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

NHRA: Brittany Force cleared to race this weekend in Phoenix after bad wreck 2 weeks ago

Photo: John Force Racing
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Drag racing is a Force family tradition. So, too, is not keeping a Force family member down.

Just 12 days after the most serious wreck of her six-year drag racing career, Brittany Force and John Force Racing announced late Thursday afternoon that the defending 2017 NHRA Top Fuel champion has been medically cleared and will indeed race in this weekend’s NHRA Arizona Nationals at Wild Horse Pass Motorsports Park in suburban Phoenix, Arizona.

“I flew into Phoenix early this (Thursday) morning and headed straight out to the race track to meet up with my team,” Force said. “I suited up and got belted back into my car that I ran all last season.

“It honestly felt good to be strapped back in and I was surprised how comfortable I was. I’m looking forward to getting back in my car tomorrow (Friday’s first two rounds of qualifying) and getting back in the swing of things with my guys.”

The 31-year-old Force, one of four daughters of 16-time NHRA Funny Car champ John Force, suffered a concussion and bruising after the hard crash she was involved in on February 11 in the first round of eliminations of the season-opening NHRA Lucas Oil Winternationals in Pomona, California.

Shortly after leaving the starting line in a race vs. Terry Haddock, Force’s dragster crossed from the right to left lanes, impacted the retaining wall with a very hard lateral crash, bounced off, spun, went on its side and briefly caught fire after crossing the finish line wheels-up.

While she is still recovering from the bruising, Force feels strong enough to get back behind the wheel. Getting back in the race car could be the best medicine of all, since she has three runner-up finishes in Phoenix, including back-to-back second-place showings in both the 2016 and 2017 national events.

The three-day event kicks off Friday with qualifying rounds at 4 and 6:30 p.m. ET, the same times as Saturday’s qualifying. Final eliminations begin at 1 p.m. ET Sunday.