That’s because world champion Vettel, who could win his fourth title on Sunday, struggled all day in Japan with a KERS problem.
“Unfortunately Seb didn’t have KERS (for qualifying),” Red Bull team boss Christian Horner told the BBC, “so with that deficit to get on the front row was really a success.”
Retiring Australian Webber, who has been outclassed by Vettel all season, agreed: “Sebastian had a problem so it’s a bit of a hollow pole but you have to grab the opportunities when you can.”
Vettel could win the championship on Sunday if he wins and Fernando Alonso is no better than ninth.
Spaniard Alonso looks set to play his part, as he has struggled all weekend in the Ferrari and qualified just eighth on Saturday.
“More or less I was eighth, ninth all weekend. It has not been a good weekend,” he admitted.
But if Vettel’s title depends on Webber moving over for the German, bearing in mind the ‘Multi-21′ affair of Malaysia, would the Australian play along?
“They (the drivers) will do the best they can for the team,” boss Horner said coyly.