Romain Grosjean set the pace in the Q1 session in Suzuka, taking the fastest time ahead of Kamui Kobayashi and Sergio Perez. But some of the faster men did not use soft tyres in the session, so are likely to be faster in Q2. Behind the Saubers were Kimi Raikkonen, Fernando Alonso, Sebastian Vettel, Nico Hulkenberg, Pastor Maldonado, Paul di Resta and Felipe Massa.
Mark Webber was 11th ahead of Nico Rosberg, Daniel Ricciardo, Lewis Hamilton and Jenson Button and Michael Schumacher, who squeezed in at the last moment. The last man to make it was Jean-Eric Vergne.
Out went Bruno Senna, Heikki Kovalainen, Timo Glock, Pedro de la Rosa, Charles Pic, Vitaly Petrov, Narain Karthikeyan.