Vettel can prolong Button's wait
Sebastian Vettel will start the Japanese Grand Prix on pole position after a qualifying session full of drama and crashes saw the German come out on top. The Red Bull man knows that he simply must win in Suzuka if he is to maintain his slim hopes of becoming world champion.
Vettel is 4/6 to cross the line first on Sunday and win his third Grand Prix of the season. Both of his previous wins came from pole and with his Red Bull fairly well fuelled then he looks good value for the win albeit at a short price.
Championship leader Jenson Button (40/1 to win the race) has been demoted five places from his seventh place qualification meaning the Brit will start down in 12th. Luckily for Button his chief title rival, team mate Rubens Barrichello (33/1) has also been demoted the places, down to 10th. Both drivers were penalised after it was deemed they did not slow down enough under yellow flags.
Adrian Sutil and Fernando Alonso were also found to be guilty of the same offence and Sebastien Buemi also was on the receiving end of the regulations as he was demoted five places as well as a result of impeding other cars and causing a potential hazard.
One can only hope that the Grand Prix is as full as drama and incident as the qualifying session was. Four crashes interrupted qualifying including one which saw Toyota's Timo Glock taken to hospital with a leg injury, despite this the German could still potentially be on the starting grid.
The most likely challenger to Vettel in the race will be Lewis Hamilton in his recently hot McLaren. The defending champion of course cannot win the title again this season but he could still play an important role in determining where the championship ends up.
Hamilton will start in third and is priced at 9/4 second favourite to win his third Grand Prix of the season and second in a row after his success last time out in Singapore. A key reason why Vettel has to be preferred over Hamilton is the fuel loads. The FIA state that Vettel's Red Bull weighs 658.5kg while Hamilton only has 656kg.
In between these two drivers on the grid is Toyota's Jarno Trulli (11/1). The Italian's car weighed even less than Hamilton's at 655.5kg and with the Toyota an inferior car to the McLaren then Hamilton quite rightly is the biggest danger for Vettel.
A win for Vettel will keep him in the hunt for the title provided that Button doesn't finish higher than fifth and with the Brawn man starting down in 12th it looks a very realistic prospect that the race for the championship should at least go to Brazil in two weeks time.