Mark Webber delighted with Suzuka pole but describes defeat of Vettel as 'hollow'
Aussie out-qualifies Red Bull team-mate for the first time in 2013
By Pete Gill. Last Updated: 13/10/13 7:13am
Mark Webber has described his pole position for the Japanese GP as a "little bit hollow" after Sebastian Vettel was hampered by a reoccurring KERS problem at Suzuka.
For the first time since the Korean GP a year ago, Webber will line up ahead of his Red Bull team-mate with Vettel denied a fifth consecutive pole at Suzuka by just over two-tenths of a second.
Vettel was forced to miss most of Saturday's morning Practice Three after a KERS battery problem emerged on his RB9 and the team subsequently confirmed that the reigning World Champion was unable to use the power-boosting unit on either of his two Q3 runs in the top-ten shoot-out.
"Sebastian had a problem so it's a bit of a hollow pole position and he still did a phenomenal lap. But you've got to take them when you can and it's not like they hand them out," said a subdued Webber as he reflected on the 12th pole position of his F1 career.
"It was a bit of a mixed session in terms of predicting who was showing their hand but we did the laps when they counted and it's very nice for me to have pole on my last attempt at Suzuka. It's a real highlight."
Yet while Webber will start Sunday's race from the front of the grid, there is no guarantee that he will still be leading into the first corner. The Australian is a notoriously poor starter and lost out to Vettel in Korea 12 months ago on the last occasion he headed his team-mate off the line.
"It hasn't been too bad of late and we will do everything we can to get away well," said the Australian, who announced in June he will leave F1 for a new career in sportscars at the end of the season. "I'll do my best and go from there."
Webber has also ruled out ceding position to Vettel in order for the German to claim his fourth World Championship.
"I'll do my race and he'll do his race," Webber confirmed. "It's not like it's the last race of the season. In general, we will be there for ourselves tomorrow."
However, that viewpoint was seemingly challenged when Christian Horner, the Red Bull team boss, insisted that both of his drivers "will race for the team".
Asked directly by Sky Sports F1 whether he expected any team orders to be issued to facilitate a championship victory for Vettel, Webber replied: "I don't think there will be, I think they will let us get on with our race. I'm not expecting many phone calls tomorrow."
Should Webber be leading the race, then Vettel would only have the opportunity to clinch the title with a victory were Fernando Alonso running ninth or lower. The Ferrari driver will start in eighth place.