Force India driver Adrian Sutil survived three intriguing, crash-strewn qualifying sessions to join F1 buddy Lewis Hamilton in the second row and will start fourth in tomorrow’s Japanese Grand Prix.
Sutil’s teammate Vitantonio Liuzzi, however, was handicapped by a gearbox problem and the Italian will start 19th tomorrow.
Sebastian Vettel of Red Bull won the pole with 1m 32.160s in what was quite an eventful qualifying segment of arguably the most daunting track of the Formula One calendar.
Toyota’s Timo Glock had to be airlifted to hospital with abrasion in his left leg, while Toro Rosso’s Jaime Alguersuari went for a medical check-up after his car hit the wall.
Alguersuari’s team-mate Sebastien Buemi and McLaren’s Heikki Kovalainen also hit the wall after losing control over the treacherous track.
Sutil easily made the cut for second qualifying session, setting the ninth quickest time. In the second session, the 26-year-old German completed just one flying lap after the two red flags but his time of 1:31.222 was the eighth quickest of the session and eased him into Q3 for the third time this season.
When Q3 finally got started after the third red flag period following Heikki Kovalainen’s accident, Sutil completed a further two flying laps and was just seven hundredths from third position.
“We did not expect to be able to race in the top five, so fourth is a really great position for the start tomorrow,” an elated Sutil later said.
“We had a really hard weekend in Singapore and it’s nice to be back. It’s just fantastic for the team. Tomorrow it will be a tough, long race but I’m just going to focus on what I have to do. I will do my best,” asserted the lanky German.
Liuzzi said he suffered lot of understeering and was looking to put his best foot forward tomorrow.
“We had a few issues in the morning in free practice with the gearbox and we couldn’t test everything we needed to, including the soft tyres, which cost us a lot. The guys did a great job to change the ‘box and get out again for qualifying but we had a lot of understeer in qualifying and it was not 100 per cent as a result,” he said.