Vettel explains "Arigato Suzuka" radio message in Japanese GP qualifying

Sebastian Vettel says his ‘Arigato Suzuka’ radio tribute was spontaneous after matching his best Formula 1 grid position of the year in Japanese Grand Prix qualifying.

Sebastian Vettel, Aston Martin AMR22

The Aston Martin driver advanced to Q3 for only the fifth time this season, scraping through Q2 by only three thousandths of a second ahead of Daniel Ricciardo, before going on to secure ninth on the grid for what is set to be his final grand prix start at Suzuka.

At the end of Q2, Vettel said over the team radio: "OK boys, good session. I really enjoyed it. This track is just so much better than all the other ones."

The German added after Q3: "Arigato gozaimasu Suzuka. Thank you. I will miss this place."

Vettel expressed his enthusiasm for F1's return to Japan after a COVID-enforced three-year absence on Thursday, even suggesting that he could be open to a one-off comeback from retirement to race at Suzuka again in future.

Speaking to media post-qualifying, Vettel reiterated his love for Suzuka, where he earned the second of his four world titles in 2011, and spoke of the warm reception he has had from the passionate Japanese crowd.

"I enjoyed the whole qualifying session," he said. "We were very tight to get to Q2, and then even tighter for Q3. It was a great day for us, a wonderful session.

"I receive so much support here. It's great, there's so much energy, people seem very happy for us to be back. There were a lot of German flags around and it just felt like it was good to say thank you."

Fans of Sebastian Vettel, Aston Martin

Fans of Sebastian Vettel, Aston Martin

Photo by: Andy Hone / Motorsport Images

Asked whether the 'arigato' comment was something he had planned in advance by, Vettel added: "No, it was spontaneous.

"This place has given me so much enjoyment and the feeling of being so alive in the car, it felt the right thing to say, to say thank you."

Vettel, who will start Sunday's race 10 places higher up the grid than Aston teammate Lance Stroll, said his performance came despite Suzuka not being a track he expected the car to excel at.

"It's not our track on paper, we have quite a big wing on and our car is too draggy," he said. "I don't know, maybe it's a bit of Suzuka power!

"The Q2 lap was under pressure because I put myself under pressure to get through to Q3 with a perfect lap, and we did it, just. Then you get the confirmation that you made it, and so on. I said already crossing the line, it was a really good lap and I was very happy.

"In Q3 I was able to go even faster, but we're not really racing anyone then because you know everyone else is supposed to be faster than you.

"We did beat Lando [Norris], who was a bit unfortunate, but overall a very good session."

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