Rain is always a great equalizer in Formula One, and there was little doubt that the wet weather that greeted the teams at Fuji during qualifying helped some of the drivers in less competitive machinery show just how good they are.
One of the best performances came from Scuderia Toro Rosso's Sebastian Vettel, who helped his team get through to Q3 for the first time in their history. Autosport.com caught up with the young German.
Q: Is it fair to say that was unexpected?
Sebastian Vettel: "Yeah! We had no practice on Saturday morning, and it was the first time for me in the rain with this car. We made a couple of changes, but we are not like 100 percent on the rain set-up, or 100 percent on the dry set-up. We tried to get it mixed.
"I was surprised I was able to do so well compared to the others. As I said, it was the first time in the rain with the car. I had no expectations really. The first qualifying session was quite good already, and then from there I think we had a quite consistent level of performance."
Q: When did you first realise that this was going to be pretty good?
Vettel: "In the first qualifying I had two spins, straightaway. And afterwards I found my way on the track and I was catching up Lewis (Hamilton). Then I realised that this looked good."
Q: In the final Q3, they called you in for new tyres didn't they, while you were on your quickest lap?
Vettel: "Yeah. I think we miscalculated a bit. And therefore didn't make it clearly for another lap. If so, I think we could have managed to jump another two positions on the grid because (Mark) Webber and (Jenson) Button are 9.1 and 9.7, and I am 9.8 or something."
Q: What's realistic for the race?
Vettel: "It would be welcomed if there was some rain! Saturday was quite good for us - good for me, good for the team and good for everybody. So we would not mind some rain. But let's see.
"If you start in a higher position you want to finish where you are, or even better. You never want to give way to the others. We will see. From where we start, with the right circumstances and the right weather, maybe we can score some points.
"I think the main thing is to use our own potential and hopefully that brings us in a position to grab a point on merit."
Q: How prepared were you for the start of Q3? In Australia, for example, Super Aguri were caught a bit by surprise when Takuma Sato made it through
Vettel: "We didn't not really plan to go to Q3, so we didn't think about strategy too much before qualifying. That is kind of normal for the teams that are normally a step behind and out of reach to go to Q3. And, therefore I think the team had not a lot of time to decide.
"I was also tenth in second qualifying, so it was quite tight. But you know the fuel consumption and you know roughly where you should be fuel wise for which strategy. Of course, the more you put in the more you can play. So we won't stop in the race on lap 10."
Q: How comfortable do you feel in the car now?
Vettel: "It is getting better and better. Obviously this was the first time in the rain. It would be wrong to say that I feel completely at home in the rain and that it is no problem or very easy.
"It was not an easy qualifying. The car was moving a lot and in the rain the car is always moving, no matter which kind of car. I saw Lewis, I saw (Fernando) Alonso, and I saw (Felipe) Massa in front of me, and they were all struggling to stay on the line and squeezing everything out of the car.
"But I am feeling more and more comfortable with the more mileage I get. The two tests I had in Monza and Jerez, they were good to get some time off the race on track. And to try out different things, and drive without knowing that this is all race preparation."
Q: This will be your first F1 wet race?
Vettel: "Yep, I think so. I've done five already..."
Q: So you are a veteran now?
Vettel: "Yeah. I'm one of the old guys!"
Q: You feel comfortable in the wet?
Vettel: "Yeah. Obviously compared to the others we are not too bad, and I feel quite comfortable. I was quite surprised with the lap time in qualifying."
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