Vettel surprised by 'unexpected' Suzuka pole

Qualifying top three in parc ferme (L to R): Charles Leclerc (MON) Ferrari, second; Sebastian Vettel (GER) Ferrari, pole position; Valtteri Bottas (FIN) Mercedes AMG F1, third.
© XPB 

Ferrari's Sebastian Vettel said that claiming pole position for the Japanese Grand Prix hadn't been what he was expecting on Sunday morning.

The delayed qualifying session saw Vettel top Q3 with a time of 1:27.064s, putting him 0.189s ahead of team mate Charles Leclerc.

It meant that Mercedes finished off the front row at Suzuka for the first time since the introduction of hybrid power units.

"I think we're quite surprised, to be honest," Vettel admitted after the end of the rescheduled session, following a day's delay for typhoon Hagibis. "We didn't expect that, to have the front row.

"So, very happy. It was unbelievable. The car being so light on fuel and on new tyres. And we had headwind up the Esses which is what you want because the car feels even better. I don't think I used the brakes except in turn 2.

"I tried to sort of visualise and go through the main points on the track. In my head the lap time was very close to what I did - I was a bit faster with my eyes open!"

Sebastian Vettel (GER), Scuderia Ferrari and Charles Leclerc (FRA), Scuderia Ferrari 13.10.2019

Vettel's delight in the outcome was boosted by finally being able to put a stop to his team mate's run of four consecutive pole positions.

"Seb did an amazing lap, and today he just deserves to be on pole," said Leclerc. "Seb was just too quick, so congratulations to him.

"Just very happy and very surprised to be first and second after the free practices that we had.

"I've been a bit struggling since the beginning of the weekend," the Monegasque admitted. "To be honest I was pretty happy with my lap now in qualie, apart from the last sector where I made a few mistakes, but pole was just not possible."

After yesterday's stormy conditions, Sunday morning was actually bright and sunny. But the gusty winds proved a problem early on, and the track had been washed clean of the rubber that the cars had put down in Friday's practice sessions.

"Not easy, obviously - the conditions are very different to what we had on Friday," acknowledged Vettel. "But the main thing is the sun is out, people are happy.

"Really enjoyed it," he added. "But it's only part of the job done, so let's look forward to this afternoon."

Sebastian Vettel (GER) Ferrari SF90.

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