Vettel leads Red Bull front row in Korea

Sebastian Vettel heads another Red Bull Racing front row in the Far East by taking pole position in the inaugural Korean Grand Prix. Championship leader Mark Webber lines up in second, ahead of Ferrari’s Fernando Alonso.

Vettel’s ninth pole position of the season came in dramatic fashion as the resurgent German stole the top spot from Alonso after the chequered flag had fallen.

The double world champion’s lap around the 3.492-mile track was one minute, 35.766 seconds, which looked quite impressive, but Vettel’s lap was even more spectacular with a time of one minute, 35.585 seconds. A clear demonstration of the superior pace from the Renault-powered RB6.

To rub salt into the wounds for the Scuderia driver, Webber recovered from his poor first attempt to take second position and lock out the front row. However, the Australian will doubtless be concerned that he must start on the dirty side of the track.

After setting some impressive straight-line speed in the first sector on the new Yeongam thanks to the F-duct and powerful Mercedes engine, the McLarens of Lewis Hamilton and Jenson Button could only manage fourth and seventh, with the latter struggling with grip.

For Lewis Hamilton, this was a disappointment. He shown flashes of speed throughout the qualifying session but in the all-important top ten shootout, he missed out on pole by a margin of half a second. It could have been much worst, as entering that controversial pit lane entrance, Lewis lost control of the car and just missed the barrier as he trundled over the grass at high-speed.

Nico Rosberg will start fifth for Mercedes GP, ahead of a subdued Felipe Massa in the second Ferrari. The Brazilian has been complaining all weekend about the lack of balance in the F10 and yet team-mate Alonso is right at the sharp end of the grid…

Jenson Button struggled for tyre temperature through all three sessions and ended up a distant seventh ahead of Robert Kubica’s Renault, Michael Schumacher’s Mercedes and the Williams of Rubens Barrichello.

Kamui Kobayashi outqualified his Sauber team-mate Nick Heidfeld to go P12, while Adrian Sutil could only manage P14. As for Vitaly Petrov, who will be demoted down five places following his start-line crash at Suzuka, the Russian set the fifteenth fastest time but will start twentieth on the grid.

In the battle of the new teams competing in Formula One, Jarno Trulli took the honours for Lotus with P18 ahead of Virgin Racing’s Timo Glock, who spun in Q1. Behind Petrov will be Heikki Kovalainen followed by Lucas di Grassi, Sakon Yamamoto and Bruno Senna.

Sunday’s Korean Grand Prix is going to be fascinating. Not only for the championship contenders but also in terms of the tyres. Bridgestone has commented that the 24 drivers will face a big challenge to conserve their tyres as they did in Canada if track conditions do not improve. In that race at Montreal, the varying tyre strategies made it an exciting Grand Prix. Hopefully it can provide that on race day at Yeongam.

Qualifying times from Yeongam:

1.  Vettel         Red Bull-Renault      1:35.585
2.  Webber         Red Bull-Renault      1:35.659
3.  Alonso         Ferrari               1:35.766
4.  Hamilton       McLaren-Mercedes      1:36.062
5.  Rosberg        Mercedes              1:36.535
6.  Massa          Ferrari               1:36.571
7.  Button         McLaren-Mercedes      1:36.731
8.  Kubica         Renault               1:36.824
9.  Schumacher     Mercedes              1:36.950
10. Barrichello    Williams-Cosworth     1:36.998
11. Hulkenberg     Williams-Cosworth     1:37.620
12. Kobayashi      Sauber-Ferrari        1:37.643
13. Heidfeld       Sauber-Ferrari        1:37.715
14. Sutil          Force India-Mercedes  1:37.783
15. Alguersuari    Toro Rosso-Ferrari    1:37.853
16. Buemi          Toro Rosso-Ferrari    1:38.594
17. Liuzzi         Force India-Mercedes  1:38.955
18. Trulli         Lotus-Cosworth        1:40.521
19. Glock          Virgin-Cosworth       1:40.748
20. Petrov         Renault               1:37.799*
21. Kovalainen     Lotus-Cosworth        1:41.768
22. di Grassi      Virgin-Cosworth       1:42.325
23. Yamamoto       HRT-Cosworth          1:42.444
24. Senna          HRT-Cosworth          1:43.283

*Five-place grid penalty

10 thoughts to “Vettel leads Red Bull front row in Korea”

  1. After taking his ninth pole position of the 2010 season, Red Bull Racing’s Sebastian Vettel was delighted in how he recovered from a difficult practice session. has the details:

    Sebastian Vettel was delighted to turn his fortunes around in Korea to secure pole position following a difficult practice.

    The Red Bull driver had struggled with the handling of his car from Friday, but managed to emerge on top in qualifying to secure his ninth pole position of the 2010 season.

    In doing so, he outpaced team-mate and championship leader Mark Webber, who will start from second place and, perhaps crucially, from the dirty side of the road.

    Vettel admitted he was very happy to have turned things around.

    “It is a very good achievement from all of us because yesterday was not smooth running,” the German said. “We tried something which didn’t work.

    “On a new track I had very few laps. We tried to save the car a bit and did little running, so had to take what I could out of qualifying.”

    Vettel, who is 14 points behind Webber with just three races to go, insisted he is still focused on doing a good job on Sunday rather than think about the title.

    “You have to take every race as it comes,” said Vettel. “Japan was nice but now we are in Korea. Today I am very happy, with the difficulties we had in practice. I was not able to get into the rhythm, so it’s a good achievement from all of us.

    “The car was quick no doubt but we needed to get it done. The most important thing was to never lose focus and remain calm and that shows we had enough. Our job is done today and we will see tomorrow.”

  2. Championship leader Mark Webber has said he was satisfied with second position on the grid and even played down the issue on taking a new power unit. has the story.

    Mark Webber declared himself satisfied with his second place on the grid for the Korean Grand Prix.

    The Red Bull driver, leading the championship by 14 points from team-mate Sebastian Vettel and Ferrari’s Fernando Alonso, will start from behind the German, but in front of the Spaniard.

    Webber, who finished less than a tenth off Vettel’s pole time, admitted it had been a very close session.

    “It was very close, I got second on the grid, which is a lot better off than other positions,” said Webber. “It would be nice to get pole, but we can still do well from second. Today went to plan, it was pretty close.

    “I wasn’t overtly happy with the first lap on the options, I thought it was better for me to do two times and it turned out to be working not too bad. My second lap was my best so I suppose it was a good lap time but not quite enough to be the fastest.”

    He added: “We knew it was going to be a tight fight, it always is, and on the front row is still not too bad. We are ready to go for tomorrow. It was a good battle and we just missed out a little bit. We are ready to go for tomorrow.”

    The Australian, who decided to use his last new engine for this weekend, played down the advantage of having a new power unit.

    “It is no big deal. It is just another engine. It doesn’t make a huge different,” he said.

    Webber also refused to rule out the McLarens from the fight on Sunday, despite Lewis Hamilton qualifying in fourth and Jenson Button down in seventh.

    “Of course, they will be very quick on the straights, we know that. It was quite predictable coming here that it was going to be like that.”

  3. For Lewis Hamilton, to end up fourth was a disappointment. The McLaren driver accepted that this was the best possible effect when compared to the Red Bulls and the Ferrari of Fernando Alonso. Read the for the full story below:

    Lewis Hamilton accepted that fourth position on the grid was the best he could have achieved in qualifying for the Korean Grand Prix on Saturday, although he also revealed he was disappointed not to have been closer to pole position.

    The 2008 world champion had shown strong form through practice and was quickest in Q1, but in the end was outpaced by the two Red Bulls and Fernando Alonso’s Ferrari – which he said afterwards his McLaren had no answer for.

    “Of course we wanted to be on pole,” Hamilton told the BBC. “The team has done a great job to get new parts here this weekend and the car has felt great all weekend.

    “I think I got more than what we had in the car out of it and I couldn’t really ask for anymore. I don’t know where they found half a second from, but still we are in the fight and we have got some long straights so we will see what happens. It may suit us.”

    Hamilton says that he still remains optimistic for the race, adding that he was hoping to capitalise on the McLaren’s straightline speed in the long straights in the first sector of the lap.

    “I feel that we are competitive, the long runs are good and the car is the best it’s been,” he said. “I’ve just got to do the best I can with what we have you know.

    “You can’t ask anymore from the guys at the factory, the guys here or even from me. We’re still in a fighting position, we have good starts, I’m not on the clean side of the grid but we’ll have to see how much of a negative that is but I think generally we can have a good race tomorrow.”

    The McLaren driver admitted that he had a narrow escape during Q3, when on the end of his first run he had a huge sideways moment on the pit entry lane.

    Hamilton was forced to run over the grass after collecting the car, but could easily have swiped the beginning of the pitwall had he not managed to control the incident.

    “There is big bump on the way in on the entry of the pitlane,” he explained. “You have got to practice your entry on your in-laps just to maximise it for the race. I hit that bump and phoar… it was nearly was big shunt.”

  4. Formula 1 drivers will face as big a challenge of looking after their tyres in the Korean Grand Prix as they did in Canada earlier this year if dusty track conditions do not improve dramatically prior to the race.

    That is the view of Hirohide Hamashima, Bridgestone’s director of motorsport tyre development, who thinks the challenge of the event will depend entirely on how clean the circuit will be.

    “The asphalt itself is quite good and after first practice I checked the track at Turn 1 and Turn 2 and the surface was very stable,” Hamashima told AUTOSPORT. “However, there was still a lot of dust on the track and that could be the problem.

    “When the dust gets on the racing line, then the grip drops too much. That is causing the graining we have seen – and here it is abnormal because the tyres are graining in two directions. We saw something like that in Abu Dhabi last year, but here it is more severe.”

    When asked how he expected the track conditions to pan out, Hamashima said: “It depends on the dirt. If there is no dirt, sand or mud on the track, then maybe by qualifying the track will be in a very good conditions so the hard tyre will not have any graining.

    “So the best story like that would make the race like Bahrain. But in the worst case, if it is still dusty, then it could maybe be worse than Canada.”

    Hamashima also said that teams had to be careful in dealing with the tyre pressures for their cars – because of the challenge caused by the long straights at the start of the lap that sees tyre temperatures drop.

    “If the people don’t keep our recommendations on pressure it will be high risk because it will be very dangerous,” he said. “It is just like the old Hockenheim with very long straights, so very difficult to get up the pressure.”


  5. Ferrari’s Fernando Alonso has said that the most important priority is to finish the Korean Grand Prix. has the story.

    Fernando Alonso says the priority for the Korean Grand Prix is to finish the race to make sure his title chances remain alive.

    The Spanish driver qualified in third position behind the two Red Bull drivers, and although he concedes his chances for the race are looking good, Alonso said it is vital not to fail to score.

    Alonso is 14 points behind Mark Webber with three races remaining.

    The Ferrari driver, who was pleased with his qualifying effort, said the possibility of rain on Sunday was still a big question mark.

    “We need to see the forecast,” he said. “There are still some doubts about the rain possibility, especially in the morning.

    “We need to be calm and finish the race. Maybe tomorrow all five finish the race. We cannot be one of those who does not finish. We need to keep scoring points in every race, and I am sure with that we will be very happy with that.”

    He added: “I think for us it was a nice qualifying, a nice smooth qualifying. We were a little bit quicker and found some pace with the Primes. The car was again very, very quick.

    “And again, once more it is our maximum potential today, which in a way is very good new because qualifying is not our strongest point of the weekend and here it looks close to RBR, so it looks good for tomorrow.”

    Alonso reckons overtaking the Red Bull duo remains a possibility given the nature of the circuit.

    “We have to see,” he said. “There are some circuits where you see some good overtaking points, and you see races where it can be difficult or there is no overtaking at all.

    “Then there are some circuits where you see no real possibilities, like Suzuka 2005/2006 or the last race like Kobayashi. There are two or three opportunities for overtaking here.”

  6. Renault’s Robert Kubica could only manage eighth on the grid and has admitted that the handling of his car was to blame following qualifying. has the details.

    Robert Kubica blamed the handling of his Renault car for failing to achieve a better result in qualifying for the Korean Grand Prix.

    The Pole, who had finished final practice on top and was aiming for a podium finish on Sunday, had to settle for eighth on the grid after suffering from oversteer during the grid-deciding session.

    He admitted starting from the dirty side of the grid will be a big disadvantage.

    “The car had more oversteer than during free practice and I wasn’t completely comfortable,” said Kubica. “If we had got everything perfect, we could probably have been a couple of tenths quicker, but we’re right on the limit here.

    “Unfortunately, starting eighth also means that I will start from the dirty side of the grid. This morning, in the dry, there was a huge difference between the two sides, but if it rains tomorrow perhaps it won’t be such a disadvantage.

    “It’s not going to be an easy race, because everybody is very close together in terms of performance, but I will try to do my best tomorrow afternoon.”

    Team-mate Vitaly Petrov, serving a five-place grid penalty for his accident at Suzuka, qualified down in 15th, which means he will start the race close to the bottom of the grid.

    “I was hoping to get into the top 10 today, to minimise the effect of the grid penalty, and it looked reasonable after Q1,” he said. “During the second part of qualifying, I made a mistake by pushing too hard, touched the kerb and spun.

    “The tyres were then so dirty that I couldn’t set a proper competitive lap time afterwards. It’s a pity, but I must now focus on the race, and take every opportunity that comes to me.”

    In addition, Robert Kubica reckons the drivers who start on the dirty side of the grid will have problems in the start. Read on for details:

    Robert Kubica reckons he is in for a very tough time in the Korean Grand Prix – and thinks one of his biggest problems comes from starting on the wrong side of the grid.

    The Renault driver had looked set for one of his best performances of the season after topping the times in final free practice, but he could manage no better than eighth after the balance of his car dropped away in qualifying.

    But worse than how his car felt, Kubica thinks he is going to face real difficulties getting away at the start – because he is one of the unlucky men who will start on the dirty side of the start-finish straight.

    “I think P8 is like P11 almost,” said Kubica. “This morning [in practice starts] there were more than 20 metres difference on 80 metres [of running], so it is really a lot.

    “People who start on the left hand side, unless it is raining, they will have a big disadvantage and unfortunately I am starting on the dirty side.

    “If someone asks me, I think I would prefer to start P11 than P8. I would have better chances for overtaking into Turn 1, but that is how it is and we have to make sure that we lose as little as possible because definitely we will lose a lot of ground.”

    Kubica explained his form in qualifying as the result of a balance shift – with it not feeling anywhere near as good as it had been in final practice. And the changing track conditions that contributed to that are likely to mix things up even more in the race.

    “It has been quite difficult this weekend because the track was changing very quickly, and now there are some rain predictions so it might wash the rubber out. We will have to see. Tomorrow will be quite difficult and the pace in the beginning of the race will be very slow, and in addition the tyres will be wearing quite a lot so it will be an interesting race.”

    But despite the possibilities of high drama, Kubica reckons it is going to be very difficult for cars to overtake each other because the track is so dirty off line.

    When asked if Turn 3 was the best opportunity, Kubica said: “I don’t think there will be overtaking at that point. It is a very tight corner and a very sharp corner, so very, very difficult.

    “Even if you get a better position or side by side it is still very difficult to outbrake the guy because the grip level difference at the corner is very sharp. If you miss the apex you go off track and, as I said before, as soon as you go off line it gets hard.”

  7. Williams driver Rubens Barrichello has critised Michael Schumacher for blocking him during the second session of qualifying at Korea. Read on for the story as taken from

    Rubens Barrichello was critical of Michael Schumacher following qualifying for the Korean Grand Prix after accussing his former team-mate of obstructing him during Q2.

    And though the Mercedes driver was seen to approach Barrichello and apologise in the media bull pen after the session, the Williams man was still annoyed about the latest incident between the two men.

    “I don’t want it to become very personal,” Barrichello told the BBC. “We had problems in the past, we still have problems in some situations like in Hungary.

    “I am a down-to-earth guy, a very cool guy, which means I have a lot of respect even for the slowest cars and to the quickest ones. So we all make mistakes and we are allowed to make a mistake and to apologise.

    “He just came to apologise in a way that the team didn’t tell him [I was there], but I was on a fast lap and you know you have mirrors and you have everything and you cannot count on everything from the team. I am a little bit sad about the situation because it is only luck that I passed on to Q3 because he really slowed me down.”

    Barrichello added that he was delighted with his performance in qualifying despite only placing 10th on the grid.

    “I went into Q3 thinking we had a full chance to catch up,” he said. “It was an awesome lap and I am so delighted with the lap. We actually caught up, we are still at the backend of (top ten). Unfortunately we are not having the car we assumed we could have and it was a really good lap.

    “Tomorrow anything can happen, because it is sliding here and sliding there and the track will become better. I assume there is lots of things to happen in this race and hopefully we can get some points out of it.”

  8. Michael Schumacher has been given a reprimand for having impeded Rubens Barrichello during qualifying for the Korean Grand Prix.

    Schumacher impeded Barrichello during Turns 10 and 14 of the second qualifying segment and both drivers were summoned by the stewards after the session.

    Barrichello had been critical of Schumacher, saying he was sad about the situation.

    “He just came to apologise in a way that the team didn’t tell him [I was there], but I was on a fast lap and you know you have mirrors and you have everything and you cannot count on everything from the team,” he told the BBC.

    “I am a little bit sad about the situation because it is only luck that I passed on to Q3 because he really slowed me down.”

    The Mercedes driver escaped a penalty, however, but was given a reprimand.

    “The stewards note that irrespective of the team’s opinion that car 9 [Barrichello] was not on a ‘fast lap’, it is ultimately the drivers responsibility to be conscious of closing cars via the use of mirrors and blue flags/lights,” said the stewards in a statement.

    Team-mate Nico Rosberg also escaped a penalty, having been under investigation for having impeded Fernando Alonso during final practice.

    No action was taken on Robert Kubica either, the pole investigated for having slowed down Adrian Sutil.


  9. As for Nico Rosberg, the Mercedes GP driver is looking forward to Sunday’s race after qualifying in fifth position. has the story.

    Nico Rosberg is eyeing a “great” result at the Korean Grand Prix after putting on a strong performance in qualifying.

    The Mercedes driver qualified in fifth position and admitted he was happy with his showing, especially as he finished ahead of a McLaren and a Ferrari.

    “I’m very pleased with fifth place and it is the best possible position that we could have achieved today,” said Rosberg.

    “It’s nice to be ahead of one of the McLaren and Ferrari cars and also Robert who has been very close to us recently.

    “We’re in a good position for the race tomorrow. Strategy will be crucial with the tyre graining but we are strong in that area and with a bit of luck, it would be nice to give the team a great result.”

    Rosberg outqualified team-mate Michael Schumacher for the 14th time this season, the seven-time champion having to settle for ninth position.

    Schumacher said he was pleased with his performance and confident of a stronger race.

    “I had a busy qualifying getting everything together with some changes we made but I’m quite happy with my position,” he said. “There was no room for much more today. The team did a great job getting both cars into Q3 and we will be starting from the better side of the track in my opinion.

    “I’m quite optimistic for tomorrow and we should score some points, especially as our set-up is focused on the race. We had a good race pace in practice yesterday and I’m looking forward to the first Korean Grand Prix.”

  10. Jenson Button blamed tyre-heating issues for a disappointing performance in qualifying for the Korean Grand Prix, adding that he was mystified by their sudden appearance in qualifying.

    The world champion could only manage seventh on the grid and was more than 0.7s slower than team-mate Lewis Hamilton, and said afterwards that he had struggled throughout qualifying with a lack of grip – which contributed to more than one grassy moment.

    “The car was good yesterday and this morning we were very happy with it,” Button told the BBC. “But this afternoon I just couldn’t get the tyre temperature and really struggled with locking, front and rear, and generally low grip.

    “I couldn’t find any grip out there. I’m disappointed to be that far down, Lewis was a lot quicker, but still only fourth.

    “So a bit of head-scratching going to be going on in a minute, but the good thing is that I am going to be on the clean side and there are a couple of long straights after the start so it is going to be a fun first lap.”

    Button added that there are opportunities to be taken at the start of the race and that wet weather conditions might also play their part on Sunday.

    “It’s whatever the weather does,” he said. “If it is cold like this then it is tricky for everyone to get heat into the tyres, especially the fronts if you have got that much fuel on board. It’s going to be tough whatever the weather does, also there is a chance of rain tomorrow. It’s all up in the air a little bit.

    “You can make or break your race on the first lap so we will be looking for a good start and to make up some places.”


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