Sebastian Vettel revealed his joy in qualifying ninth for the Japanese Grand Prix was tinged with sadness at never experiencing the Formula 1 circuit again in such conditions.
Vettel is retiring at the end of the season after 15 years in F1 and 12 visits to Suzuka where he is a four-time winner - and the scene of his 2011 World Championship success.
In the Aston Martin, he impressed in qualifying by getting through to Q3 for the first time since June's Azerbaijan Grand Prix.
His single timed lap in the session moved him up to sixth place, but the four-time World Champion was shuffled down to P9 by session's end.
Post-session, Vettel was emotional at realising he would never experience Suzuka again in qualifying spec.
Vettel on Suzuka
"I enjoyed it so much but I'm also a little bit sad right now," he explained to media including RacingNews365.com.
"I had a wonderful session so I'm very happy with how the day went. I was able to improve after the first laps where I had to get my eye in.
"Every lap was getting a bit quicker and better, so I am very happy.
"I love this track so much. I mean Sunday is obviously the main discipline with the race, but it will feel very different because qualifying is really when you feel most alive around here, so a bit sad [I won't experience that again.]"
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"If we can stay where we are, that would be a very strong showing," said Vettel who out-qualified teammate Lance Stroll by 10 places.
"We struggled in Q1 to get through and then managed to [get through Q2] with an incredible lap to get to Q3.
"We then improved that lap time again in Q3, so I think we can't ask for much more.
"I think wet conditions probably could be a bit better but we had a strong day today.
"We can also make a difference managing the tyres, so I'm pretty open to whatever [happens]. We get what we have."
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