Provisional grid for the Japanese Grand Prix

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Mark Webber took full advantage of Sebastian Vettel’s KERS failure during the final stage of qualifying yesterday to secure his first pole position of the season, and the Australian will be keen on picking up his maiden win in his swansong year ahead of his retirement at the end of the season. However, with the German driver mathematically able to seal his fourth world title this weekend, will the team ask Webber to move aside should results allow for Vettel to clinch it at Suzuka?

Following qualifying, there have been a few changes at the back of the grid:

  • Jules Bianchi and Charles Pic were both handed a ten place grid penalty for picking up three reprimands across the course of the season.
  • Adrian Sutil received a five place grid penalty after a gearbox change following a crash in FP3 on Friday.
  • Charles Pic has a drive-through penalty for passing a red light during qualifying. He must take the penalty within the first five laps of the race.

Interestingly, as the penalties are applied in the order they are received, Bianchi actually gains one position on the grid despite qualifying last and receiving a ten place penalty.

Provisional grid for the Japanese Grand Prix

1 Mark Webber Red Bull
2 Sebastian Vettel Red Bull
3 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes
4 Romain Grosjean Lotus
5 Felipe Massa Ferrari
6 Nico Rosberg Mercedes
7 Nico Hulkenberg Sauber
8 Fernando Alonso Ferrari
9 Kimi Raikkonen Lotus
10 Jenson Button McLaren
11 Sergio Perez McLaren
12 Paul di Resta Force India
13 Valtteri Bottas Williams
14 Esteban Gutierrez Sauber
15 Pastor Maldonado Williams
16 Daniel Ricciardo Toro Rosso
17 Jean-Eric Vergne Toro Rosso
18 Max Chilton Marussia
19 Giedo van der Garde Caterham
20 Charles Pic Caterham
21 Jules Bianchi Marussia
22 Adrian Sutil Force India

Lewis Hamilton comes home to Mercedes factory after fourth title

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On Monday, the Formula 1 schedule finally allowed teams to be in Europe before heading to Abu Dhabi for this weekend’s season finale.

And as such, that provided a window for now four-time World Champion Lewis Hamilton to return to the Mercedes AMG Petronas factories in Brackley and Brixworth to be celebrated for taking the driver’s title, as Hamilton an Valtteri Bottas delivered Mercedes its fourth straight constructor’s title.

Hamilton was at Brixworth, the home of Mercedes-AMG High Performance Powertrains (HPP) and its highly successful Mercedes-Benz Power Units first before heading to Brackley, where he was welcomed with a “guard of honor” as the entire team came out to greet him.

The champion was overwhelmed at the response and the welcome.

“This a very emotional day. I was not expecting this, thanks everyone for the warm welcome,” he said. “Today is something that I will never forget, turning up at the front gate of the factory and seeing everyone out on the street to welcome me – I’m blown away.

“This has been an incredible year, it’s been an incredible journey together. There’s a huge amount of respect and appreciation I have for everyone. I’ve been in the sport for a long time now, but to see the work ethic in Brixworth and Brackley really inspires me. Every time I come around, I see everyone operating at 100%, which encourages me to bring my best performance.

“Thank you all for helping me achieve my dreams, it would not have been possible without you. This is the best championship year, because we’ve been fighting another team and because we’ve had the difficulties and challenges we’ve had – that just makes it so much greater.”

A social roundup of images and videos are below, all via Hamilton and the Mercedes team on social media.