Vettel achieves his fourth Formula 1 title with dominant win in India

Sebastian Vettel became the youngest four-time Formula 1 world champion after taking the chequered flag in style at the Indian Grand Prix.

The Red Bull Racing driver converted his pole position into the lead at the first corner at the Buddh International Circuit and despite the differences in tyre strategy, the defending world champion was on fine form to race against his rivals.

Vettel started on Pirelli’s soft tyres and was the first driver into the pits for the medium compound at the end of the second lap.

Once Felipe Massa’s Ferrari and the Mercedes pair of Nico Rosberg and Lewis Hamilton had got rid of their softs, Mark Webber was left in front while the German battled through the pack.

A combination of passing moves and pitstops for others quickly moved Vettel up from P18 to fifth. Despite being in traffic, he cut an 18-second deficit to his Red Bull team-mate to 11-second by the time the Australian made his first stop on lap 28.

By that point Vettel had passed Romain Grosjean’s Lotus, his future team-mate Daniel Ricciardo and McLaren’s Sergio Perez, meaning he retook the lead at this point.

Both Red Bull drivers made their final stops by lap 33, with the team adopting a similar, short-stint strategy on softs for Webber.

Webber’s 11-second deficit to Vettel before those final stops became one of more than 13-second after them, leading to the team instructing the German to ease his pace and protect his tyres.

It became irrelevant after ten laps when Webber was forced to retired from second position after suffering an alternator problem.

Webber’s misfortune promoted Kimi Raikkonen to second place, the Lotus driver attempting to make it to the finish with a 52-lap stint on medium Pirellis.

But The Iceman could not hold off the two-stopping Rosberg, who used his DRS to ease into second with eight laps to the flag. He finished 29-second behind Vettel as Red Bull clinched the constructors’ title.

Raikkonen’s pace during the final few laps was over a second slower than those chasing him, including his team-mate Grosjean, whose rubber was 46 laps old by the end.

The Frenchman, who started in P17, pulled onto Raikkonen’s tail with four laps to go and passed the Finn for third at the exit of Turn 4, only to cede back the place immediately to avoid a penalty.

Raikkonen let Grosjean by further around the lap to allow him to finish on the podium for a third consecutive race. He was then passed by Massa for fourth as they crossed the start/finish line seconds later.

The battling Hamilton and Perez were with Raikkonen a lap-and-a-half later, Perez using his DRS and KERS to pass both down the back straight and take fifth – his best result since joining McLaren last winter.

Raikkonen, who lost sixth to Hamilton during the same move, pitted for fresh rubber with just two laps to the end, but was able to remain ahead of Paul di Resta and set the race’s fastest lap.

Di Resta and Adrian Sutil made it two Force Indias in the points with Ricciardo completing the top ten.

Fernando Alonso, the only driver who arrived in India with a chance of denying Vettel the title, had a race fraught with incidents.

He stopped early for tyres and a new front wing after clipping Webber’s rear wing and damaging his nosecone at the exit of the Turn 1, and then banged wheels with Jenson Button two corners later.

The Ferrari driver spent his entire race in the midfield and finished P11 after stopping three times. And battling with Ricciardo, Pastor Maldonado and Button late on.

Nico Hulkenberg drove strongly all weekend and was on course for eighth when he pitted near the end with a problem with the floor of his Sauber. He retired with three laps left.

So, a remarkable victory for the 26-year-old German. Sebastian Vettel is now the sport’s youngest four-time world champion and joins the list of greats of achieving the ultimate prize.

Red Bull Racing also won the constructors’ title for the fourth consecutive season. With both championships done, the driver and team can now enjoy themselves in the remaining three races of the 2013 season.

Indian Grand Prix race results after 60 laps:

1.  Vettel         Red Bull-Renault           1h31:12.187
2.  Rosberg        Mercedes                   +29.823
3.  Grosjean       Lotus-Renault              +39.892
4.  Massa          Ferrari                    +41.692
5.  Perez          McLaren-Mercedes           +43.829
6.  Hamilton       Mercedes                   +52.475
7.  Raikkonen      Lotus-Renault              +1:07.988
8.  Di Resta       Force India-Mercedes       +1:12.868
9.  Sutil          Force India-Mercedes       +1:14.734
10.  Ricciardo      Toro Rosso-Ferrari         +1:16.237
11.  Alonso         Ferrari                    +1:18.297
12.  Maldonado      Williams-Renault           +1:18.951
13.  Vergne         Toro Rosso-Ferrari         +1 lap
14.  Button         McLaren-Mercedes           +1 lap
15.  Gutierrez      Sauber-Ferrari             +1 lap
16.  Bottas         Williams-Renault           +1 lap
17.  Chilton        Marussia-Cosworth          +2 laps
18.  Bianchi        Marussia-Cosworth          +2 laps
19.  Hulkenberg     Sauber-Ferrari             +6 laps

Fastest lap: Raikkonen, 1:27.679

Not classified/retirements:

Webber         Red Bull-Renault             40 laps
Pic            Caterham-Renault             36 laps
van der Garde  Caterham-Renault             2 laps

World Championship standings, round 16:

1.  Vettel        322
2.  Alonso        207
3.  Raikkonen     183
4.  Hamilton      159
5.  Webber        148
6.  Rosberg       144
7.  Massa         102
8.  Grosjean      102
9.  Button         60
10.  Hulkenberg     49
11.  Di Resta       40
12.  Perez          33
13.  Sutil          28
14.  Ricciardo      19
15.  Vergne         13
16.  Gutierrez       6
17.  Maldonado       1

1.  Red Bull-Renault          470
2.  Ferrari                   309
3.  Mercedes                  303
4.  Lotus-Renault             285
5.  McLaren-Mercedes           93
6.  Force India-Mercedes       68
7.  Sauber-Ferrari             55
8.  Toro Rosso-Ferrari         32
9.  Williams-Renault            1

Next race: Abu Dhabi, Yas Marina. November 1-3.

Vettel takes commanding pole in India

Sebastian Vettel achieved his 43rd pole position in Formula 1 with a commanding qualifying performance at the Buddh International Circuit.

The Red Bull Racing driver, who is on the verge in winning his fourth consecutive world championship at this weekend’s Indian Grand Prix, was 1.7 seconds faster than his rivals thanks to his first flying lap – a time of one minute, 24.119 seconds – which ultimately became pole.

That statistic was skewed by the fact that all those out on that stage were using medium compound whereas Vettel was on softs.

But even the soft tyre option for Mercedes meant Nico Rosberg and Lewis Hamilton were seven tenths off the championship leader as they took second and third.

The shock of qualifying was Romain Grosjean’s Q1 exit. After fighting for the Suzuka victory in the previous race, the Lotus driver will need to get through the field at Buddh having chosen to use medium tyres in Q1.

Vettel was the only other driver who went for that strategy, but while he had no problem getting through in P11, Grosjean could only manage P17.

Mark Webber used the medium sets successfully in Q3 to take P4. He was only 0.928 seconds slower than his Red Bull team-mate, but crucially 0.8 seconds and four positions ahead of next-best medium user Fernando Alonso.

The Spaniard’s Ferrari team-mate Felipe Massa qualified in fifth, followed by Kimi Raikkonen and Nico Hulkenberg for Lotus and Sauber respectively.

McLaren used mediums for both its drivers as Sergio Perez and Jenson Button completed the top ten.

There were no surprises in Q2, with the Toro Rossos and Force India lining up on rows six and seven, ahead of Valtteri Bottas’s Williams and the Sauber of Esteban Gutierrez.

Pastor Maldonado joined Grosjean among the Q1 departures, and was only 0.128 seconds clear of Jules Bianchi’s Marussia and 0.265 seconds ahead of Giedo van der Garde’s Caterham.

So a dominant qualifying performance by the defending world champion. His third successive pole at the indian Grand Prix and he is looking very strong in the race judging by the speed in the RB9. Vettel just needs to finish fifth or higher to become world champion.

Qualifying positions for the Indian Grand Prix:

1. Sebastian Vettel      Red Bull-Renault     1m24.119s
2. Nico Rosberg          Mercedes             1m24.871s
3. Lewis Hamilton        Mercedes             1m24.941s
4. Mark Webber           Red Bull-Renault     1m25.047s
5. Felipe Massa          Ferrari              1m25.201s
6. Kimi Raikkonen        Lotus-Renault        1m25.248s
7. Nico Hulkenberg       Sauber-Ferrari       1m25.334s
8. Fernando Alonso       Ferrari              1m25.826s
9. Sergio Perez          McLaren-Mercedes     1m26.153s
10. Jenson Button         McLaren-Mercedes     1m26.487s
11. Daniel Ricciardo      Toro Rosso-Ferrari   1m25.519s
12. Paul di Resta         Force India-Mercedes 1m25.711s
13. Adrian Sutil          Force India-Mercedes 1m25.740s
14. Jean-Eric Vergne      Toro Rosso-Ferrari   1m25.798s
15. Valtteri Bottas       Williams-Renault     1m26.134s
16. Esteban Gutierrez     Sauber-Ferrari       1m26.336s
17. Romain Grosjean       Lotus-Renault        1m26.577s
18. Pastor Maldonado      Williams-Renault     1m26.842s
19. Jules Bianchi         Marussia-Cosworth    1m26.970s
20. Giedo van der Garde   Caterham-Renault     1m27.105s
21. Charles Pic           Caterham-Renault     1m27.487s
22. Max Chilton           Marussia-Cosworth    1m28.138s

107 per cent time: 1m31.564s

Vettel closing in on title after Japan win

Sebastian Vettel is on the verge of taking this season’s world championship following his fifth consecutive victory, as different race strategies produced a thrilling contest to a three-way battle for Japanese Grand Prix honours at Suzuka.

Polesitter Mark Webber passed Romain Grosjean in the final stages of the race to secure a Red Bull Racing one-two, but was seven seconds adrift of denying Vettel and securing what would have been a first victory of his farewell Formula 1 campaign.

As for Fernando Alonso, he recovered well from eighth to keep the championship alive. Vettel will have to wait until India to be crowned a four-time champion.

It was Grosjean’s Lotus that captured the lead at the start, jumping from fourth on the grid as both Red Bulls got away poorly.

The Mercedes of Lewis Hamilton also got the jump on the Red Bulls, but as he squeezed in between the RB9s he and Vettel made light contact, which punctured Hamilton’s rear right and causing floor damage which would ultimately lead to his retirement after just nine laps.

In the background, Giedo van der Garde and Jules Bianchi collided at Turn 1. Both retiring in the gravel trap.

For the first half of the Japanese Grand Prix Grosjean was able to maintain his advantage over Webber and Vettel, with the trio easing away from a chasing pack led by Nico Rosberg and the Scuderia of Felipe Massa and Fernando Alonso.

The group lost massive time through the first round of pit-stops when Daniel Ricciardo, who started on the hard compound and ran a deep first stint, managed to jump into fourth and hold a string of quicker cars at bay for several laps.

It was Sauber’s Nico Hulkenberg – who jumped the Ferraris through the first round of stops – who eventually managed to break Ricciardo’s resistance, but by then the top trio were 27 seconds down the road and out of touch.

That allowed Vettel, Grosjean and Webber to adopt different strategies, with the latter opting for a three-stop route in contrast to the two-stops of Vettel and Grosjean.

Webber therefore held track position heading into the final ten laps, while Vettel was able to go far deeper than Grosjean in his middle stint, and therefore had much fresher set of tyres on which to close a two-second gap to the Lotus driver.

The crucial pass came on lap 41 when Vettel attacked at Casio chicane and then dived down Grosjean’s inside at Turn 1 for second thanks to DRS.

With Webber pitting one lap later, Vettel duly hit the front and was able to cruise home to extend his winning form.

That he did so owed much to Grosjean however, whose spirited defence kept Webber – now on the option tyre for a final ten lap charge – at bay until the final laps, when Webber picked him off at Turn 1 to grab second.

Behind, Alonso executed a great pass around the outside of Hulkenberg heading into Turn 1 to clinch fourth and keep the title race technically open.

Kimi Raikkonen also picked off Hulkenberg’s Sauber to seal fifth position ahead of the German.

Esteban Gutierrez held on to deny Rosberg in a fight for seventh, while Jenson Button and Felipe Massa rounded out the top ten at Suzuka.

Massa also had to fight back from a drive-through for speeding in the pitlane, although his cause was also aided when Sergio Perez and Rosberg collided while fighting for tenth, sending the former to the pits with damage.

Paul di Resta beat Jean-Eric Vergne to P11, while a third drive-through – this time for Ricciardo after he went off-track passing di Resta at 130R – meant the Australian was restricted to P13 ahead of Adrian Sutil, Perez and the Williams of Pastor Maldonado and Valtteri Bottas.

Vettel’s fourth win in Japan brings him to 297 points in the standings to Alonso’s 207, which means he can clinch the title at the next round in India by finishing fifth or higher, regardless of what the Spaniard does. Raikkonen pulled further away from Hamilton in third place with 177 to 161, while Webber is moving back into contention with them on 148.

The result gave Red Bull another 43 points, bringing their total to 445. Ferrari’s run pulled them further ahead of Mercedes, the gap going out to 10 points with 297 to 287, while Lotus are back in the fight for second place with 264. Much further back McLaren have 83 to Force India’s 62.

Japanese Grand Prix race results after 53 laps

1.  Sebatian Vettel    Red Bull-Renault        1h37.410s
2.  Mark Webber        Red Bull-Renault            +7.129s
3.  Romain Grosjean    Lotus-Renault               +9.910s
4.  Fernando Alonso    Ferrari                    +45.605s
5.  Kimi Raikkonen     Lotus-Renault              +47.325s
6.  Nico Hulkenberg    Sauber-Ferrari             +51.615s
7.  Esteban Gutierrez  Sauber-Ferrari           +1m11.630s
8.  Nico Rosberg       Mercedes                 +1m12.023s
9.  Jenson Button      McLaren-Mercedes         +1m20.821s
10.  Felipe Massa       Ferrari                  +1m29.263s
11.  Paul di Resta      Force India-Mercedes     +1m38.572s
12.  Jean-Eric Vergne   Toro Rosso-Ferrari         +1 lap
13.  Daniel Ricciardo   Toro Rosso-Ferrari         +1 lap
14.  Adrian Sutil       Force India-Mercedes       +1 lap
15.  Sergio Perez       McLaren-Mercedes           +1 lap
16.  Pastor Maldonado   Williams-Renault           +1 lap
17.  Valtteri Bottas    Williams-Renault           +1 lap
18.  Charlies Pic       Caterham-Renault           +1 lap
19.  Max Chilton        Marussia-Cosworth          +1 lap

Fastest lap: Mark Webber, 1m34.587s

Not classified/retirements:

Lewis Hamilton       Mercedes                 9 laps
Giedo van der Garde  Caterham-Renault         0 laps
Jules Bianchi        Marussia-Cosworth        0 laps

World Championship standings, round 15:

1.  Vettel        297
2.  Alonso        207
3.  Raikkonen     177
4.  Hamilton      151
5.  Webber        148
6.  Rosberg       126
7.  Massa          90
8.  Grosjean       87
9.  Button         60
10.  Hulkenberg     49
11.  Di Resta       36
12.  Sutil          26
13.  Perez          23
14.  Ricciardo      18
15.  Vergne         13
16.  Gutierrez       6
17.  Maldonado       1

1.  Red Bull-Renault          445
2.  Ferrari                   297
3.  Mercedes                  277
4.  Lotus-Renault             264
5.  McLaren-Mercedes           83
6.  Force India-Mercedes       62
7.  Sauber-Ferrari             55
8.  Toro Rosso-Ferrari         31
9.  Williams-Renault            1

Next race: Indian Grand Prix, Buddh International Circuit. October 25-27.

Red Bull Racing front row in Japan as Webber outqualfies Vettel

Webber Japan 2013 qualifying

Mark Webber ended his Red Bull Racing’s team-mate Sebastian Vettel’s qualifying supremacy by beating the champion-elect to pole position at Suzuka.

Vettel was handicap with a loss of KERS on his first Q3 run and was four tenths of a second adrift from his Australian’s provisional pole.

His KERS was restarted but his second run was not enough good enough to beat Webber, who then improved his pole position time to one minute, 30.915 seconds.

This result meant not only was this is his first pole of the season, he also out-qualified Vettel.

Lewis Hamilton will start the Japanese Grand Prix in third, winning the tight qualifying battle from Romain Grosjean and Felipe Massa.

As for his Mercedes team-mate Nico Rosberg, he was 0.144 seconds slower and will line up sixth on the grid.

Ferrari’s Fernando Alonso was only eighth quickest, three tenths of a second off Massa and pushed back a further position by a flying Nico Hulkenberg in the Sauber.

Alonso will face an uphill battle if his championship rival wins the Japanese Grand Prix on Sunday so getting a good start will be key to his race.

Yet again, Kimi Raikkonen struggled for qualifying speed in the Lotus, lapping 0.319s slower than Grosjean as he ended up five positions adrift.

While McLaren’s Jenson Button rounded off the top ten at Suzuka.

The Q2 session was extraordinarily close, with barely half a second covering P2 to P14.

Sergio Perez ended up on the wrong end of the cut-off in eleventh and yet ahead of Paul di Resta.

The Force India driver had a much better qualifying session than his team-mate Adrian Sutil, who picked up a gearbox-change penalty following his FP3 crash and then struggled for speed. P17 was the end result.

The main action in Q1 was a bizarre fire on both the rear brakes of Jean-Eric Vergne’s Toro Rosso. The Frenchman had to park on the exit of the hairpin and the session was briefly red-flagged so that the track marshals could deal with the fire safely.

That left Vergne in P18, while his team-mate Daniel Ricciardo could only managed two places higher as he trailed the Q2 pack.

Those dramas helped Williams to an encouraging P13 and P15, Valtteri Bottas and Pastor Maldonado respectively.

They were split by Esteban Gutierrez, whose Sauber caught fire in the pit garage halfway through Q1. There was no damage and he was able to continue qualifying.

Marussia’s Max Chilton produced the best qualifying performance of his Formula 1 career so far to beat the Caterhams and his team-mate Jules Bianchi to P19.

Both Charles Pic and Bianchi will serve a ten-place grid penalties following incidents in last weekend’s Korean Grand Prix. The pair will share the back row.

So a fantastic lap by Mark Webber. His twelfth in Formula 1 and crucially ahead of his Red Bull Racing team-mate. Can Sebastian Vettel win the title on race day? He needs to overtake the pole sitter and hope that Fernando Alonso finishes outside the top eight. It’s going to be a fascinating Japanese Grand Prix.

Qualifying positions at Suzuka:

1. Mark Webber           Red Bull-Renault     1m30.915s
2. Sebastian Vettel      Red Bull-Renault     1m31.089s
3. Lewis Hamilton        Mercedes             1m31.253s
4. Romain Grosjean       Lotus-Renault        1m31.365s
5. Felipe Massa          Ferrari              1m31.378s
6. Nico Rosberg          Mercedes             1m31.397s
7. Nico Hulkenberg       Sauber-Ferrari       1m31.644s
8. Fernando Alonso       Ferrari              1m31.665s
9. Kimi Raikkonen        Lotus-Renault        1m31.684s
10. Jenson Button         McLaren-Mercedes     1m31.827s
11. Sergio Perez          McLaren-Mercedes     1m31.989s
12. Paul di Resta         Force India-Mercedes 1m31.992s
13. Valtteri Bottas       Williams-Renault     1m32.013s
14. Esteban Gutierrez     Sauber-Ferrari       1m32.063s
15. Pastor Maldonado      Williams-Renault     1m32.093s
16. Daniel Ricciardo      Toro Rosso-Ferrari   1m32.485s
17. Jean-Eric Vergne      Toro Rosso-Ferrari   1m33.357s
18. Max Chilton           Marussia-Cosworth    1m34.320s
19. Giedo van der Garde   Caterham-Renault     1m34.879s
20. Charles Pic           Caterham-Renault     1m34.556s*
21. Jules Bianchi         Marussia-Cosworth    1m34.958s*
22. Adrian Sutil          Force India-Mercedes 1m32.890s**

107 per cent time: 1m38.251s

*Ten-place penalty for incurring three reprimands during the season
**Five-place penalty for gearbox change

Vettel nears title following Korean victory

Vettel Korean GP 2013 winner

Sebastian Vettel is heading towards his fourth world championship after taking his 34th career victory in a race featuring some spectacular racing and bizarre incidents.

The Red Bull Racing driver was joined on the podium by Lotus duo Kimi Raikkonen – charging forward from tenth on the grid – and Romain Grosjean.

As Vettel stormed away into the lead at the start, Grosjean passed Lewis Hamilton for second into Turn 3.

In their wake, a late-braking move from Felipe Massa ended with the Ferrari spinning across the corner apex and scattering the pack behind. Everyone avoided Massa, but Jenson Button and Adrian Sutil picked up wing damage in the chaos.

The first half of the race featured Vettel pulling away from a closely-matched Grosjean and Hamilton, with Nico Rosberg behind and then Nico Hulkenberg fending off Fernando Alonso and a pack of cars.

Raikkonen jumped ahead of this pack after making his second pitstop earlier than his rivals.

Further up, Hamilton began to suffer extreme tyre degradation in his second stint and tumbled away from Grosjean towards Rosberg – only for the German’s front wing to partially fail in a shower of sparks as he overtook his struggling team-mate.

With both Mercedes delayed, Raikkonen gained two more positions, just before the first safety car when Sergio Perez’s right-front tyre dramatically blew on the long straight.

Mark Webber, who had made good progress from P13, was immediately behind and picked up a puncture from the resultant debris.

With the McLaren’s tyre carcass in the middle of the straight, a safety car was required.

Vettel stayed clear of the Lotus pair at the restart, with Raikkonen passing Grosjean with a spectacular Turn 1 move a lap later.

Another safety car was imminent, though. Sutil had spun into Turn 3 on the restart lap and hit Webber, causing the Red Bull to catch fire in the run-off area.

A fire vehicle eventually appeared on track to deal with the blazing car, forcing a frantic safety car deployment as the leaders caught sight of the fire truck.

After that mess was resolved, the race ran green to the chequered flag, with Vettel edging away from Raikkonen and Grosjean to win.

Behind them, an impressive performance from Hulkenberg earned him and Sauber fourth position. He had pounced on Hamilton at a restart to take the spot, and then clung on under huge pressure from the Mercedes and Alonso’s Ferrari, who were having a thrilling wheel-to-wheel scrap of their own.

Rosberg joined this battle by the end, followed by Button, Massa and Perez, who just denied the Mexican’s countryman Esteban Gutierrez by a single point.

Williams ran in the top ten for a while after a brilliant first lap from Pastor Maldonado, but the Venezuelan ultimately fell to P13 behind team-mate Valtteri Bottas.

Paul di Resta crashed his Force India and both Toro Rossos also retired, Daniel Ricciardo having got as high as seventh in the first stint.

So an eventful Korean Grand Prix featuring sparks, tyre blow-out and an appearance from a Jeep fire truck. And yet, the end result is that Sebastian Vettel has increased his lead in the championship with his eighth victory in the sport.

Which means, the Red Bull driver will become world champion next weekend at Suzuka, one of his favourite circuits. Can Fernando Alonso stop him? We shall find out in seven days time at the Japanese Grand Prix.

Korean Grand Prix, race results after 55 laps:

1.  Vettel         Red Bull-Renault           1h43:13.701
2.  Raikkonen      Lotus-Renault              +4.224
3.  Grosjean       Lotus-Renault              +4.927
4.  Hulkenberg     Sauber-Ferrari             +24.114
5.  Hamilton       Mercedes                   +25.255
6.  Alonso         Ferrari                    +26.189
7.  Rosberg        Mercedes                   +26.698
8.  Button         McLaren-Mercedes           +32.262
9.  Massa          Ferrari                    +34.390
10.  Perez          McLaren-Mercedes           +35.155
11.  Gutierrez      Sauber-Ferrari             +35.990
12.  Bottas         Williams-Renault           +47.049
13.  Maldonado      Williams-Renault           +50.013
14.  Pic            Caterham-Renault           +1:03.578
15.  van der Garde  Caterham-Renault           +1:04.501
16.  Bianchi        Marussia-Cosworth          +1:07.970
17.  Chilton        Marussia-Cosworth          +1:12.898
18.  Vergne         Toro Rosso-Ferrari         +2 laps
19.  Ricciardo      Toro Rosso-Ferrari         +3 laps
20.  Sutil          Force India-Mercedes       +5 laps

Fastest lap: Vettel, 1:41.380

Not classified/retirements:

Webber         Red Bull-Renault             41 laps
Di Resta       Force India-Mercedes         29 laps

World Championship standings, round 15:

1.  Vettel        272
2.  Alonso        195
3.  Raikkonen     167
4.  Hamilton      161
5.  Webber        130
6.  Rosberg       122
7.  Massa          89
8.  Grosjean       72
9.  Button         58
10.  Hulkenberg     31
11.  Di Resta       36
12.  Sutil          26
13.  Perez          23
14.  Ricciardo      18
15.  Vergne         13
16.  Maldonado       1

1.  Red Bull-Renault          402
2.  Ferrari                   284
3.  Mercedes                  283
4.  Lotus-Renault             239
5.  McLaren-Mercedes           81
6.  Force India-Mercedes       62
7.  Sauber-Ferrari             31
8.  Toro Rosso-Ferrari         31
9.  Williams-Renault            1

Next race: Japanese Grand Prix, Suzuka. October 11-13.

Vettel beats Hamilton to pole in Korea

Vettel Korea 2013 qualifying

Sebastian Vettel achieved his third successive Formula 1 pole position as he beats Lewis Hamilton in Yeongam.

Heading into qualifying, Mercedes seemed to have the pace to challenge Red Bull and yet the championship leader’s initial Q3 lap of one minute, 37.202 seconds put him 0.308 seconds clear of Hamilton.

Webber recorded the third quickest time but will drop down to P13 following his 10-place grid penalty for accumulating three driving reprimands.

Although Hamilton was able to get ahead of the Australian on his final pole shot, he was still 0.218 seconds adrift of Vettel, who was able to back off his own last lap, confident pole was secure.

With the grid penalty applied to Webber, Romain Grosjean will move up to third. The Lotus driver did a great job in qualifying to outpace the Mercedes of Nico Rosberg and the Ferrari pair of Fernando Alonso and Felipe Massa.

As for his team-mate Kimi Raikkonen, the Finn could only manage tenth, 1.3 seconds slower.

For the first time this year, Sauber managed to get both cars into Q3, with Nico Hulkenberg and Esteban Gutierrez eighth and ninth fastest.

Sauber’s qualifying breakthrough came at McLaren’s expense however.

Despite encouraging performance in practice, both Sergio Perez and Jenson Button will start the Korean Grand Prix in P11 and P12, missing out in Q3 by 0.035 seconds and 0.038 seconds respectively.

The Toro Rossos and Force Indias were also eliminated in Q2, while neither Williams made it beyond Q1, although Valtteri Bottas could at least be pleased to outqualify his team-mate Pastor Maldonado by 0.5 seconds.

Charles Pic squeezed ahead of Caterham team-mate Giedo van der Garde by 0.007 seconds to lead the battle at the back of the grid.

So a fantastic result for Sebastian Vettel. His 42nd career pole position in the sport and his sixth this season. Can he win the race on Sunday and inch closer towards sealing the championship? Or will Lewis Hamilton give the young German a run for his money? We shall find out on race day.

Qualifying times from Yeongam:

1. Sebastian Vettel      Red Bull-Renault     1m37.202s
2. Lewis Hamilton        Mercedes             1m37.420s
3. Romain Grosjean       Lotus-Renault        1m37.531s
4. Nico Rosberg          Mercedes             1m37.679s
5. Fernando Alonso       Ferrari              1m38.038s
6. Felipe Massa          Ferrari              1m38.223s
7. Nico Hulkenberg       Sauber-Ferrari       1m38.237s
8. Esteban Gutierrez     Sauber-Ferrari       1m38.405s
9. Kimi Raikkonen        Lotus-Renault        1m38.822s
10. Sergio Perez          McLaren-Mercedes     1m38.362s
11. Jenson Button         McLaren-Mercedes     1m38.365s
12. Daniel Ricciardo      Toro Rosso-Ferrari   1m38.417s
13. Mark Webber           Red Bull-Renault     1m37.464s*
14. Adrian Sutil          Force India-Mercedes 1m38.431s
15. Paul di Resta         Force India-Mercedes 1m38.718s
16. Jean-Eric Vergne      Toro Rosso-Ferrari   1m38.781s
17. Valtteri Bottas       Williams-Renault     1m39.470s
18. Pastor Maldonado      Williams-Renault     1m39.987s
19. Charles Pic           Caterham-Renault     1m40.864s
20. Giedo van der Garde   Caterham-Renault     1m40.871s
21. Jules Bianchi         Marussia-Cosworth    1m41.169s
22. Max Chilton           Marussia-Cosworth    1m41.322s

107% time: 1m45.224s

*Ten-place grid penalty for accumulating three driving reprimands.