grass from the painted bits. Sneaky.
Team radio from Hamilton: It's warm out there and it's quite grippy."
Alonso appears to have been held up by Schumacher - the Ferrari stuck behind the German for a couple of corners.
Hulkenberg leads Barrichello at the moment, with Massa and Heidfeld up there too.
Just about 9 minutes to go, and five drivers still without times.
Anthony Davidson on 5live: "Lewis Hamilton still not comfortable with these conditions. Taking it easy round the corner he crashed at on Friday."
Tweet from ManipeF1: Go Yamamoto! He's 16th at the moment, ahead of both Virgins and team-mate Senna.
The times came flying in, and now it is just Kubica who has not even left the garage yet.
Tweet from @NobleF1: At 10h10m10s on 10/10/10 car 10 is quickest!
Vettel has popped up to P1 now. Kubica is finally on track and preparing to set a laptime.
Kubica's first lap sees him 13th - looked like he was fighting the car all the way round. Petrov is 12th at the moment.
So, now the drop zone features the usual suspects plus Sebastien Buemi.
Everyone is out on track now, bar Barrichello and di Grassi.
Now it's just Rubens, with 23 other cars out on the circuit somewhere.
With a minute left to go, Williams are still sitting 2nd and 3rd, splitting the Red Bull cars. I wonder if they can keep this up for the next two sessions?
Qualifying session 1 ends.
|21||di Grassi||Virgin Racing|
So, Trulli won the battle of the new teams in qualifying. Lotus looking strong again.
With Lucas di Grassi managing to pip his teammate, he's pulled a bit back on their head-to-head statistics. Well, not really.
|Virgin Racing||Qualified Ahead|
|Lucas di Grassi||2|
Vettel was fastest, with Hulkenberg second, and Rosberg just pipped Barrichello for third.
Qualifying session 2 begins.
Massa leads teammate Alonso out on track. Crofty on 5live refers to him as "an evil spectre of the night, looming behind Felipe." Harsh.
Team radio from Hamilton: "You lose so much downforce running behind another car." Reply from pits: "Should be easier in this session with fewer cars on track."
Alonso puts in the first fastest lap, but notably, Hulkenberg is up their again, splitting the Ferraris.
Webber pops up to P1. Button jumps into second.
The two Mercedes cars are the only ones without a time but they are both out on track about to rectify that.
Tweet from @adamcooperf1: This session was supposed to be a bit random but the five title contenders are fastest right now...
Here's a quick snapshot of Ferrari's battle at the moment. Both drivers are in the pits, but will likely take one more lap. Massa is by no means safe into Q3.
Both the red cars leave the pit lane at the same time, Felipe ahead.
Tweet from @InsideFerrari: The crew is quickly refuelling and changing the tyres on both cars, obviously switching to the softs
I suppose that should be was now.
Massa screws up his first sector with a big wobble. He may need another lap.
Current drop zone includes both Force India drivers, Alguersuari, Petrov, Kobayashi, Heidfeld and of course, Massa. Quite a mixed bag.
Massa has lost loads of time in the first sector... again. He may not make this.
Massa gets one more lap. Third time lucky?
Qualifying session 2 ends.
Finally he's got the first sector right. Can he keep it up for the other two?
Jaime finishes ahead of Sebastien to pick up another piece of the pie.
|Toro Rosso||Qualified Ahead|
The fastest three in that session were Vettel, Webber and Hamilton. Looking good for Lewis so far, mindful of his impending five place grid penalty.
Who will be adding to their tally today?
Interview with Buemi: "I didn't have such a clear lap. I lost a lot of time behind a Hispania in the last sector, so I'm very disappointed with my qualifying today."
Qualifying session 3 begins.
A bit of a pause before anyone leaves the garage, and it is Hamilton that hits the track first, followed by Alonso.
Hulkenberg and Button both remain in the garage, whilst Hamilton begins his first flying lap.
Interview with Massa: "I took quite a bit of traffic on my most important lap. This took me out from the Q3. It was a shame..."
Hamilton leads Alonso and Barrichello as the first three times are set.
Vettel posts a 1:30.792 - the first man into the 1:30s this weekend. A really strong lap.
Tweet from @sarahholtf1: Lovely scenes here as the sun glints off the cars as they wend their way around Suzuka's testing curves. All to play for in Q3.
Button and Hulkenberg have left it pretty late to set a time, but both are out there now, with just under two and a half minutes to go.
Button moves up to fourth.
Button's time was set on hard tyres, meaning he'll likely be starting on those in the race later today. A good time for him, and a different strategy call.
Qualifying session 3 ends.
|1||Sebastian Vettel||Red Bull|
|2||Mark Webber||Red Bull|
Those Red Bulls sure are looking fast.
Tweet from @sarahholtf1: Kubica, who'll start 3rd, laughed when I asked him if he could get in among the top runners. Who's laughing now?.. Oh probably still him.
Interview with Button: "I felt better on the prime. When you get more and more soft option rubber down, it doesn't work as well. Looking at it, we should have just done one lap on the tyre. I'll be starting the race from fifth, on the prime tyre, different strategy to everyone else, so we'll see how it works."
Hamilton's grid penalty drops him down to 8th, and promotes his teammate (on that different strategy) to 5th. They'll have an interesting afternoon.
The Williams speed didn't amount to much once the big guns got going, but they should be set up for a good race, Barrichello in front of Hulkenberg.
This one is Red Bull's to lose, as Vettel and Webber sprinted away from the competition in qualifying. They know the circuit suits them and they're determined to make the most of it.
Thank goodness we managed to get qualifying out the way. Now it's only a couple of hours until the race proper. 7am UK time. I'll be back. Will you?
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