|Red Bull's Mark Webber qualified on pole at the German Grand Prix ahead of Lewis Hamilton and Vettel [GALLO/GETTY]
Japan's Formula One Grand Prix at Suzuka on October 9 is not under threat despite the Fukushima nuclear crisis, a race official said.
Masaru Unno, a spokesman for the Japanese organisers, insisted the race is certain to take place even though the country's motorcycling Grand Prix, set for October 2 at Motegi, is being boycotted by leading riders.
"The distance from the epicentre at Fukushima to Motegi is 120km, while Suzuka is about 500km away. There is absolutely no problem with radiation. Suzuka is completely safe," said Unno, on the sidelines of Sunday's F1 German Grand Prix, at which Red Bull’s Mark Webber will start on pole.
"We have measured the radiation at Nagoya, Osaka and Yokkaichi and there was nothing," said Unno, citing studies.
Japan Formula One driver Kamui Kobayashi said he had no fears over racing.
"I went there and I am fine," said the Sauber driver.
"Nobody is worried in Japan. Going to Suzuka will show support for the people. I expect people to come from everywhere to Suzuka."
Formula One supremo Bernie Ecclestone is also confident the race will go ahead.
"We'll be there. The race will take place," said Bernie Ecclestone, Formula One’s commercial chief.
Vettel qualifies third
On Saturday World Champion Sebastian Vettel took third place behind Lewis Hamilton on the German Grand Prix grid – his worst qualifying performance of the Formula One season.
An 80-point lead in the championship means that even if he does not score another point he cannot be overtaken until September, but that has not stopped his concerns.
The German said on Friday that he was not 100 per cent happy with a car which had powered him to six wins in nine races and he has been exercised over whether it will rain during Sunday's race, given the usual threatening Nurburgring clouds.
"It will be a long race and you never know what can happen with the weather here. Rain is forecast, but we don't know how much we will have and when," he pondered in a Formula One news conference on Saturday.
Adding to the pressure, Vettel has never won at home in F1 and this is his first race in front of his own fans since he lifted the title.
Ferrari's Fernando Alonso's triumph in the last race in Britain showed Vettel was beatable and the team orders there, where Germany polesitter Mark Webber was told not to overtake his Red Bull teammate, have dominated paddock gossip.
Pundits have wondered whether it could all be getting on top of Vettel after McLaren's Lewis Hamilton somehow grabbed second on the grid here to knock the German off the front row for the first time in 15 races. But Vettel is having none of it.
"The most important thing is to have a solid race and the target is to win, which is not impossible from third," he said, with Germans galore set to turn up rain or shine to roar him on at a circuit which does not yet have a deal for future races.
"It's the clean side of the track and we go from there. It doesn't happen too often that you have so many people coming here and supporting the German drivers, so I will make sure I enjoy the race."