Sebastian Vettel has followed up his final practice pace with pole position for Sunday’s Korean Grand Prix, with the German edging out Lewis Hamilton for top qualifying honours by 0.218 seconds.
The result marks the 42nd pole position for the Red Bull Racing driver, and with this being his third pole position in succession, it is also the sixth time in his career that he’s claimed at least three pole positions on the trot.
Having gone quickest in the second phase of qualifying, Vettel was a favourite for pole position in the final top-ten shootout, and promptly moved to the top of the timesheets on the first of his two planned runs in the final ten-minute hit-out.
Hamilton came closest, but with no one else able to challenge, Vettel had the luxury of abandoning his final attempt.
Vettel’s teammate Mark Webber narrowly missed out making it a team 1-2 on the timesheets, but the Australian’s ten-place grid penalty means that he will start from thirteenth position, which promotes Romain Grosjean and Nico Rosberg onto the second row of the grid.
Fernando Alonso led a Ferrari-powered quartet with the sixth-fastest time – albeit eight-tenths of a second slower than Vettel’s pole effort – with teammate Felipe Massa in his wheeltracks.
There was delight in the Sauber garage, with strong qualifying performances from Nico Hülkenberg and Esteban Gutiérrez giving the team its first double-appearance in Q3 of the season, with the pair qualifying ahead of Kimi Räikkönen’s Lotus.
The Finn – who is still suffering from niggling back problems – earned criticism from Jenson Button, who was eliminated in Q2 and blamed the Lotus driver for holding him up. The Englishman qualified behind teammate Sergio Pérez in a disappointing showing for the Woking squad.
Also disappointing were the Toro Rosso and Force India teams, who were unable to overcome their practice malaise en route to being eliminated in Q2.
Proving the very aero-dependent nature of the Yeongyam circuit, the final three rows of the grid were a Noah’s Ark affair, with Williams headlining the sextet eliminated in Q1: Valtteri Bottas managed to outqualify Pastor Maldonado by half a second, while the Caterhams and Marussias will grid up line-astern on the back two rows of the grid.
The latter team’s drivers will switch grid positions on Sunday, with Jules Bianchi earning a rather academic three-place grid penalty for impeding Paul di Resta during the opening phase of qualifying. The Frenchman will drop one grid spot to 22nd, moving teammate Max Chilton into 21st.
2013 Korean Formula 1 Grand Prix – Qualifying Session Times:
|1.||Sebastian Vettel||Red Bull Racing Renault RB9||1:37.202|
|2.||Lewis Hamilton||Mercedes AMG Petronas F1W04||1:37.420||+ 0.218|
|3.||Mark Webber^||Red Bull Racing Renault RB9||1:37.464||+ 0.262|
|4.||Romain Grosjean||Lotus F1 Renault E21||1:37.531||+ 0.329|
|5.||Nico Rosberg||Mercedes AMG Petronas F1W04||1:37.679||+ 0.477|
|6.||Fernando Alonso||Scuderia Ferrari F138||1:38.038||+ 0.836|
|7.||Felipe Massa||Scuderia Ferrari F138||1:38.223||+ 1.021|
|8.||Nico Hülkenberg||Sauber Ferrari C32||1:38.237||+ 1.035|
|9.||Esteban Gutiérrez||Sauber Ferrari C32||1:38.405||+ 1.203|
|10.||Kimi Räikkönen||Lotus F1 Renault E21||1:38.822||+ 1.620|
|Q3 Cut-Off – 1:44.497||Time||Gap*|
|11.||Sergio Pérez||McLaren Mercedes MP4-28||1:38.362||+ 0.793|
|12.||Jenson Button||McLaren Mercedes MP4-28||1:38.365||+ 0.796|
|13.||Daniel Ricciardo||Scuderia Toro Rosso Ferrari STR8||1:38.417||+ 0.848|
|14.||Adrian Sutil||Force India Mercedes VJM06||1:38.431||+ 0.862|
|15.||Paul di Resta||Force India Mercedes VJM06||1:38.718||+ 1.149|
|16.||Jean-Éric Vergne||Scuderia Toro Rosso Ferrari STR8||1:38.781||+ 1.212|
|Q2 Cut-Off – 1:45.982||Time||Gap**|
|17.||Valtteri Bottas||Williams Renault FW35||1:39.470||+ 1.129|
|18.||Pastor Maldonado||Williams Renault FW35||1:39.897||+ 1.556|
|19.||Charles Pic||Caterham Renault CT03||1:40.864||+ 2.523|
|20.||Giedo van der Garde||Caterham Renault CT03||1:40.871||+ 2.530|
|21.||Jules Bianchi^||Marussia Racing Cosworth MR02||1:41.169||+ 2.828|
|22.||Max Chilton||Marussia Racing Cosworth MR02||1:41.322||+ 2.981|
* Gap to fastest Q2 time of 1:37.569 by Sebastian Vettel
** Gap to fastest Q1 time of 1:38.341 by Kimi Räikkönen
^ Mark Webber incurs a ten-place grid penalty after earning his third official reprimand of the season at the preceding Singapore Grand Prix. Jules Bianchi incurs a three-place grid penalty for impeding Paul di Resta during Q1.