Taking his ninth pole position of the season, Sebastian Vettel has, with Mark Webber, headed back-to-back 1-2 qualifying results for Red Bull Racing – the team’s eighth of the 2010 season – ahead of tomorrow’s Korean Grand Prix.
Vettel’s final hot lap was enough to snatch pole from the impressive Fernando Alonso after the chequered flag had been waved, and Webber’s last effort saw the Ferrari driver demoted to third on the grid.
Alonso had looked a likely candidate for pole after posting a time below the 1m36s barrier, but it was the Red Bull’s traction in the twister second and third sectors of the lap that delivered Vettel another pole and prime position to keep his championship campaign going.
For Webber, however – and indeed anyone starting from even-numbered grid positions tomorrow – his concern will be in trying to get off the line from the dirtier side of the very dusty Yeongyam circuit, and the Australian’s history of poor starts may be exacerbated at the start of tomorrow’s race.
Lewis Hamilton – starting from fourth for tomorrow’s race – is in the same boat, but the McLaren driver can count himself lucky that he didn’t sustain heavy crash damage after losing his car as he approached the pit entry. He lost the back end of his MP4-24 as he swung into the pit entry, and narrowly avoided collecting the barriers at speed as he bound across the gravel.
Nico Rosberg posted an impressive lap time in Q3 to qualify fifth, ahead of Felipe Massa in sixth.
Jenson Button had a difficult Saturday, and struggled to build tyre temperature en route to a lowly seventh, with Robert Kubica (equally unable to get his car hooked up when it counted), Michael Schumacher and Rubens Barrichello rounding out the top-ten.
Nico Hülkenberg just missed out on making the Q3 cut, and lost all hope of doing so when he lost the back end of his Williams on his final flying lap. The German – whose seat at the team in 2011 is under serious threat – finished ahead of the two Saubers, with Kamui Kobayashi just out-pacing Nick Heidfeld.
Adrian Sutil will start from 14th for tomorrow’s race, while fifteenth-quickest Vitaly Petrov will drop five places in light of his start-line accident at the Japanese Grand Prix. The Russian blotted his chances of a Q3 berth with a half-spin in Q2.
The Toro Rossos of Jaime Alguersuari and Sébastien Buemi were slowest in Q2, but at least they avoided the indignity of a Q1 elimination, which Vitantonio Liuzzi fell victim to for the fifth time this season, with the Italian being demoted by dint of his team-mate Sutil posting a quicker time in the dying seconds of the first phase of qualifying.
The battle between the new teams seems to have closed up a little this weekend, and Lotus and Virgin look more closely matched than of late.
Jarno Trulli emerged quickest of the six drivers in this category, out-pacing Timo Glock by just two-tenths of a second, with the German over a second quicker than Heikki Kovalainen, who will start alongside Lucas di Grassi.
And kudos to Sakon Yamamoto, who not only outqualified HRT team-mate Bruno Senna for the first time this season – raising further questions about the Brazilian’s rookie’s patchy form in the second half of the season – but doing so by a comfortable margin of over 0.8 seconds! Yamamoto could count himself unlucky not to have snuch ahead of di Grassi to get off the back row of the grid either, with the Japanese driver’s best time just one-tenth off the Virgin driver.
2010 Korean GP Qualifying Times:
|1.||Sebastian Vettel||Red Bull Racing||1:37.123||1:36.074||1:35.585|
|2.||Mark Webber||Red Bull Racing||1:37.373||1:36.039||1:35.659|
|5.||Nico Rosberg||Mercedes GP||1:37.708||1:36.791||1:36.535|
|9.||Michael Schumacher||Mercedes GP||1:37.980||1:37.077||1:36.950|
|14.||Adrian Sutil||Force India||1:38.572||1:37.783|
|16.||Jaime Alguersuari||Toro Rosso||1:38.583||1:37.853|
|17.||Sébastien Buemi||Toro Rosso||1:38.621||1:38.594|
|18.||Vitantonio Liuzzi||Force India||1:38.955|
|20.||Timo Glock||Virgin Racing||1:40.748|
|22.||Lucas di Grassi||Virgin Racing||1:42.325|
* Denotes 5-place grid penalty imposed for causing an avoidable collision at the Japanese Grand Prix
[Original images via GP Update]